Despite having a breakout year as a junior this past season and putting up impressive numbers at the NFL Combine, former Vol wide receiver Josh Malone still isn’t getting consideration in the early rounds by most NFL scouts and mock drafters. And Malone feels like he deserves more attention.
“I do feel underrated,” Malone said in an interview on CBS Sports Radio, “just because every time I step on the field, I feel like I’m one of the best wide receivers in the nation. It’s not a bad thing, flying under the radar. But personally, I do feel underrated.
“I feel like a lot of things on film can put me as one of the top wide receivers in the nation.”
As a junior, Malone caught 50 passes for 972 yards and 11 touchdowns. Malone’s 972 yards were the ninth-most receiving yards in a single season in Vol history, and his 11 scores were tied for the third-most in a season in program history. Throw in a 4.40 second 40-yard dash time at the combine, and Malone has the stats and measurables that compare favorably to the top receivers in this year’s draft class.
In his junior year, Malone found his role in Tennessee’s offense as their chief deep threat. But Malone wasn’t just used as a deep pass catcher; the Vols also gave Malone the ball in crucial situations and pivotal third downs. Malone ran more than just one or two routes, and he ran them effectively.
And Malone feels that versatility separates him from other receivers as well.
“I feel like I’m very versatile and I can play a lot of positions and do different things,” Malone stated. “I like to be a very balanced wide receiver. I can go inside or outside. I can’t get pigeonholed into just being able to do one thing.
“And so, just being versatile and doing different things and (working) on different techniques and (being) able to run different routes is just a huge benefit for my game.”
Although Malone feels he’s underrated, he’s embraced the “underdog” role that he’s in.
“I’m going to come and play and compete,” Malone said. “I’m not a loud guy. I’m not going to talk a lot. I’m just going to come in, get my job done and handle my business and get off the field and just continue to just fly under the radar and stay low-key.”
The 2017 NFL Draft runs from April 27th through April 29th. The first round is on April 27th, the second and third rounds are on April 28th, and the final four rounds are on April 29th.