Tennessee football: Primer for former Vols in 2019 NFL Draft

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01: The NFL shield logo is seen following a press conference held by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (not pictured) at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01: The NFL shield logo is seen following a press conference held by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (not pictured) at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

Tennessee football could have some players taken in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here is everything you need to know about the former Volunteers going pro.

The 2019 NFL Draft was already expected to be extremely light on former Tennessee football players. And it ended with no Vols taken, which was the third time over the past five years that has happened.

Their best-case scenario was only one player taken. However, they still have plenty of players with pro potential, and the previous years have shown that UT is a great place for undrafted free agents to launch a career.

As a result, we’ll continue to do our draft coverage of the Vols. It’s really our pro coverage in general and a look at where former players end up landing. But we also will bring up the features we did for this year and our analysis. We also have links to all the coverage we’ve done. So here is everything you need to know about Tennessee football in the NFL Draft.

Where players landed

Alexis Johnson Jr. invited to Titans mini camp

Despite not inking an official deal, Alexis Johnson became the third former Vols defensive lineman to get a look from the NFL. He’s also the second one to get that look from the Tennessee Titans. Johnson, who started at defensive tackle, was invited to the Titans rookie mini camp.

Quart’e Sapp signs with Titans

After surprising many Vols fans by declaring early for the draft, Quart’e Sapp has found his home. He did not get drafted but appears to have signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans. At least, that’s what he implied in a tweet and then was further noted by other reports.

Kyle Phillips signs with Jets

The best player on the Vols in 2018, or at least the biggest breakout star, was defensive end Kyle Phillips. He had the best chance of any former Vol of being selected in the draft. Although he wasn’t taken, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets, a team that was targeting him from the start.

Shy Tuttle signs with Saints

Defensive line was expected to be the Vols’ strongest suit from this class in the pros, even if none of them were drafted. Well, none of them were drafted. But Shy Tuttle was the first player on the line who signed with a team, and it was with the New Orleans Saints.

Micah Abernathy signs with Vikings

After being shut out of the draft, Tennessee football had a few players early on ink deals. Micah Abernathy was among the first, as he signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings and made his announcement on Twitter.

Draft coverage

5 reasons Vols were shut out of the 2019 NFL Draft

Lots of the blame for the horrendous draft showing falls on former Vols coach Butch Jones, and for good reason. However, let’s look at the specific things that happened under him to lead to no players being selected.

2010s was worst NFL Draft decade in Vols history

After being shut out of its third NFL Draft in five years, the numbers are official. The 2010s was by far the worst NFL Draft decade for the Vols since it was fully implemented, dating back to the 1940s. Sure, it was worse in the 1930s, but we can’t count that since it didn’t begin until 1936.

2020 could be a big draft for Tennessee football

They may have been shut out of their third NFL Draft in five years, but the Vols have a chance to make a huge impact in the 2020 NFL Draft. Lots of talent, including many underclassmen, could be called from Rocky Top.

Early 2020 mock drafts have Trey Smith a top 10 pick

Despite consistent health issues that have limited him on the field, Tennessee football offensive lineman Trey Smith is still getting some early love for NFL scouts. In fact, he could be as high as a top 10 pick.

No Vols taken in 2019 NFL Draft

From 1964 to 2014, the Tennessee Vols had at least one player taken in the draft every year. However, 2019 marked the third time in five years that they were shut out. No Vols were taken once again this year after they were also shut out in 2015 and 2016.

Former Vol Al Wilson announces NFL Draft picks in Nashville

Tennessee legend Al Wilson, notable for leading the Vols to the 1998 national championship, was in Nashville Friday evening. He was there to announce the two second round draft picks for the Denver Broncos, where he played for eight years and was a five-time Pro Bowler.

JJ Watt lobbies for Vols signee Elijah Simmons at draft

Tennessee 2019 commit Elijah Simmons was among 13 people on stage as the Tennessee Titans made their selection during the draft. Houston Texans superstar defensive end JJ Watt singled the four-star defensive tackle out after seeing him and lobbied for him to be drafted.

2019 NFL Draft projections: Where will former Vols go?

Expectations are low for the Vols in the 2019 draft. Here are our projections of which Vols will be drafted, signed as undrafted free agents and invited to camp along with a look at where each of them will go.

Ranking former Vols in the 2019 NFL Draft by potential

Similar to last year, Tennessee football may not have many guys go in the draft this year, but many players do have potential. Here is how all of those players stack up against each other with the draft underway in Nashville.

Draft features

Ranking every Vols Draft class this decade

After being shut out of the 2019 draft, the Vols clearly had a very light decade when it came to players being selected. However, that doesn’t mean they didn’t have some solid draft classes. Here is a ranking of every one in the 2010s.

Top 10 Vols who weren’t first-round NFL Draft picks 

Tennessee once again had no former players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft this year. But some of the greatest Vols ever to grace the NFL suffered the same fate and were fine. Here is a look at who they are.

Vols top 5 NFL Draft years after losing seasons

Although they went 5-7 in 2018, Tennessee football has actually had some loaded draft years coming on the heels of a losing record. That’s not likely to happen this year, but here’s a look at times it did happen.

Ranking all 5 first-round draft picks from Tennessee this decade

It was certain that the Vols would have nobody go in the first round of this year’s draft. That leaves their total number of first-rounders produced this decade at five. Here is how those players rank against each other based on their pro career.

20 years ago, winningest Vols of modern era went pro 

The Vols are not expected to have a heavy draft in 2019. Their draft 20 years ago was coming off the 1998 national championship. It was lighter for them than the draft the previous year and the following year, but this draft involved some of the most key Vols and the winningest Vols in the history of the program.

Best landing spots for former Vols

5 best landing spots for former Vol Micah Abernathy 

Safety Micah Abernathy was a solid, intelligent four-year player for the Vols who was able to play in different systems. However, he struggled a bit with consistency, so he still has something to prove. Here are five places in the NFL that would allow him to do that.

5 best landing spots for former Vol Alexis Johnson

Jeremy Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme and Alexis Johnson’s return to health allowed him to finally reach the potential he had when he arrived on campus as a junior college transfer in 2016. It also really improved his draft stock as a massive, playmaking defensive tackle. Here are the best places in the NFL for him to utilize those skills.

5 best landing spots for former Vol Jonathan Kongbo

As an edge rusher more built to line up in a 4-3 system, Jonathan Kongbo hurt his draft stock after suffering a season-ending injury. However, he still has a ton of potential, so here’s a look at the ideal spots in the NFL for him to reach it.

5 best landing spots for former Vol Kyle Phillips

Already a proven player for Butch Jones, Kyle Phillips finally had a healthy year to himself in Jeremy Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme for 2018. Despite a losing record by the Vols, Phillips had a breakout year himself and managed to become the best player on the team. He also has the best chance of being selected in the draft. Here are the ideal places for him.

5 best landing spots for former Vol Quart’e Sapp

Linebacker Quart’e Sapp surprisingly declared early for the draft. He may not go but is likely to be signed somewhere. Here are the most ideal landing spots for him.

5 best landing spots for former Vol Shy Tuttle

In the transition to a 3-4 defense, Shy Tuttle was the only proven player entering last season for the Vols, so he had to play the less glamorous role of nose tackle. It may have hurt his draft stock, but he showed he could do more. Here are the places that would work best for him to show that in the pros.