Scouting the SEC: Tennessee

Though the play on the field has been a bit erratic the past few seasons, Tennessee remains a hotbed of NFL talent. Once again pro-scouts will flock to Knoxville as the Volunteers possess highly rated prospects on both sides of the ball.

While he is not a prospect his father was, left tackle Michael Munoz still grades out very highly and will be a first day pick next April.  A mountain of a man, Munoz is a blocker who bends his knees, plays with leverage and destroys opponents, pushing them off the line or engulfing them.  Keeping his feet moving in pass protection, Munoz is also a solid position blocker that walls defenders from the action.  Displaying top awareness, he possesses excellent arm punch and is always looking to hit someone or help out linemates.  Though he lacks the top blocking range as well as footwork sliding out to protect the edge the positives were far outweigh the negatives for Munoz who could slide into the late part of the first round.  Another senior, Jason Respert  moves into the starting position at center.  A versatile lineman who could be used at any interior blocking position, Respert is another tough and hard working prospect that dominates the opposition yet is best in a small area.  After a terrific sophomore season, Respert was moved in and out of a lineup last season and needs a big senior campaign to move into the middle rounds.  Tight end Victor McClure is a solid blocker who turns defenders off the line or controls them once engaged at the point of attack.  Attacking blocking assignments, he gets movement from run blocks and handles his own  against defensive lineman.  Not much of a factor in the passing game, McClure rarely makes receptions into the defensive secondary and is more of a second tight end for the next level.  Receiver Tony Brown is a consistent target and reliable pair of hands yet a wide out with poor size\speed numbers for the next level.  The Volunteers have a pair of the senior ball carriers that will draw much debate and discussion.  Cedric Houston possesses speed, agility and the ability to run either inside or outside of tackle.  Displaying outstanding first step quickness, Houston has a burst through the hole or bounces it to the outside avoiding defenders.  Also a solid receiver out of the backfield, he is a threat if given any amount of open area on the field.  Unfortunately for Houston injuries have caused him to miss time, which may be part of the reason why he lacks the great ball carrying intangibles.  And though his athletic ability gives him a good amount of upside, Houston is a risky proposition as a top 60 selection next April.  Teammate Jabari Davis is a big bodied ball carrier who may be best as a lead blocker.  Displaying first step quickness and power in his lower body, Davis picks up yardage off initial contact while also displaying a burst through the hole.  More a straight-line runner he has difficulty changing direction and seemingly loses intensity at fullback.

The defense is highlighted by a pair of outstanding linebacker prospects.  Senior Kevin Burnett is an athletic defender that forces the action up the field yet also displays speed to the flanks and excellent range.  Doing a fine job moving laterally, Burnett gets excellent depth on pass drops and even displays the ability to run with opposing receivers in coverage.  Defeating blocks at the point of attack, he is fast blitzing off the corner and wreaks havoc in the offensive backfield.  And though his physical skills are apparent on tape so to are Burnett's deficient mental skills.  Lacking top instincts he does more chasing then actual covering in pass defense and is not a defender that immediately locates the ball.  Burnett may be best in a simplified defense where his read and react responsibilities are kept to a minimum.  Still we expect him to work out well in the post season which will enhance his draft ranking.  Junior Kevin Simon does not have the size of Burnett yet plays a much more intelligent brand of football.  Excellent in pursuit, Simon displays explosion to his game as well as sideline-to-sideline speed.  Disciplined, he stays with assignments and flows well to the ball.  He does have difficulty shedding blocks at the point of attack and while he plays in the middle for the Volunteers, Simon's best position at the next level could be on the weak side.  Junior cornerback Jason Allen is another solid underclassmen prospect who flashes top cover skills and should be a high draft pick in the future.  Defensive ends Parys Haralson and Karlton Neal are a pair of Volunteer defenders to keep an eye on.  Finally, Dustin Colquitt is a big legged punter who kicks for distance and gets hang times which exceed five seconds.  While he should be the first punter selected next April his ability to quickly get the punt off his foot as a senior, especially when rushed, will determine whether or not he is a first day selection.

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