LB Williamson excited, nervous about NFL Draft

Avery Williamson won’t be wearing an expensive suit sitting at a fancy table in New York City, waiting for his name to be called.

No, the Kentucky linebacker will be watching all of the week’s NFL Draft hoopla like almost everyone else: on television.

Williamson is heading home to Tennessee, where he will try not to stare at his phone, waiting for the call that will decide his future.

“I’m definitely nervous,” Williamson said. “It’ll really be nerve-wracking to sit there and watch it.”

The player who led Kentucky in tackles each of the past two seasons has done everything he can: the NFL Combine, interviews and workouts with multiple teams (his agent asked him not to disclose which ones).

Most mock drafts have the 6-foot-1, 246-pounder, seventh nationally in tackles this season with 102, projected as going in the fifth or sixth round of the draft, which starts Thursday night.

The second and third rounds begin at 7 p.m. Friday, and rounds four through seven start at noon Saturday.

Williamson will spend the weekend surrounded by friends and family in Milan, Tenn. His mom has planned a get-together.

The waiting will be the hardest part, he said.

“It’s difficult, especially because you want to go to the best place,” Williamson said. “And sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow of things. Been praying and done everything else I could.”

The draft’s eighth-best inside linebacker prospect, according to CBS Sports, has been given some idea of where he might be drafted and by whom, but he said he tries not to get ahead of himself.

“It’s really a huge guessing game,” Williamson said. “I’ve got an idea of where I might land, but I can’t put my finger on it too much because it’s so up and down. Things change. I have some idea of where I might end up and what round, but it’s hard to predict.”

Four different mock drafts have Williamson going between the fifth and seventh rounds.

“Williamson is agile and quick and shows good awareness in coverage,” the CBS Sports analysis said. “He remains on the field, typically in coverage (rather than blitzing) on passing downs and can handle short and intermediate route duties.”

He improved his stock with impressive combine performances, including finishing 11th or better in four of the six workouts for his position, including bench press (eighth) with 25 of them, broad jump (ninth), three-cone drill (11th) and third in the 20-yard shuttle.

At UK’s NFL Pro Day in March, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said he is excited to see Williamson at the next level.

“He’s done right for every minute he’s been here,” he said. “He’s always worked hard, had a good attitude. The minute we stepped on campus, he’s represented us the right way, worked extremely hard. He’s a great leader, does well on the field and off the field, and it’s no mystery he’s our top prospect and we wish him well.”

At that Pro Day, UK had 13 former players (including a handful who graduated in 2013) work out for scouts from various NFL teams and one arena league team.

Kentucky has had at least one player taken in the NFL Draft every year since 2008, including most recently Larry Warford (Lions, third round) in 2013, Winston Guy (Seahawks, sixth) and Danny Trevathan (Broncos, sixth) in 2012 and Randall Cobb (Packers, second) in 2011.

About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at
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