Draft projections for former Vols

With the NFL Draft only 21 days away, many Volunteer fans will be eager to learn how well Tennessee is represented in the ever-publicized college football pecking order that is the April draft.

Last year, Tennessee had only one player selected in the first round – defensive end Robert Ayers, who was selected by the Denver Broncos to play linebacker.

A handful of former Volunteers have made strides this spring in the pre-draft combines, camps and pro-days in a last-chance push to raise their stock and land a nice contract come signing day.

In this year's mock drafts, two Tennessee players are projected to go in the first round, according to draft analysts at ESPN.

Junior safety Eric Berry, one of 16 underclassmen players ranked in the top 32 overall, is expected to be selected among the first five picks.

The 6-foot, 211-pound Berry's listed strengths include vision, instincts, reliable hands and speed.

In early March, Berry wowed scouts with his 40 times, which fell between 4.39 and 4.42 seconds in multiple heats.

Many mock drafts have Berry being selected between the No. 3 and No. 6 picks, to teams such as Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Seattle.

Accompanying Berry in early first-round projections is senior defensive lineman Dan Williams, whose draft stock rose considerably after a productive 2009 season with the Volunteers, in which he compiled 36 solo tackles, 34 assists and two sacks. Williams is expected to be selected near the middle of the first round, which could land him with teams such as Miami, San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

The 6-foot-2, 327-pound defensive tackle is listed with a 5.19 40-yard dash, running a 5.17 in the combine in early March.

Williams is typically listed behind Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska) and Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma) as the third best defensive tackle available in the 2010 draft.

Running back Montario Hardesty has also overachieved in combine workouts, according to scouts. The 6-foot, 225-pound bruiser added 10 pounds to his frame before weigh-in and has raised his stock with his top-six 40-yard dash time at the combine.

Hardesty ran a 4.49 second 40-yard dash, while typically falling around the ninth or 10th position in ranked running backs.

In 2009, Hardesty ran for 1,345 yards on 282 carries for the Vols, while adding 302 receiving yards to collect 13 total touchdowns.

The native of New Bern, N.C., is expected to go between the third and fourth rounds as a "sleeper" pick.

Other notable Vols in the 2010 NFL Draft: junior defensive-back Dennis Rogan; senior guard Jacques McClendon; senior tight end Jeff Cottam; senior defensive end Vladimir Richard; senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton; senior linebacker Rico McCoy; and senior offensive tackle Chris Scott

Noteworthy: In ESPN's rankings, Tennessee is tied with Alabama and Florida with two players each ranked amongst the top 32 available. No other SEC school is represented in this projected list.

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