When I was a kid, I watched the NFL Draft from almost start to finish every year. And the only reason why was the Vols: nine players selected in 1991, nine again in 1992. Even when the draft was shortened to seven rounds, the Vols put 14 names on the board in 1995 and 1996 combined.
There’s a depth component to that Tennessee is still trying to build overall today. But in the early rounds, and especially on offense? You’ve got a chance to see it just about as good as it’s ever been done at Tennessee this weekend.
Here are the most recent comparisons overall; as with just about everything else regarding the 2022 Vols, it’s been awhile:
The Last Time…
- Three players taken in the first three rounds: 2017 (Derek Barnett, Alvin Kamara, Cam Sutton)
- Three players taken in the first two rounds: 2010 (Eric Berry, Dan Williams, Montario Hardesty)
- Four players taken in the first three rounds: 2007 (Justin Harrell, Robert Meachem, Arron Sears, Turk McBride, Jonathan Wade)
- Four players taken in the first two rounds: 2007 (Harrell, Meachem, Sears, McBride)
- Three players taken in the first round: 2002 (John Henderson, Donte Stallworth, Albert Haynesworth)
If we get to that last benchmark – Darnell Wright, Hendon Hooker, and Jalin Hyatt all have first round mocks out there – it would tie the UT record. Along with 2002, three Tennessee players were taken in the first round in 1998 (Peyton Manning, Terry Fair, Marcus Nash) and 1991 (Charles McRae, Antone Davis, Alvin Harper).
And if both Byron Young and Cedric Tillman join Hooker, Hyatt, and Wright in the first three rounds? You’d have five players taken in the first three rounds for the first time since 2007, and just the sixth time ever:
Five Players Taken in the First Three Rounds:
- 2007: Justin Harrell, Robert Meachem, Arron Sears, Turk McBride, Jonathan Wade
- 2002: John Henderson, Donte Stallworth, Albert Haynesworth, Fred Weary, Will Overstreet
- 2000: Jamal Lewis, Shaun Ellis, Raynoch Thompson, Chad Clifton, Dwayne Goodrich, Cosey Coleman, Deon Grant, Darwin Walker (that’s eight from the 1998 national champions)
- 1998: Peyton Manning, Terry Fair, Marcus Nash, Leonard Little, Jonathan Brown
- 1992: Dale Carter, Chris Mims, Carl Pickens, Chuck Smith, Jeremy Lincoln
Once again: other than the 1998 national champions, you can put the 2022 Vols in the conversation with any other modern era team at Tennessee. On-field success is getting ready to translate into the NFL.