By David Bradford for VFL insider.
A total of six Vols were drafted this past weekend.
It’s a far cry from the 2015 and 2016 drafts, where ZERO Vols were drafted.
Here are the grades for each selection.
Derek Barnett to the Philadelphia Eagles (1st round, No. 14 overall)
According to Howie Roseman, Barnett was the “highest rated player” on the Eagles’ board. It’s not surprising, considering Barnett is arguably the most prolific pass rusher in SEC history. From an attitude and style perspective, this is a match made in heaven. Barnett’s humble demeanor is culture-altering, while his ability to get off the snap quickly and finish his pursuit fits the Eagles’ defensive line scheme like a glove.
Alvin Kamara to the New Orleans Saints (3rd round, No. 67 overall)
Love the player, love the offense, but uncertain about the fit. The Saints recently signed Adrian Peterson and already have a 1,000-yard back in Mark Ingram. This leads me to believe Kamara will take on a Darren Sproles type role, but even taking that into consideration, the Saints don’t need Kamara. Frankly, Knoxville’s local trap star could get lost in the shuffle. And even with AP and Ingram’s days numbered, I don’t see Kamara as an every down back in the NFL. The former Vol would’ve fared better in Philadelphia or Indianapolis. On those teams, Kamara probably reaches the 1,500 all-purpose yard mark routinely.
GRADE FOR THE TEAM: D
GRADE FOR KAMARA: B+
Cam Sutton to the Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd round, No. 94 overall)
Unfortunately for Sutton, his senior season was derailed due to an ankle injury. When he returned, he was nowhere near 100 percent, but clearly produced at a high enough level throughout his tenure in Knoxville to warrant a third-round selection. Sutton isn’t an every-down, lockdown corner at the NFL level, but could either transition to safety or be utilized in certain packages. It’s not a pick that’ll wow Pittsburgh fans, but the Steelers made a safe bet here with Sutton.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin to the Detroit Lions (4th round, No. 124 overall)
This was a pleasant surprise and an exceptional pick by the Lions. Although Reeves-Maybin is undersized, his natural nose for the football is extremely evident once you study his tape. Similar to Sutton, Reeves-Maybin’s final year in Knoxville was derailed by injuries. If he can remain healthy, the Lions not only add depth at the linebacker spot, but have an instant playmaker and leader. No complaints with this pick.
Josh Malone to the Cincinnati Bengals (4th round, No. 128 overall)
I LOVE this pick. Like love, love, LOVE this pick. Did I mention I love this pick? The Bengals needed to provide Andy Dalton with dynamic weapons. They accomplished that in the first two rounds before snatching Josh Malone in the fourth round. I expect Malone to be Cincinnati’s WR2 on the outside — John Ross will handle the slot — and play the perfect counterpart to A.J. Green. Malone has great size, underrated speed, sure hands, and is a dangerous downfield threat.
Joshua Dobbs to the Pittsburgh Steelers (4th round, No. 135 overall)
The parallels between Joshua Dobbs and Dak Prescott are insane. Mobile SEC quarterbacks? Check. Drafted No. 135 overall? Check. Drafted by historic franchise? Check. Projected backup behind prolific quarterback? Check. Solid offensive foundation in place in case they were to replace the starting quarterback? Check. It’s uncertain whether Dobbs is the future of Steeler football, but his intangibles are off the charts. If he develops properly, maybe he will be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger.