Tennessee football: Top 10 Vols who weren’t first round NFL Draft picks

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Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images /

Honorable Mentions

Bill Anderson

1958 NFL Draft | Round: 3 / Pick: 31

Known more as the radio color commentator on the Vol Network alongside John Ward, Bill Anderson was also an NFL star. He was a key piece of that legendary 1956 Tennessee football team and then was drafted in the third round by the Washington Redskins.

In six seasons with the Redskins, Anderson was a two-time Pro Bowler at end. He then went to the Green Bay Packers for his final two years, winning two NFL Championships and the first Super Bowl in 1966.

Charlie Garner

1994 NFL Draft | Round: 2 / Pick: 42

Charlie Garner was part of a stable of elite running backs in the early 1990s, but he had the most successful career of all of them. After two years with the Vols, the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft.

He played five years with the Eagles, two with the San Francisco 49ers, three with the Oakland Raiders, where he reached a Super Bowl, and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With over 7,000 career pro rushing yards, he made the Pro Bowl in 2000 while playing for San Francisco.

Leonard Little

1998 NFL Draft | Round: 3 / Pick: 65

Leonard Little was the defensive star alongside Peyton Manning on that 1997 SEC Championship team. A guy who could play linebacker and defensive end, he fell to the third round of the NFL Draft. Despite off the field issues, though, he also had major success in the league.

Drafted by the St. Louis Rams, Little won the Super Bowl in 1999. He was also led the league in forced fumbles in 2002 and 2003 with 9 and 6 respectively, then he had a four fumble recoveries and returned two for defensive touchdowns, which also led the league in 2004. An All-Pro player in 2003, Little enjoyed four years with 12 or more sacks and played with the Rams for 12 years.

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Tom Tracy

1956 NFL Draft | Round: 5 / Pick: 50

One of the first key players for Tennessee football following Robert Neyland’s departure, Tom Tracy averaged six yards a carry as a running back and rushed for over 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns in 1953 and 1954 for the Vols. But being part of the program’s slide under Harvey Robinson, his draft stock fell. As a result, he had to go to Canada for two years.

But the Detroit Lions picked him in the fifth round 1956, and he played there for two years, winning the 1957 NFL Championship. Then he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for six years and the Washington Redskins for two. Tracy made two Pro Bowls and had over 2,900 rushing yards, nearly 1,500 yards receiving, 31 touchdowns, three made field goals and four made extra points.

Scott Wells

2004 NFL Draft | Round: 7 / Pick: 251

Chad Clifton is on this list as a star. But Scott Wells was a bigger steal and was Clifton’s teammate on for eight years, starting alongside him at center as the Green Bay Packers won the 2010 Super Bowl. Wells played for Tennessee football from 2000 to 2003, right after Clifton, and was a key piece on the line. But he fell all the way down to the seventh round of the NFL Draft.

Still, Green Bay took a chance and got an eight-year starter. Wells then spent three years with the St. Louis Rams. Over that time, he didn’t just win a Super Bowl, but he also made the Pro Bowl in 2011, proving he was a major steal.