By Jordan Brown
Its opening week in the NFL and this is an exciting time for sports. Seeing the NFL, NBA, and MLB all in full stride at the same time will be something that sports fans have yet to experience. In this pandemic, Sunday football will be even more of a tradition than it already is. Some former Wildcats will be in the mix, as 12 Kentucky players are set to make an impact on NFL rosters.
Representing the Blue and White mostly are Josh Allen, Corey Peters, and Za’Darius Smith who have been named team captains for their organizations. Also playing this season will be Lynn Bowden Jr., Randall Cobb, Alvin “Bud” Dupree, Mike Edwards, Lonnie Johnson Jr., Benny Snell Jr., Logan Stenberg, Danny Trevathan, and Avery Williamson.
The guys out of this group that I see having the best seasons are Josh Allen, Za’ Darius Smith, Corey Peters, Randall Cobb, and Avery Williamson. Josh Allen of the Jacksonville Jaguars has taken his stellar play at Kentucky and transformed it into a tremendous NFL talent. The defensive end/ edge rusher set a franchise rookie record with 10.5 and 23 quarterback hits. He forced two fumbles and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team. Earning the captain name for the Jaguars, we can assume that he is going to put up even bigger numbers in year two.
Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Za’Darius Smith is putting together a great NFL career. He had the sixth most sacks in the league last season with 13.5 leading to him being named All-Pro at the end of the season. He has 32 career sacks and has been named a captain for the second straight season. Corey Peters has now been in the NFL for nine years—time flies. In 2019, he had 38 tackles and six of them were for a loss. Now with the Arizona Cardinals, he has been named a team captain for the third time in his career. Over his career, he has totaled 44 tackles for loss and 17 sacks.
Be on the look out for Randall Cobb in your fantasy leagues. Though he has struggled with injuries over his career, when healthy he can be considered one of the best number two or three receivers in the league. Now with the Houston Texans, he could be one of the main targets for Deshaun Watson as they try to fill the void of trading DeAndre Hopkins. In his nine seasons, Cobb has caught 525 passes for 6,352 yards and 44 scores. After missing the entirety of the 2019 season due to injury, I think veteran linebacker Avery Williamson is poised to have a redemption season. In 2018, he recorded 120 tackles, six for a loss and three sacks for the New York Jets.
But, of course, everyone wants to know what is going on with Lynn Bowden Jr. After being selected in the third round by the Las Vegas Raiders, he was traded to the Miami Dolphins this past weekend. He seemed like the perfect fit to go into a Jon Gruden run and gun offense as a key weapon, leaving many of us wondering why they would trade him just weeks before the season after being in Las Vegas since the draft. Wherever he plays, I think once Bowden Jr. gets on his feet and comfortable, he can make an impact in a variety of ways. Just like we saw at Kentucky.
Week one of the NFL should be exciting as an NFL or Kentucky fan if you like keeping up with our former players. I know one thing; the NFL is just getting me more and more eager to see the Wildcats take the field Sept. 26 at Auburn.