New team: New Orleans Saints (Undrafted free agent signing)
Technically, Shawn Shamburger was on last year’s team. Otherwise, his transfer would have made this list. However, Tennessee football’s secondary saw a huge drop-off from 2019 to 2020 because of Nigel Warrior graduating and Shamburger, their highest graded returning player, only appearing in three games at nickel.
The pass defense became a huge issue, and only Bryce Thompson was a consistent player. Thompson, who has been a lockdown corner when in the game the past three years, had two interceptions, including a pick-six. He had eight for his career in three years.
With Thompson gone, the Vols have to figure some things out. Jaylen McCollough and Trevon Flowers would seem to be fine at safety, but there were times they struggled last year. The same holds true for Alontae Taylor at cornerback. To be fair, Taylor and McCollough were banged up, and Flowers was returning from an injury.
Then there are veterans Theo Jackson, Cheyenne Labruzza and Kenneth George Jr. while Warren Burrell adds potential. However, the secondary issues combined with Thompson’s early departure for the NFL still make him a huge loss. He’s a huge playmaker, and Tim Banks has a lot of work to do figuring out who can fill the void he left.