Tennessee football QB Nico Iamaleava projected as No. 1 pick in 2026 NFL Draft

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl - Iowa v Tennessee
Cheez-It Citrus Bowl - Iowa v Tennessee / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Tennessee football has yet to take a snap from Nico Iamaleava as the Vols' full-time starting quarterback. Nico started one game last season and was a big part in beating Iowa 35-0 in the Citrus Bowl. 

Nico's inexperience isn't keeping him out of the 2026 NFL Mock Drafts. The Tennessee quarterback is already projected to be the top quarterback in the draft class, ahead of Texas QB Arch Manning, Oregon QB Dante Moore, Oklahoma QB Jackson Arnold, and South Carolina QB LaNorris Sellers, which rounds out all quarterbacks mock drafted in the first round. 

Draft Countdown's Shane Hallam has mocked all seven rounds of the 2026 NFL Draft, placing Tennessee's quarterback at the top of the board. Nico lands at No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers, making it possible that Tennessee could have back-to-back No. 1 overall picks if James Pearce Jr. has another great season this fall. 

Nico is the only quarterback drafted in the top five in this mock draft. Oregon's Moore has been drafted to the New York Giants at No. 6, and Texas' Manning falls to No. 7 to the Tennessee Titans. Oklahoma's Arnold goes to the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 13, and SC's Sellers lands at No. 24 with the Dallas Cowboys. 

Hallam did note to take this mock draft with a grain of salt, given that many of the players in the 2026 draft haven't had much, or any, playing time. If the draft does fall this way, or close to it, that would make two straight draft classes with a weak group of quarterbacks, with only four being drafted in the first round. 

Check out the full 7-round mock draft and see where other Vols land throughout all seven rounds. Hallam has several Vols being drafted throughout the rest of the draft, which gives a positive outlook on Tennessee's future.

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