LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Four University of Kentucky football players were selected in the National Football League Draft on Sunday.
TE Jacob Tamme, fourth round by the Indianapolis Colts (127th overall)
WR Keenan Burton, fourth round by the St. Louis Rams (128th overall)
QB Andre' Woodson, sixth round by the New York Giants (198th overall)
WR Steve Johnson, seventh round by the Buffalo Bills (224th overall)
Four players chosen marks the most Wildcats selected since 1989, when David Johnson, Ivy Joe Hunter, Chris Chenault, and Charlie Darrington were picked. The draft was longer then, as Chenault and Darrington were taken in the 8th and 9th rounds, respectively. The last time Kentucky had four draft picks in the first seven rounds was 1979, when a total of eight Cats were taken, five of whom went in the first seven rounds.
The Wildcat action began in the fourth round when Tamme was taken by Indianapolis Colts. Tamme was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference honoree his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, he caught 56 passes for 619 yards and six touchdowns. Tamme was the first UK tight end to be drafted since James Whalen was a fifth-round pick of Tampa Bay in 2000. The last Wildcat picked by Indianapolis was defensive lineman Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns in 2005.
On the next selection after Tamme, the St. Louis Rams tabbed Burton. Despite multiple injuries last season, Burton still led the team in pass receptions with 66 catches for 741 yards and nine touchdowns. His best season came as a junior when he snagged 77 balls for 1,036 yards and 12 TDs, earning first-team All-SEC accolades. Burton is the first UK wide receiver to be selected since Derek Abney was a seventh-round choice by Baltimore in 2004. The Rams haven't chosen a UK player since 1975 -- when they were located in Los Angeles -- and took offensive lineman Rick Nuzum in the fifth round.
The next Wildcat to have his name called was quarterback Andre' Woodson by the New York Giants in the sixth round. Woodson had two tremendous seasons as a junior and senior, throwing for 7,224 yards and 71 touchdowns and only 18 interceptions over those two campaigns. He led Kentucky to consecutive championships of the 2006 and 2007 Music City Bowls, with Woodson being named Most Valuable Player in both games. As a senior, he set an NCAA record with 325 consecutive passes without an interception while setting an SEC record with 40 touchdown passes.
The last Kentucky player chosen by the Giants was running back George Adams, the team's first choice in 1985. The last Kentucky QB taken was Tim Couch, who was the first pick of the 1999 draft by the Cleveland Browns. Ironically, in New York, Woodson will rejoin former Wildcat Jared Lorenzen, who is a backup QB for the current NFL champions. Woodson and Lorenzen were members of the 2003 Kentucky team, when Lorenzen was a senior and Woodson a freshman.
The Kentucky draft day was wrapped up in the seventh round with the selection of Johnson by the Buffalo Bills. Johnson had a breakout campaign as a senior, catching 60 passes for 1,041 yards, a 17.4-yard average per reception, with 13 touchdowns. He had two of the biggest touchdown catches in school history, game-winning TDs against then-No. 9 Louisville and No. 1 (and eventual national champion) LSU. The last Kentucky player picked by Buffalo was running back Rod Stewart, a supplemental sixth-round selection in 1979. As noted above, the previous UK wide receiver in the draft was Derek Abney by Baltimore in 2004.
Additional Kentucky players are likely to get their chance in the NFL by signing free-agent contracts in the coming days.