CatsIllustrated.com takes a look at each position group on Kentucky's football team compared to the rest of the Southeastern Conference.
It's an inexact exercise but one that seeks to answer two questions as best as possible: Does Kentucky have SEC depth at each position? Does Kentucky have SEC talent?
For our purposes the following answers may be given:
— Excellent, meaning Kentucky's depth or talent at a given position is well above average even for an SEC program;
— Above average, meaning Kentucky would rank in the upper echelon of the SEC;
— SEC average, which would mean Kentucky is comparable with the average one would see across the rest of the league;
— Below average, meaning Kentucky would rank decidedly in the bottom half of the SEC;
— Poor, meaning Kentucky's depth or talent at a given position is well below SEC average.
15 Stephen Johnson, 6-2, 183, Sr-1L
7 Drew Barker, 6-3, 225, Jr-2L
Or 12 Gunnar Hoak, 6-4, 200, Fr-RS
DEPTH: Above average.Not many SEC coaches could probably say, with a straight face, that they feel like they can win games (excluding the almost-obligatory FCS matchup) with any one of three quarterbacks. But that's where Mark Stoops and Darin Hinshaw are. Hinshaw surely gets credit for a good amount of that, doing what he did with an unheralded Stephen Johnson last year. But that's also a testament to Drew Barker's talent and what Gunnar Hoak has shown in exhibition action thus far.
TALENT: Average to Below Average. That should not be taken to mean this group can't succeed. And remember, we're not talking about a national average, but an SEC average. When one considers the likelihood of much improved quarterback play in the SEC and the fact that virtually every publication/website ranking quarterbacks will put Kentucky's towards the bottom of this list, it's the closest thing to an objective answer that a subjective exercise can produce. Austin Allen (Arkansas), Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State), Jake Bentley (South Carolina), Shea Patterson (Ole Miss), Jacob Eason (Georgia) and some others will have more hype going into the season.
26 Benny Snell Jr., 5-11, 220, So-1L
22 Sihiem King, 5-9, 172, Jr-2L
OR 10 A.J. Rose, 6-1, 212, Fr-RS
DEPTH: Below Average. It's not at a crisis level but it's no secret that Kentucky could use an additional proven running back. Right now they have one player who has proven he can step up and log a big workload in the SEC. If Bryant Koback weren't dealing with injury issues then the group's depth would be a little better. For right now, Kentucky desperately needs Snell to stay healthy. He's one player they could ill-afford to lose.
TALENT: Average to Above Average. This depends on how heavily you factor Benny Snell at the top line of the depth chart. He is clearly one of the SEC's best backs after putting up huge numbers in split duty as a true freshman. King and Rose have talent but are unproven, so if you weight Snell (and first teamers across the league) more heavily you will rate this group 'above average.' If you are factoring in the first, second and third teamers more equally then the group's talent is more par for the course in the SEC.
Wide Receiver (x)
80 Tavin Richardson, 6-3, 216, So- 1L
6 Blake Bone, 6-5, 213, Sr-3L
Wide Receiver (Y)
88 Charles Walker, 5-11, 203, Sr- 3L
31 David Bouvier, 5-9, 171, Jr- Sq
Wide Receiver (F)
9 Garrett Johnson, 5-11, 175, Sr- 3L
18 Clevan Thomas Jr., 5-11, 205, Fr-HS
Wide Receiver (Z)
2 Dorian Baker, 6-3, 208, Sr-3L
19 Kayaune Ross, 6-6, 225, Jr-Sq
DEPTH: Average. There aren't any gaping holes. If you look at the "Y" position and balk when you see Charles Walker and David Bouvier, thinking they're over their heads, you're probably overlooking the fact that Walker can be a really nice player and Bouvier has long had a chemistry on the field with Stephen Johnson. There is a nice assortment of complementary parts and Kentucky can comfortably rotate a solid number of players. The depth will largely be determined by how many of the younger guys are able to break into the rotation.
TALENT: Average to Below Average. It would be tough to rank this group's talent in the top-half of the SEC. For the past several years the receivers have been very hyped going into the season. There is still talent there, no doubt, and if Dorian Baker breaks out, Garrett Johnson sustains success or Clevan Thomas, Lynn Bowden or someone steps up then they could certainly be better than they seem on paper. But right now the group's talent doesn't jump off the page for good or for bad compared to SEC peer groups. You won't see any Kentucky receivers on preseason All-SEC team lists.
15 C.J. Conrad, 6-5, 245, Jr- 2L
85 Greg Hart, 6-5, 245, Sr- 1L
DEPTH: Above Average. There are other SEC tight end groups that can go comfortably two or three deep at tight end, as Kentucky can (Justin Rigg doesn't appear on the depth chart but he's a solid No. 3 especially as a receiver). Greg Hart has extensive game experience from last season and is serviceable in every respect. The staff won't flinch when he's in the game. Justin Rigg could have been in line for the same kind of snap count last year until his injury. C.J. Conrad is a top of the line No. 1.
TALENT: Above Average. Conrad isn't guaranteed All-SEC honors but if Stephen Johnson gets on the same page as him in the passing game it shouldn't surprise anyone if it happens. Pro Football Focus' college operation recently graded Conrad out as the No. 3 returning tight end in all of college football. Hart and Rigg are both quality players.
74 Cole Mosier, 6-6, 335, Sr- 3L
67 Landon Young, 6-7, 305, So-1L
71 Logan Stenberg, 6-6, 318, So- 1L
79 Luke Fortner, 6-6, 305, Fr-RS
65 Jervontius Stallings, 6-3, 315, Jr- 1L
52 Drake Jackson, 6-2, 290, Fr-RS
68 Nick Haynes, 6-3, 316, Sr- 3L
77 Mason Wolfe, 6-6, 310, So-Sq
73 Kyle Meadows, 6-5, 300, Sr- 3L
Or 64 George Asafo-Adjei, 6-5, 315, Jr- 2L
DEPTH: Above Average to Excellent. If it's not the deepest line across the board in the SEC then it's darn close. The depth is unproven in a couple of spots as Drake Jackson, Luke Fortner and Mason Wolfe don't have extensive game experience, but they're players the coaching staff has, for the most part, spoken very highly of. What adds to the depth of this unit is the fact that some of the players (Fortner, Asafo-Adjei) are capable of playing multiple spots depending on need and/or situation. Kentucky is in the rare position of even being able, in a poor scenario, to sustain a loss at either tackle spot.
TALENT: Above Average. This group doesn't have the same star ranking average as many others in the SEC if you go exclusively by the high school accolades or numbers but through development and experience in the program they've maximized their ability and in some cases have proven to be better than most believed they would be. Nick Haynes and Jervontius Stallings could be among the better linemen in the SEC and could contend for All-SEC honors. Kyle Meadows has good athleticism for a right tackle and Cole Mosier could be one of the nation's bigger surprises at left tackle this year. Landon Young obviously has a world of potential and no one has ever doubted Asafo-Adjei's raw talent.