news evaluating the nfl draft prospects for virginia wideouts kemp kt wicks

Evaluating the NFL Draft prospects for Virginia wideouts Kemp, KT, Wicks

Two Virginia wide receivers, Billy Kemp and Dontayvion Wicks, have formally declared for the NFL Draft, and you have to assume that Keytaon Thompson will be joining them.

A quick scan of the NFL Draft big boards looking ahead to late April tells us that Wicks looks to be a Day 2 or Day 3 pick, Thompson, once he puts his name in, could be a Day 3 guy, and that Kemp, at best, will have a chance to make a team as an undrafted free agent.

Dontayvion Wicks

dontayvion wicks
Photo: UVA Athletics

First, to Wicks, 6’2”, 208 pounds, who is coming off a disappointing 2022 season, with just 30 catches on 72 targets for 430 yards and two TDs.

All of the numbers were down, big time, for the Virginia offense in 2022, with the change from Robert Anae’s Air Raid to whatever it was that Des Kitchings was trying to do.

Wicks might have struggled the most.

In 2021, he was a first-team All-ACC guy, with 57 catches on 93 targets for 1,201 yards and nine TDs, and a 128.5 NFL passer rating for his QBs when they were throwing to him.

QB Brennan Armstrong, an NFL prospect who is now in the transfer portal, hoping to escape the dumpster fire of an offense installed by Kitchings and first-year coach Tony Elliott, had a 59.4 NFL passer rating on his targets at Wicks in 2022.

Drops were a big issue for Wicks in 2022 – he had nine of them on Armstrong’s 57 targets, after having five on the 93 targets at him in 2021.

His contested catch rate was just 21.4 percent (3-of-14) in 2022, down from 51.7 percent (15-of-29) in 2021.

The NFL types looking at Virginia’s 2022 season will write the issues off there as bad coaching.

Keytaon Thompson

keytaon thompson
Photo: UVA Athletics

The 6’5”, 216-pound KT would be intriguing to me if I were in a front office, with his size and athleticism.

A four-star QB recruit out of high school, Thompson made the switch to wideout in 2020 after injuring his throwing shoulder while competing with Armstrong for the QB1 job in training camp.

The 2021 season was a breakout year for him: 78 catches on 112 targets, 990 yards, two touchdowns, 95.5 NFL passer rating for the QBs on his targets, seven drops.

And he was used all over by Anae: 68.5 percent of his snaps in the slot, 19.2 percent out wide, 6.5 percent inline.

Thompson didn’t have quite the dropoff that the rest of the offense did in 2022: 53 catches on 77 targets for 579 yards, 85.4 NFL passer rating on his targets, 10 drops.

Not that it matters, but he was third-team All-ACC.

His height and athleticism could project to him being used as a slot receiver, and I could see him being asked to add 10-20 pounds to become a pass-catching tight end.

Billy Kemp

billy kemp
Photo: UVA Athletics

I don’t see it.

The 2022 season was forgettable for Kemp (16 catches on 28 targets, 116 yards, 52.1 NFL passer rating on his targets, three drops), largely because he wasn’t ever 100 percent in terms of on-field health.

Kemp put up good numbers in 2020 and 2021 – a combined 141 catches on 196 targets for 1,354 yards and seven TDs, with 13 drops, and a nice 106.0 NFL passer rating on his targets in 2021.

His issues with on-field health, and his lack of size – 5’9”, 172 pounds – make him a reach.


Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, Want to reach me? Try [email protected].