Seven Vols to be drafted

That cold front moving through Knoxville this week might be merely a draft ... the National Football League Draft, to be precise. Seven former Tennessee football players are likely to be picked in the upcoming NFL selection process.

At least, that's the contention of Scout.com's Tom Marino, who recently undertook the imposing task of projecting an entire seven-round mock draft.

Although the 2006 Vols were not considered to be one of Phillip Fulmer's more talented squads, Marino sees four members of last fall's team being selected within the first 50 picks. He thinks five ex-Vols will be called on Day 1, with two more being selected on Day 2.

Like all of the other draft analysts, Marino believes the first Vol selected will be wideout Robert Meachem, who set UT's single-season receiving record as a sophomore last fall with 1,298 yards. Marino suspects Meachem will remain in-state, going to the Tennessee Titans with pick No. 19.

Marino pegs guard Arron Sears as the second Vol to be selected, projecting him to join the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts with the final pick (No. 32) in Round 1. If so, Sears someday could be protecting former UT quarterback Peyton Manning.

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell, whose draft status is muddled by a torn bicep that caused him to miss the final 10 games of his senior season, comes next. Projected as a late first-round pick by some analysts, Harrell is pegged to go in the middle of Round 2 by Marino. The Scout.com analyst thinks the San Francisco 49ers will take Harrell with pick 42.

Cornerback Jonathan Wade, who had a big senior year after a disappointing start to his college career, also projects to go in Round 2. Marino has the Titans taking the speedy track man with pick No. 50.

Turk McBride, who played both defensive tackle and defensive end for the Vols, also looms as a Day 1 pick for the NFL Draft. Marino projects him to go in Round 3. Specifically, the Scout.com expert sees McBride joining the Denver Broncos with pick No. 86.

Cory Anderson, who played so badly as a senior that the Vols essentially eliminated the fullback position from their scheme last fall, is projected as a Round 5 pick because of his great size (6-3, 255 pounds). Marino has him going to the Detroit Lions with pick No. 145.

Middle linebacker Marvin Mitchell, who led Tennessee in tackles last fall, projects to be the final Vol picked. Durability concerns will hurt his draft stock, since he spent much of his first four years on campus sidelined by assorted injuries. Still, Marino sees him going in Round 7, joining the Dallas Cowboys with pick 212.

This year's NFL Draft will be held April 28-29 in New York City. Day 1 will be televised by ESPN, with Day 2 aired on its sister station, ESPN2.


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