Life about to get busy for undrafted former Wildcats

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJuly 26, 2011 

For several former Kentucky football players, things might be about to move faster than their times in the 40-yard dash.

With the NFL lockout finally over, teams could start signing their draft picks and going after undrafted rookies as early as Tuesday. They also will be able to start talking to free agents that day.

So for undrafted rookies Derrick Locke, Chris Matthews and others, it could be a quick end to an agonizing summer of doubts, questions and frustrations.

Locke is on several lists of top-20 undrafted free agents circulating on the Internet. He's tabbed No. 3 on Gil Brandt's NFL.com blog, which says the speedy former UK running back has "quickness and speed needed for success at running back."

Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports listed Locke among the standout offensive players available for teams to start acquiring on Tuesday.

Farrar said Locke's "willingness to stand out in the blocking drills was a bonus. ... More than just about any player (at the Senior Bowl), Locke played as if he had something to prove."

Matthews, who said he and his agent were in talks with several teams before the lockout started, indicated last month that he hopes to be picked up soon.

Matthews and former UK teammate DeQuin Evans worked out together with a personal trainer all summer in hopes of being ready when the lockout ended.

"Every day, I've just tried to do something to get myself better so I can play at the next level," Matthews said in June. "As soon as this (lockout) is over with, they're expecting everyone to come in ready to go."

Several other former Cats worked out for various teams at UK's pro day in March and in private workouts. They also are hoping to get their shots at the NFL, even with the quick turnaround time.

Those players include quarterback Mike Hartline — brother of Miami Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline — fullback Moncell Allen, tackle Brad Durham, long snapper J.J. Helton and defensive tackles Ricky Lumpkin and Shane McCord.

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