On April 20, 2002, the Indianapolis Colts drafted former WKU defensive back Joseph Jefferson 74th overall in the third round of the NFL draft, making him the highest drafted Hilltopper in school history.
However, Jefferson’s title as the school’s highest draftee is in serious jeopardy. After not giving up a single sack during his senior season, former WKU offensive lineman Forrest Lamp is projected to be selected as high as No. 9 to the Cincinnati Bengals and as late as No. 31 to the Atlanta Falcons in tonight’s NFL Draft in Philadelphia.
Hardly any draft boards list Lamp slipping out of the first round. ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay projects Lamp to go No. 15 overall to the Indianapolis Colts. Five other draft analysts project Lamp to go 22nd overall to the Miami Dolphins, pitting a potential reunion with former WKU quarterback and Lamp’s college teammate Brandon Doughty.
Lamp was one of the select few players invited to attend the NFL draft, but decided to turn down the offer, opting to have a draft party near his hometown in Venice, Florida.
Before his pro day and NFL combine performances, most scouts projected Lamp to be selected in the late second or early third round. Those projections changed after the former All-American proved his athleticism outweighed the other prospects at the NFL Combine.
Lamp’s 34 reps in the bench finished tied for second behind only Isaac Asiata of Utah. His 40-yard dash time of 5.00 seconds finished fourth among offensive linemen.
One aspect that may hurt Lamp is his arm length. His arm measured 32 1/4 inches while the majority of offensive lineman prospects measured from 34-36 inches.
As a redshirt freshman, Lamp earned the starting right guard position. After just three games in that spot, Lamp moved to left tackle where he played the rest of his college career. Due to his shorter arm length, many draft analysts believe Lamp will transition back to guard at the pro level.
Because of his rare athleticism, McShay believes Lamp would fit in well with the Colts based on their offensive scheme. Last season, over 80 percent of the Colts’ run plays were inside or outside zone, meaning the offensive linemen are asked to display their athleticism more often than usual. If Lamp were to fall to No. 22 to the Dolphins, he would likely immediately be asked to play guard.
Four draft analysts mentioned Miami’s 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil’s move to the left tackle position as a positive sign for Lamp, who would presumably fit in at the left guard spot.
Several other former Hilltoppers, most notably wide receiver Taywan Taylor, are also expected to either get drafted or signed by NFL teams as free agents.
Taylor is projected to go in the third round in most mock drafts.
Former offensive linenam Max Halpin and receiver Nicholas Norris aren’t projected to be drafted until the later rounds, if at all. However, both are on teams’ radars and are expected to be given a shot by some NFL coaches.
Judging by team evaluations and mock draft experts’ analyses, if one thing is for sure, Joseph Jefferson’s time as the highest ever drafted player in WKU history is dwindling.
The NFL Draft begins tonight at 7 p.m. CT with only the first round selections. The second and third rounds will take place tomorrow while the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds will bookend the draft on Sunday.
Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-799-8247and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @SammyP14.