Coach Mark Stoops has set an exceptionally high bar for player development (Dr. Michael Huang Photo).
LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops urged each of his four players who were taken in the NFL Draft to “go be great” at the next level.
“NFL Sundays are going to be exciting to watch for years to come,” Stoops said after Wan’Dale Robinson, Josh Paschal, Luke Fortner and Darian Kinnard were chosen in the draft that concluded on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Robinson, a versatile wide receiver, was the first former Wildcat taken in the draft and was the 43rd overall selection by the New York Giants. Prior to the draft, Robinson was confident he would be taken in the early rounds.
“I always felt like I was talented enough to be picked this early,” Robinson said. “I just felt like somebody just had to believe in me and not believe in the hype thing and just believe in the football player.”
The Giants also are confident in Robinson’s ability to make an immediate impact.
“(Robinson is a) good football player we’ve had our eye on, generator with the ball in his hands, very good run after the catch, very good route runner, can separate,” Giants General Manager Joe Schoen said. “And for what we are going to do offensively, we thought he would be a very good fit for us.”
New York head coach Brian Daboll added Robinson is “versatile, got quickness, explosiveness, he’s tough even for a smaller guy.
“(He’s) been a very productive player really going back to high school when he played there in Kentucky — a guy we’re anxious to get our hands on and work with and implement into our scheme,” “he said.
Kentucky defensive standout Josh Paschal followed Robinson as the 46th player chosen and will begin his professional career in Detroit with the Lions.
“I’m a guy that can change locker rooms,” he said. “That’s my goal is to come in, learn from the guys, the veterans there, but also step into a leadership role.”
A talented player, the Lions were equally impressed by Paschal’s demeanor off the field.
“You’re wowed when you turn on the tape, but then you find out about the human being and you’re just impressed even more,” Lions general manager Brad Holmes said.
Luke Fortner will join former teammate Josh Allen with the Jacksonville Jaguars after he was selected in the third round with the 65th overall pick. Darion Kinnard was the No. 145th pick of the draft and was chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Following the draft, several former Kentucky players signed free-agent contracts: Yusuf Corker (Giants), Marquan McCall (Carolina Panthers), Justin Rigg (Cincinnati Bengals) and Dare Rosenthal (Atlanta Falcons).
Former Louisville defensive back Russ Yeast was selected as the 253rd overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams. Yeast finished his career at Kansas State.