Tennessee football player makes top-100 list for 2025 NFL Draft class

Tennessee defensive lineman James Pearce Jr. (27) points at a flag thrown against Texas A&M
Tennessee defensive lineman James Pearce Jr. (27) points at a flag thrown against Texas A&M / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA

Tennessee football will have 22 seniors this year, but only one name appears in the top 100 players for the 2025 NFL Draft class. While the Vols didn't have any first-round draft picks this year, we could see another Tennessee player taken off the board in the top ten again in 2025. 

Junior edge rusher James Pearce Jr is the only Vol to make this year's Pro Football Network top-100 list. He's ranked the No. 8 overall prospect, which places him as a potential top-ten draft pick next season. He's been projected to go anywhere inside the top ten, going all the way to No. 1.

"At 6'5″ and 242 pounds, James Pearce Jr. will need to add more mass to his frame," PFN's Ian Cummings writes about Pearce." But as he showed in 2023 — while amassing 10 sacks and 14.5 TFLs — he has the length, explosiveness, and bend capacity to be a dominant pass-rushing threat."

Pearce is the No. 2 ranked edge rusher in next year's draft class, according to Cummings. He attributes his size again as a negative for Pearce ahead of next year's draft, but he has a full year to add the mass needed to be an effective pass rusher in the NFL. 

Penn State's Abdul Carter is the only edge rusher who ranks ahead of Pearce in the top 100 and edge rusher rankings. Carter is currently the No. 6 player in Cummings' rankings, putting him two spots ahead of Pearce. 

ESPN has Pearce ranked a bit higher. He is currently mocked for going No. 4 overall in the 2025 draft, sending him to the Carolina Panthers. ESPN projects that Carolina will move back from No. 1 overall and swap picks with the New York Giants to get Pearce at No. 4. 

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While it's exciting to see another Tennessee player projected in the top ten, we're still a long way from next year's NFL Draft. A lot can change from now to next April, with an entire season of college football still ahead of us. Pearce could add size, continue to improve his game, and be considered the best player in next year's draft by the time April rolls around.