There are many NCAA schools riddled with NFL talent on their rosters. Each player has the sparkle in his eye and the hope of hearing his name called in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 28th. The reality is, not everyone can be selected during the seven-round NFL draft. Today, I break down the NFL talent from the University of Tennessee.
The Tennessee Volunteers
The Volunteers have ten prospects that have a chance to hear their name called during the 2017 NFL draft. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each player.
Derek Barnett – DE
Weight: 259 lbs.
Derek Barnett is one of the top edge rusher talents in this year’s draft. During his three-year tenure at Tennessee, he compiled 52 tackles for loss and 33 sacks. This past season, he broke a 34-year-old record –Reggie White’s SEC sacks in a career is 32. Here is the record breaking sack.
Barnett also led the SEC in tackles for a loss (19) and sacks this season (13). Additionally, he is the only player in SEC history to record 10+ sacks in three straight seasons. He is a highly consistent player who only looks to sharpen his game at the professional level. Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo posted a very telling graphic from Barnett’s career.
Tennessee edge defender Derek Barnett.
Decent career#PFFDraftPass pic.twitter.com/182vazLoUv
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) March 16, 2017
Barnett strengths are easily detectable. He has incredibly durable ankles that allow him to lower his pad level angle and dip under blockers, he is a pro-level hand fighter at the line of scrimmage, and he has numbers to prove his consistency as a premier pass rusher. One AFC college scouting director told NFL.com
“I love the kid…He is a great football player with a nasty temperament. I don’t understand why some scouts aren’t high on him, but he can play for me any day.”
Expect Barnett’s name to be called in the middle of round one on draft night. Teams like the Indianapolis Colts (15th overall) and the Baltimore Ravens (16th overall) are in dire need of an upgrade at defensive end and he brings the proven consistency that can turn a defense around.
Player comparison: Terrell Suggs
Alvin Kamara – RB
Weight: 214 lbs.
Alvin Kamara’s journey has taken him nearly to the end of the world and back. He was one of the most sought after running backs out of high school. Before he played a down for the Crimson Tide, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to redshirt. After a few off-the-field incidents, he found himself playing at Hutchinson Community College in 2014. He finished the season winning “the offensive player of the year award” and transferred to the University of Tennessee.
Kamar’a talent has never been an issue, however.
Kamara in the passing game+++ pic.twitter.com/5pzTlY3yOH
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) March 26, 2017
Some view his “lack of touches” as a positive, some view it as a negative. While he may never run the football 20+ times, he could absolutely touch it 20+ times through receptions, hand-offs, and returns. A key component to understanding why NFL teams are falling in love with him is they see his potential without judging his production. One thing that cannot be overstated is how athletic and gifted this young man is. After his combine workout, teams began salivating over how he could fit into their system.
“@A_kamara6 is CRAZY GOOD.” – @MikeMayock at the #NFLCombine ?? pic.twitter.com/691ZXAc05n
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) March 3, 2017
Since his combine workout, Alvin Kamara has received love from all over. Mike Mayock even joined the bandwagon.
Broad jump: 10’11” (RB leader)
Vertical: 39.5” (RB Leader)@A_kamara6 cemented himself as a top running back prospect. #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/7afMB32yde
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 4, 2017
Teams like the Cincinnati Bengals (41st overall) and the Philadelphia Eagles (43rd overall) would all benefit from Alvin Kamara’s ability to make defenders miss in space. In recent memory, both teams have featured their running backs tremendously in the passing game, and he would undoubtedly be an upgrade for each team.
Player comparison: Devonta Freeman
The Other Volunteers
Cameron Sutton (CB) – Late 3rd round (105th overall) – Pittsburgh Steelers.
Josh Malone (WR) – Mid 4th round (123rd overall) – Baltimore Ravens.
Jalen Reeves – Maybin (OLB) – Early 5th round (151st overall) – Los Angeles Chargers.
Joshua Dobbs (QB) -Early 6th round (192nd overall) – Carolina Panthers.
Jason Croom (TE) – Undrafted.
Corey Vereen (DE) – Undrafted.
Danny Obrien (DT) – Undrafted.
Malik Foreman (CB) – Undrafted.
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