The Kentucky Wildcats had three players drafted into the NFL in 2023. Quarterback Will Levis, cornerback Carrington Valentine, and running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. have all realized their dreams of going pro.
In this article, we take a look at how they are doing after 11 weeks of action.
Levis, who was the 33rd overall pick in this year’s draft, having surprisingly slipped into the second round after quite the embarrassing night, has started in four games for the Tennessee Titans after replacing Ryan Tannehill as the team’s starting QB.
The 24-year-old’s last outing came in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. He made 13 of his 17 attempts for 158 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The Titans could only manage 82 yards of total offense in the first half and didn’t get on the scoreboard until the final drive of the third quarter.
Levis’ impressive debut, marked by a significant performance against the Atlanta Falcons, not only caught the attention of fans but also likely influenced betting markets. Such standout performances often drive the sports betting promotions available in Kentucky, where fans keenly follow their local heroes’ progress in the NFL.
“Not a bad debut,” Vrabel said. “We hit some shots down the field. The opportunities to move the ball down the field were there, and we hit ’em.”
Levis was on target for 19 of his 29 attempts, registering 238 yards, a whopping four touchdown passes for a passer rating of 130.5. He joined Marcus Mariota and Fran Tarkenton as the only players in NFL history to throw for four or more scores on a debut. He also became the first QB in league history to make TD passes of 30-plus yards in their first game.
“This is a dream come true for sure,” he said. “I dreamed of this moment as a kid, and to get a win is incredible. But we have a few more minutes to celebrate it today, then we’re on to Pittsburgh, as Vrabel would say.”
The performance prompted Vrabel to make Levis his starter as he jumped Malik Willis to fill in the role of the injured Tannehill. The head coach noted that the position would be reevaluated once Tannehill returned.
Tannehill, who sustained a high ankle sprain in Week 6, has since returned and is now backup to Levis. He was listed as a full participant in training last week after two limited practices the week before, as well as a missed day.
“I’m still working my way trying to get back to 100 percent,” Tannehill said. “I’m able to move around and get work in at practice. I feel a lot better than the last few weeks.”
Levis looks to have secured the starting role for now, let’s see if he can set himself apart now that Tannehill is healthy again.
Valentine was drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers and is giving them a good return on investment.
The Packers needed to shore their defense up following last month’s trade deadline after trading Rasul Douglas plus a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills. That led to a start for Carrington, who grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
The 22-year-old has played in 10 games this season, with six of them being starts. He was a standout against the Los Angeles Rams earlier this month, helping his team hold them to a single field goal in a 20-3 win.
Carrington was all over the field, springing at everything, breaking passes up, and making timely tackles.
“37 played like a top-tier corner in the league, and it’s exciting to see,” teammate Jaire Alexander said. “And he’ll continue to do that, because that’s his standard now. He’s young — we’ve seen it in camp — he’s young, he’s hungry, he wants to make plays. He wants to be the best. And I can’t be more happy to play alongside somebody like that.”
Chris Rodriguez Jr.
Chris Rodriguez Jr. has made nine appearances for the Washington Commanders, though he’s yet to start. The rookie has registered a total of 104 yards on 20 rushes on 5.2 yards per attempt.
He was on the field for the team in their recent shocking loss to the New York Giants, running for 43 yards on six attempts. He also caught a pass for five yards but made a fumble to contribute to the six turnovers the Commanders gave up on the day.
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