3 Tennessee football rookies that could make the biggest impact in the NFL this fall

Tennessee football sent 12 players into the NFL through the draft and undrafted free agents, so which will make the biggest impact as rookies?
Tennessee defensive back Kamal Hadden (5) during a football game between Tennessee and Texas A&M
Tennessee defensive back Kamal Hadden (5) during a football game between Tennessee and Texas A&M / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA

Tennessee football had three players drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Vols also had nine players sign contracts with teams across the league as undrafted free agents. Which of those players could make the biggest impact in the NFL this Fall? 

A few players have the potential to start or at least get quality playing time throughout the season. The three players drafted out of Tennessee are Jaylen Wright (4th Round, 120th Pick), Joe Milton III (6th Round, 193rd Pick), and Kamal Hadden (6th Round, 211th Pick). 

Seven different NFL teams signed the nine UDFA players from Tennessee. Here's a full list of players who signed a contract after the NFL Draft.

Most of the players signed to an undrafted free agent (UDFA) contract will be competing for a roster spot and likely won't be on any shortlist to start, but there are a few drafted and UDFA players that could breakthrough and make a huge impact with their team this Fall. 

Which Tennessee rookie will make the biggest impact in the NFL this fall?

Jaylen Wright. 59. Jaylen Wright. . Round: 4 Pick: 120. . player. . RB. Jaylen Wright (2024 Draft)

Jaylen Wright was the first Vol taken off the board in the fourth round with the 120th overall pick by the Miami Dolphins. This is one of the best landing spots Wright could have asked for to start his NFL career. 

The Dolphins are stacked offensively and have an experienced quarterback, an offensive-minded head coach, and an open depth chart at running back. Raheem Mostert is Miami's No. 1 running back and rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Unless something drastic changes, I would be surprised if Mostert's role changes in 2024 after signing a one-year, $4.13 million contract extension in April. 

De'Von Achane is the No. 2 back for Miami after rushing for 800 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season. This could be a fun battle to watch throughout camp and preseason between Achane and Wright as they compete for touches as RB2 and RB3. 

Wright has the least tread on his tires of any running back on the roster. That gives him an upper hand against his competition, and he could move up the depth chart throughout the season. He won't be a starter as a rookie but could be a high-value pick for Miami as he gets more touches as the Dolphins get deeper into the season and cement himself as RB2 at the end of his rookie season. 

. . Kamal Hadden. CB. player. 124. Round: 6 Pick: 211. Kamal Hadden. . Kamal Hadden (2024 Draft)

Kamal Hadden will need to spend the first few years of his NFL career rounding out his game. He took a big step in the right direction in his senior year at Tennessee but would need to take another huge step to be NFL-ready by Week 1 this Fall. 

That doesn't mean it's impossible for the sixth-round draft pick. While the Miami running back room is open to competition, the Chiefs' cornerback room is wide open. CBS Sports has projected the Chiefs' starting lineup, with Trent McDuffie and Joshua Williams as the two starting corners and Hadden as CB2 behind Williams. 

While Hadden might be the CB2 on this projected depth chart, it's only May, and there's plenty of time for Hadden to make a statement and be one of the starting corners come Week 1. Even if he doesn't break through as a starter this season, he will still have the opportunity to make an impact in the Chiefs secondary throughout the 2024 season as a second-string corner. 

. Dee Williams. player. . Dee Williams. Dee Williams (UDFA). WR. 36. . Signed UDFA

Dee Williams is one of the nine Tennessee players who signed an undrafted free-agent contract after this year's draft. He did a lot for the Vols, including playing in the defensive secondary and wide receiver and highlighting his career on special teams as a returner. 

Williams will likely have the opportunity to earn a roster spot on Seattle's special teams unit and breakthrough as a punt and kick returner for the Seahawks. This would be his easiest path to making an impact in the NFL, and he would use his explosive playmaking ability to return kicks for the Seahawks. 

The Seahawks don't have an official depth chart, but OurLads posted a projected depth chart for the 2024 season. Williams is currently listed as the second punt returner and third kick returner on the depth chart. That puts him one play away from getting an opportunity to be Seattle's full-time returner. 

To stay on the roster as a special teams player, he will have to make a big impact throughout camp and preseason, but if he can survive the roster cuts, he could be an impact player for the Seahawks throughout the 2024 season.

Tennessee player makes top-100 list for 2025 NFL Draft class. Tennessee player makes top-100 list for 2025 NFL Draft class. dark. Next