Two Tennessee football players were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, and only four entered their names. Given the NCAA ruling on eligibility last year due to COVID, most players on Rocky Top are coming back for another season. That could lead to a loaded draft class next season, although numerous other schools will have the same issue.
With Josh Palmer and Trey Smith doing their part to keep up the Vols’ history in the draft this past year, there are lots of UT players with the potential to build on what they did. Although they will be playing in a new system on both sides of the ball this year, they still have great chances to showcase themselves for the pros.
As we get set to break down the Vols with the most pro potential for next year, we’re basing the list mostly on what the players have done so far and their likelihood of seeing a lot of action this year based on the systems. The class will be senior heavy since so many players returned. These are Tennessee football’s top 10 2022 NFL Draft prospects heading into the 2021 season.
6’3″ 290 pounds; Hometown: Savannah, Tenn.
After spending 2017 as a tight end and not playing in 2018, LaTrell Bumphus gave everybody a glimpse of what he could do in 2019, when he first moved to defensive end, with six tackles for a loss, two sacks, a pass deflection, a fumble recovery and 23 overall tackles, 15 of which were solo. That was his first year playing on the edge at defensive line, and he was playing by committee.
Last year, the graduate of Hardin County High School had one and a half tackles for a loss, a sack and 14 tackles, 10 of which were solo, but he only played in four games and was dealing with a knee injury in those games anyway. Simply put, he wasn’t 100 percent.
Now, Bumphus is back and fully healthy, and in Tim Banks’ switch back to four down linemen, he’s likely to be a full-time starter up front. As a result, his experience and potential should pay off, and given his size, he could become one of Tennessee football’s top pro prospects. NFL scouts value versatility up front, and Bumphus will likely put that on display.