Vols Best Talent is Young Talent

The youth movement currently in process at Tennessee is vividly illustrated in the latest top 25 college seniors as chosen by NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.

Kiper has seven SEC players in his top 25 senior prospects eligible for next April's NFL Draft, including two of the top three in Auburn running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams who are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. Texas tailback Cedric Benson tops Kiper's list.

Other SEC players include: No. 14, defensive end Marcus Spears of LSU, No. 15, defensive lineman David Pollack of Georgia, No. 21, cornerback Carlos Rogers of Auburn, No. 24, offensive guard Marcus Johnson of Ole Miss, and No. 25, cornerback, Corey Webster of LSU.

While the SEC comprises 28 percent of Kiper's top 25 projected seniors, none are from Tennessee. The list also underscores the significance of experienced talent as No. 2 Oklahoma has four players in the top 25, No. 3 Auburn has three players, No. 4 Texas has two players on the list as does No. 1 Southern Cal. FSU and LSU have three players each ranked in the top 25. No other school has more than one player among the senior elite.

The Vols are accustomed to having players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft but this would be the second straight year they will fail to crack that golden ceiling for professional players if things remain as they currently appear.

It's also worth noting that Tennessee doesn't have anyone featured in the top 20 most draftable college football juniors. That list, which is also assembled by Kiper, is headed by USC signal caller Matt Leinart and includes four players from the Virginia Cavaliers — No. 2 D'Brickashaw Ferguson (OT), No. 4 Ahmad Brooks (LB), No. 9 Heath Miller (TE) and No. 12 Darryl Blackstone (LB).

There are a total of four SEC players on the junior list including two from Florida — No. 8 Chuck Faison (RB) and No. 10 Channing Crowder (MLB). The other two conference representatives are No. 6 Thomas Davis, a safety from Georgia and No. 15 Marcus McNeill, an offensive tackle from Auburn.

Another player of interest on the list of college juniors is Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams of Memphis who checks in at No. 3.

Miami and Tennessee have turned out the more NFL players over the last decade than any other teams in college football, but hardly make a dent in Kiper's top 25 junior and senior players. Miami has one representative in senior cornerback Antrel Rolle ranked No. 16.


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