Twelve former Kentucky Wildcats will be on active NFL rosters when the league kicks off the 2020 season Thursday, Sunday and Monday.
Of the 12 former Cats, six will be entering just their first or second pro seasons while others will be entering their second decade in the NFL.
Here’s a preview and look at how each former Wildcat might fare this season.
Avery Williamson, New York Jets
Avery Williamson enters his second season with the New York Jets organization, but 2020 will be the first he actually gets to play for Gang Green.
Williamson missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL and will look to return to the form that earned him a three-year, $22.50 million contract from the Jets.
In 2018, the former Second-team All-SEC linebacker recorded 92 total tackles, three sacks, and two fumbles for the Tennessee Titans as their starting middle linebacker.
He is slated to start for New York in 2020 and is among the teams’ captains in what he hopes will be a bounce-back season.
Projections: 85 total tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh, Steelers
Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher and fan-favorite Benny Snell Jr. will enter his second season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020.
Snell was drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and played in 13 games as a rookie last season. He ran for 426 yards and two touchdowns while making three catches for 23 yards.
He enters 2020 second on the Steelers depth chart at running back behind James Conner; thus, he will likely see an increased workload and could even find himself in the starting lineup if an injury were to occur.
Expect an improved statistical year for Snell as he continues to develop as a pro.
Projections: 615 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards, 4 total touchdowns
Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bud Dupree‘s NFL career got off to a rough start. Dupree was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft but in his first four pro seasons failed to live up to the expectations that made him a first rounder.
Entering a contract year in 2019, he turned a massive corner by putting together a career-year. The former Wildcat recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks, 68 total tackles and four forced fumbles as he emerged as a leader on a stellar Steeler defense.
The career-year earned him the organization’s franchise tag and in May, he signed a one-year tender worth $15.8 million to stay with Pittsburgh.
He will hit the open market after the season; thus, look for another big season as he looks to cash in on a long-term deal.
Projections: 10 sacks, 70 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles
Corey Peters, Arizona Cardinals
Corey Peters will be entering his 11th NFL season in 2020 and fifth with the Arizona Cardinals.
The defensive tackle is entering the final year of a three-year contract extension he signed with Arizona back in December of 2017, which has proved to be a wise investment.
Peters has started 31 of the Cardinals 32 games the past two seasons’ including all 16 in 2019. Last season he recorded 38 total tackles and 2.5 sacks as Arizona improved their win total by two-games from a 3-13 2018 campaign.
He enters 2020 as a captain for the third straight season and will look to continue to guide a young Arizona defense to improvement.
Projections: 35 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Danny Trevathan, Chicago Bears
Former super bowl champion and soon to be University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Famer Danny Trevathan will be entering his ninth NFL season in 2020 and fifth with the Chicago Bears.
Trevathan won a super bowl with the Denver Broncos during the 2015-16 season and landed a four-year, $28 million contract from Chicago in 2016. This past offseason, he inked a three-year extension to stay in the Windy City.
This comes after the veteran recorded 70 total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in a 2019 season that was cut to nine games due to injury.
If healthy, expect a monster statistical year for Trevathan, who was on a career-pace before going down last season.
Projections: 120 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars
Kentucky’s all-time leading sack leader Josh Allen enters his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the player the team is building their defense around.
As a rookie last season, Allen broke the Jaguars rookie sack record with 10.5 while also recording 44 total tackles and forcing two fumbles to earn pro bowl honors.
With Allen’s stellar rookie year, the Jaguars traded away veteran pass rusher Calais Campbell to Baltimore for a draft pick and to shed salary.
Allen will be a captain with the Jaguars as he enters a leadership role and as the defense’s featured player entering just his second year as a pro.
Logan Stenberg, Detroit Lions
Logan Stenberg will enter his rookie season with the Detroit Lions after four stellar seasons on the Kentucky offensive line.
Stenberg was drafted in the fourth round by Detroit and will look to help the Lions improve on an area of weakness as the offensive line struggled in their three-win 2019 season.
He enters the year as the backup left guard on the Lions depth chart behind Joe Dahl and will look to crack the starting lineup before seasons’ end.
Projections: Stenberg will make first NFL start during season
Lynn Bowden Jr., Miami Dolphins
Lynn Bowden‘s rookie season in the NFL is already off to a wacky start. Bowden was drafted in the third round of the 2020 Draft by the Las Vegas Raiders, but just eight days before the start of the season was traded to the Miami Dolphins in a shocking move.
The reason behind it may be because Las Vegas attempted to play Bowden at running back despite wide receiver being his natural season. With a log jam at receiver, Vegas moved him to Miami, where he is already listed as wide.
It may be slow out of the gate for Bowden as he gets acclimated in the Dolphins offense but don’t expect him to say the bench on the long with his can’t miss speed.
Projections: 20 receptions, 240 yards, 1 touchdown
Lonnie Johnson, Houston Texans
Lonnie Johnson will be entering his second pro season with the Houston Texans. Johnson was drafted in the second round of the 2019 Draft by Houston and played in 14 regular season games and both postseason games as a rookie.
Johnson recorded 41 total tackles and defended seven passes in the regular season and in the postseason, recovered a blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown against the eventual super bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
He enters his second-year with Houston listed second on the depth chart at the cornerback, one spot behind veteran Bradley Roby but still figures to play a big role both at corner and on special teams for the two-time defending AFC South champions.
Projections: 60 total tackles, 8 PD’s, 1 INT
Mike Edwards, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As a rookie last season, Edwards played in 15 games that saw him record 45 total tackles, defended six passes, recovered two fumbles and even record a sack from his safety position.
He enters the season listed behind rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. on the depth chart but still figures to play a vital role and earn starts at safety this season.
Projections: 53 total tackles, 8 PD’s, 1 INT
Randall Cobb, Houston Texans
UK Athletics Hall of Famer and former NFL pro bowler Randall Cobb will be entering his tenth NFL season in 2020 and first with the Houston Texans.
Cobb spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Green Bay Packers before joining the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal for the 2019 season. In Dallas, Cobb played in 15 games in which he caught 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns.
He inked a three-year, $27 million contract with Houston during the offseason as he will look to help fill the void left by all-pro DeAndre Hopkins, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals.
Projections: 50 receptions, 750 yards, 3 touchdowns
Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay Packers
Za’Darius Smith did not disappoint in the first year of his four-year, $66 million contract with the Green Bay Packers last season.
Smith recorded 13.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and forced a fumble as he earned Pro Bowl honors and helped guide Green Bay to the NFC Championship game.
In his second year with the Packers, Smith will look to build off his career-year of 2019 and help Green Bay take the next step and reach the super bowl for the first time in 10 years.
Projections: 13 sacks, 16 TFL’s, 2 forced fumbles