The Vols may not have had any players drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, but there have been a handful of former Vols to already find homes as undrafted free agents or have been invited in for rookie minicamp tryouts.
It’s worth noting that none of the players listed below are guaranteed roster spots right now. Undrafted free agents do sign deals, but they are only guaranteed a few thousand dollars in those deals, which makes it easier to cut them than another player drafted in the sixth or seventh round of the NFL Draft.
With that in mind, here are the former Vols who have signed undrafted free agent deals or will be brought in for rookie minicamp tryouts:
Curt Maggitt – Indianapolis Colts
Linebacker/defensive end Curt Maggitt has reportedly been brought on with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent. In 35 games spanning five seasons (he redshirted the 2013 season), Maggitt totaled 141 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, and forced 4 fumbles. A breakout redshirt junior campaign in 2015 positioned him to be an NFL Draft consideration after his senior year in 2016. But injuries plagued Maggitt his entire career, and he only played in two games in 2016 before suffering a season-ending injury. The Colts do need pass rushers, and if Maggitt can recover quickly enough and stay healthy, there’s a chance he can make a roster spot.
Marquez North – Los Angeles Rams
After a solid freshman season with the Vols, wide receiver Marquez North’s trajectory took a downhill turn. He did some good things his sophomore year, but injuries limited him down the stretch. Then North barely saw the field as a junior in 2015. His troubled tenure with Tennessee led him to declare early for the draft, and after a phenomenal NFL Combine and Pro Day showing, there were rumors he may end up drafted. North did not, however, but he has been brought in by the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams seem an odd choice considering they did just draft two receivers, but the first team someone signs on with isn’t always who they end up with. Former Vol Justin Coleman originally signed on with Minnesota last year before landing with New England. North finished his career with the Vols with 74 catches for 874 yards and 5 touchdowns in 24 games.
Brian Randolph – Los Angeles Rams
Even after one of the best Pro Day performances in recent Tennessee memory, safety Brian Randolph ended up going undrafted. The Rams, much like they did with North, however, have brought on Randolph, but Randolph has only been brought in for a rookie minicamp invite. The Rams do only have one free safety on the roster currently and didn’t draft one, so this looks like a very smart choice by Randolph. If it seemed to you like Randolph was at Tennessee forever, that’s because he was. He and Maggitt were both fifth-year seniors in 2015. In 53 games with the Vols, Randolph amassed 310 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 13 pass breakups, and 8 interceptions.
Alton “Pig” Howard – Oakland Raiders *Update: Howard has deleted his tweet about the Raiders, so this may end up not happening.
Wide receiver Pig Howard was dismissed from Tennessee’s football team early in the 2016 season. If not for that, he had a decent shot at getting drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft. As it is, however, Howard has been brought on by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent. The Raiders don’t have a ton of depth behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, so Howard stands a chance of landing a roster spot. In 36 games with the Vols, Howard caught 112 passes for 1,068 yards and 5 scores. He also ran the ball 49 times for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Owen Williams – Atlanta Falcons
Defensive tackle Owen Williams time at Tennessee was brief, but he made enough of an impact in his senior season to receive an invite to Atlanta’s rookie minicamp. Williams came to the Vols in 2014 as a junior college transfer and played in little over half the games in his first year. His senior season saw an uptick in playing time and production. Williams finished with 53 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks in 18 games with Tennessee. The Falcons need some more production along their defensive line, which gives Williams at least a small chance of making their roster.
Alex Ellis – Tennessee Titans
Although he did not garner a significant amount of playing time while at Tennessee, tight end Alex Ellis was able to impress enough with his career and with his Pro Day to land with a team just three hours down the road in the Tennessee Titans. Ellis posted career-highs in receptions (3) and yards (74) in the last game of his Tennessee career when the Vols downed Northwestern 45-6 in the Outback Bowl. The Titans have depth at tight end for now and one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL in Delanie Walker, but Ellis will attempt to find a way onto the team. Ellis had 14 receptions for 232 yards and a touchdown in his career with the Vols.
Chris Weatherd – New Orleans Saints
You can never have too many pass rushers in the NFL, and the New Orleans Saints have brought on former Tennessee pass rusher Chris Weatherd as an undrafted free agent. Weatherd came to the Vols as a junior college transfer in 2014 and played a limited role with Tennessee in his two seasons. But he did enough to draw interest from the Saints despite their large number of linebackers already on roster. Weatherd had 21 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks in 14 games for the Vols.
Kyler Kerbyson – Houston Texans
Kyler Kerbyson was on Tennessee’s roster for five seasons, and as a redshirt senior in 2015, he was by far the most experienced offensive lineman on the Vols’ roster. It’s believed Kerbyson’s highest ceiling is at guard, but he had to play out of position for most of his UT career at tackle because he had the versatility to do so and the Vols needed him to play there. And that versatility may pay off for him in the NFL, as it appears he’s been invited to a rookie minicamp with the Houston Texans.
Tennessee guard-tackle Kyler Kerbyson invited to Texans’ rookie minicamp on tryout basis, according to his agent, Brett Tessler
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) May 2, 2016
Marcus Jackson – Detroit Lions
Although he missed the entire 2015 season with the Vols, guard Marcus Jackson has received an invite to the Detroit Lions minicamp. Jackson started all 12 games he played in for the Vols in 2014 and was one of the most effective linemen for Tennessee that season. The Lions drafted a guard in the fifth round and already have a few options on the roster, but Jackson will at least give it a go in minicamp.
There are still a handful of Vols who have not found homes as undrafted free agents yet, so be sure to check back and we will keep an updates list of who signs where.