UK football looks to leave its mark in the NFL


Senior defensive tackle Corey Peters sacs Alabama’s quarterback Greg McElroy in the first half of Alabama’s 38-20 win over Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Photo by Britney McIntosh

By Ethan Levine

With the hype surrounding the upcoming NBA draft, many UK fans may have overlooked last weekend’s NFL draft, a draft in which  three former Cats heard their name called by NFL franchises. Defensive lineman Corey Peters, defensive back Trevard Lindley and fullback John Conner each look to begin their professional career.

Corey Peters, Defensive Tackle, 6-foot-3/300 lbs, Third Round, Atlanta Falcons

Peters was chosen with the 83rd overall pick in the draft, the first UK player to go. At UK, Peters posted his best season in 2009, earning himself the Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week award twice and second team All-SEC honors.

Peters is likely to start his NFL career as a rotational lineman in the Falcons’ 4-3 defense, but shows promise with his above-average footwork, instincts and field awareness. He is also an adequate pass rusher with the ability to collapse the pocket up the middle. This power can benefit Atlanta’s pass rush from the outside, most notably from their all-pro defensive end John Abraham.

One area scouts say Peters can improve is in his technique. If he shows he can progress his technique consistently from play to play, Peters has the ability to be a promising defender in the league.

Trevard Lindley, Cornerback, 5-foot-11/183 lbs, Fourth Round, Philadelphia Eagles

Lindley was a standout cover corner at UK. Regarded as a potential All-American candidate entering his senior season, injuries kept him off the field for much of the year. As a result, he fell to the 105th overall pick in the NFL draft.

Lindley excels in both man and zone coverage. He is quick and athletic and reacts exceptionally well in zone coverage. He has the ability to jump patterns in man coverage, which is something quarterbacks fear. While he is not a liability against the run, he has struggled with stopping the rush on the edges. The key, at least early in his career, will be durability.

Lindley will likely start the season as Philadelphia’s nickel corner, but if he can show he is fully recovered from the injuries he suffered last year, he has the opportunity to become a starter for the Eagles in a conference which boasts offensive excellence.

John Conner, Fullback, 5-foot-11/246 lbs, Fifth Round, New York Jets

When the Jets traded their playmaking running back Leon Washington for a 5th round pick, 139th overall, many fans watched and wondered what the Jets would do with the pick. They used it on Conner, who was regarded by many scouts as the best fullback in this year’s draft.

Conner is an old-school fullback, who loves to play physically and block defenders for runners behind him. His one liability is catching passes out of the backfield, although he showed improvements in that area in his senior season.

He will join the NFL’s No.1 rushing offense, including returning playmaker Shonn Green, who made a statement in last year’s playoffs, and the newly arrived, record-holding running back LaDanian Tomlinson.

Conner will likely sit behind all-pro fullback Tony Richardson to begin his career.