Vols and NFL Draft

Tennessee hasn't had a player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft the past three years. And, if the folks at ESPN Magazine are correct, the drought is about to reach four years.

ESPN's NFL Draft Guide – on newsstands now – predicts that nine Vols will be selected on April 29. The quality of UT's prospects doesn't match the quantity, however.

Defensive back Jason Allen, coming off a hip injury, is rated No. 81 among this year's Draft-eligible prospects, which projects him to be a mid third-round pick. Defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona is ranked as the No. 93 prospect, making him a late third-round pick.

Three more Vols are projected to go in Round 4 – linebacker Kevin Simon (prospect No. 128), tailback Gerald Riggs (No. 136) and guard Rob Smith (No. 160).

Linebacker Omar Gaither (No. 173) and defensive end Parys Haralson (No. 174) are projected as possible back-to-back selections in Round 5. Guard Cody Douglas (No. 202) and offensive tackle Albert Toeaina (No. 234) are projected as sixth-rounders.

By position, ESPN tabs Smith No. 9 among guards, Mahelona No. 10 among defensive tackles, Allen No. 11 among cornerbacks, Simon No. 12 among outside linebackers. Riggs is No. 13 among tailbacks, Douglas No. 13 among guards, Gaither No. 15 among outside linebackers, Haralson No. 16 among defensive ends and Toeaina No. 20 among offensive tackles.

ESPN lists several "Bargain Bin" players at each position. These are players who likely will have to settle for free-agent contracts with NFL clubs. Four Vols are mentioned among the Bargain Bin options. They are junior Tony McDaniel (rated No. 35 among defensive tackles), Chris Hannon (No. 43 among receivers), C.J. Fayton (No. 52 among receivers) and Jason Mitchell (No. 59 among outside linebackers).

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