New team: Kansas City Chiefs (NFL Draft Round 6, Pick 226)
It’s not like Tennessee football couldn’t use more help at guard. We should also note that Brandon Kennedy’s departure makes this worse, as two-thirds of the heart of the offensive line’s interior the past two years are now gone.
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However, Trey Smith is No. 1 on this list based on his own merits, not the depth of the position. Smith’s leadership qualities, intangibles, toughness and inspiration alone as a guy who returned for his senior season to fulfill a promise to his late mother and battled blood clots to get on the field would make him a valuable member of the team on his own.
His play at left guard has an even bigger impact, though. There’s a big reason for the fact that the three full seasons he played, the 6’6″ 330-pound elite blocker earned First Team All-SEC each time. He would have earned it all four seasons if not for 2018 being cut shot for him due to his blood clots, and he was playing left tackle that year.
The only reason he fell to the sixth round in the NFL Draft is due to health concerns, but he’s already in line to be a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. His ability is impossible to overlook, and that makes him by far the most impossible player to replace. He’s been the best player on the team the past four years.
Cade Mays is still returning to start at right guard. Jerome Carvin will be solid as well along with other guys. Smith being gone, though, is devastating for Tennessee football. Riley Locklear’s forced retirement due to injury makes it even worse, but Smith would have been No. 1 on this list even if that didn’t happen.