'06 NFL Draft Watch: Tennessee

The Volunteers should be back atop the SEC Eastern division this year and return to the conference championship game in December looks likely. The roster is full tremendous NFL potential and several Tennessee players will impact the early rounds of the next several drafts. 

Scouting the SEC: Tennessee 

Running back Gerald Riggs is a well-sized ball carrier who has power on the inside yet also runs away from defenders in the open field.  Also displaying good instincts, Riggs finds the cutback lanes and has the ability to make defenders miss.  Possessing a lot of skill, he was not considered coachable and labeled as an "attitude player" early in his career but the light may have finally gone on for Riggs last year.  There is a very good chance he will end up as a top 40 pick next April and could be drafted a lot earlier.  Junior fullback Corey Anderson is an aggressive lead blocker that opens holes for running backs while also being a solid pass catcher out of the backfield.  Needing to iron out the rough edges of his game, Anderson is a solid prospect for the future who could develop into a triple threat fullback. Several Volunteer offensive linemen will be playing on Sunday's starting with a junior Arron Sears.  A massive blocker, Sears is experienced at both tackle and guard.  Dominant, he displays outstanding power and possesses a terrific lineman's build.  Getting movement from run blocks, Sears is patient in pass protection and anchors at the point yet lacks the necessary footwork for the left tackle position he presently plays for the Volunteers.  Sears will be a highly rated guard when he enters the draft.  Strong side tackle Albert Toeaina is another lineman with great size and strength. A solid position blocker with a nasty attitude, he annihilates opponents at the point of attack and consistently looks for someone to hit.  Best in a small area, Toeaina is a solid middle round choice at right tackle and may also get consideration at guard.  Finally Cody Douglas is a hard worker who easily knocks defenders from their angle of attack.  Lacking footwork and ability in space, Douglas is exploited by quick opponents and will be limited to the type of schemes he can be used in. Senior wide out C.J. Fayton is a well-sized pass catcher who does the little things well.  Consistently coming back to the quarterback or finding the open spot in the defense, he displays good eye/hand coordination and makes the reception away from his frame.  Fayton lacks the deep speed and presents himself as a fifth receiver for an NFL team.  Sophomore Robert Meachem looks like a star in the making and will be the next great receiver prospect to come from the Tennessee program.  A terrific combination of size and speed, he is a dominant pass catcher with a great future ahead of him. 

The defensive line has four solid prospects, including a pair of seniors and two underclassmen.  Tackle Jesse Mahelona is an intense defender, constantly flying around the action and working to make positive plays.  Built low to the ground, Mahelona commands double teams and is tough to move off the point.  Best in a straight line, Mahelona has only a short burst of speed and lacks great size for the inside.  His intensity, playing style and ability to stuff the run will help him find a spot in next April's first day.  Defensive end Parys Haralson is an explosive pass rusher consistently making plays in the opponents backfield.  Flashing speed, Haralson constantly makes plays up and down the line of scrimmage.  Possessing just adequate size, Haralson is viewed by some as an outside linebacker at the next level and may ultimately stand up over tackle in a 34 defense.  Junior tackle Justin Harrell is an explosive lineman who gets off the snap with a great first step and makes plays in all directions of the field. Harrell offers a lot of skills and could develop into a top defensive tackle prospect for 2007.  Tackle/end Turk McBride is another junior prospect to watch for the future.  A good athlete, McBride must add bulk and improve his playing strength.  The team's three starting linebackers all have excellent NFL potential.  Weak side defender Jason Mitchell is a good athlete who makes plays sideline-to-sideline and displays top instincts for the game.  Reading the action, he stays with assignments and displays quickness in all aspects of his game.  Undersized, Mitchell gets caught in the trash moving laterally and may only be effective in certain NFL systems.  Strong side linebacker Omar Gaither is another solid athlete who displays excellent range.  Hard-hitting, he consistently makes plays on the ball carrier.  Gaither also displays skill in pass coverage and runs with tight ends down the field or creates havoc on the blitz.  He possesses adequate size and could slide into the late part of day one.  Kevin Simon returns after missing almost the entire 2004 season with a knee injury.  An explosive defender, Simon had a brilliant sophomore campaign in 2003 when many considered him a better prospect then teammate Kevin Burnett, selected in the second round of last April's draft by the Dallas Cowboys.  Simon combines great instincts with explosion, standing out in pursuit or pass coverage.  He has the ability to be used at several linebacker positions and should he return to full health, Simon will climb into the first two rounds of the 2006 draft.  Defensive back Jason Allen has been highly rated by NFL scouts for three years.  An athletic player with outstanding sideline-to-sideline range and lateral speed, Allen is terrific in pass coverage or run defense.  Consistently making plays on the football, he is technically sound and at the same time an instinctive defender.  A free safety who will also be given consideration at cornerback, expect Allen to land in the top 32 selections next April.  

Tennessee Prospect List 

 Name Pos Yr #
Jason Allen S 4Sr 18
Corey Anderson FB 4Jr 41
Cody Douglas G 4Sr 70
C.J. Fayton WR 5Sr 17
Omar Gaither OLB 4Sr 44
Parys Haralson DE 4Sr 98
Justin Harrell DT 4Jr 92
Jesse Mahelona DT 4Sr 55
Turk McBride DE 3Jr 90
Robert Meachem WR 3So 3
Jason Mitchell OLB 5Sr 35
Gerald Riggs RB 4Sr 21
Arron Sears T 3Jr 76
Kevin Simon ILB 5Sr 2
Albert Toeaina T 4Sr 72

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