The Vols’ 2017 Draft Class By the Numbers

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    Tennessee’s six-man draft class in the 2017 NFL Draft ended up being one of the biggest and most diverse draft classes the Vols have had in quite some time. From Derek Barnett to Josh Dobbs, here’s the Vols’ 2017 NFL draft class by the numbers.


    This year’s draft class saw six Vols get selected by five different NFL teams. That was the most players Tennessee has had taken in a single draft since 2010 when six Vols went off the board that year. The Vols’ six players were all taken within the first 135 picks of the draft, and that kind of concentration of Vol players drafted hadn’t been done since 2002 when six Vols were taken in the first 119 picks. That 2002 class saw 10 Vols get drafted overall.

    Cam Sutton and Josh Dobbs were both drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it marked the first time since 2007 that a pair of Vol teammates were drafted by the same team. That year, Robert Meachem and Marvin Mitchell were both drafted by the New Orleans Saints.

    And, of course, when Derek Barnett was selected No. 14 overall to Philadelphia, he was the first Vol drafted since 2014. Tennessee notoriously had a two-year NFL draft drought coming into this draft.

    Derek Barnett

    The Vols hadn’t had a first-round draft pick since Ja’Wuan James went to Miami with the No. 19 overall pick in 2014. Derek Barnett ended that streak, however, when the Eagles took him with the 14th overall pick. Barnett became the first Vols defensive lineman to be drafted in the first round since Dan Williams in 2010, and he was the first Tennessee defensive end to go in the first round since Robert Ayers in 2009.

    Barnett was the first Vols’ defensive lineman to be drafted at all since Daniel McCullers was taken in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, and he was the first Vol defensive end to be drafted since Malik Jackson went in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. Barnett was just the fourth defensive lineman overall the Vols have had drafted since the 2009 draft.

    Alvin Kamara

    When the New Orleans Saints took Alvin Kamara with the 67th overall pick in the third round, he became the first Vols’ running back to be drafted since Montario Hardesty was selected with the 59th overall pick in the second round of the 2010 draft. In fact, Kamara was just the fourth Vols’ running back to be drafted since the 2004 draft. Kamara became the sixth Vol running back to be drafted in the first three rounds of a draft since 1995 (there have been 10 Vol running back drafted in that span).

    Cam Sutton

    Tennessee’s Cam Sutton became the first Vols’ defensive back to be drafted since Eric Berry went No. 5 overall in the 2010 draft. Sutton was also the first Vol cornerback to be taken since Jonathan Wade was selected with the No. 84 overall pick in the third round of the 2007 draft. Sutton is only the third Vol cornerback to be drafted since 2006.

    Jalen Reeves-Maybin

    Despite being injured for most of the 2016 season, the Detroit Lions decided to draft Jalen Reeves- Maybin with the 124th overall pick in the fourth round. Reeves-Maybin was the first Vol linebacker to be drafted since Jerod Mayo in 2008. Reeves-Maybin was also the earliest Tennessee linebacker to be drafted since Mayo when he went to New England with the 10th overall pick.

    Reeves-Maybin and Mayo are the only Vol linebackers to be drafted in the last 10 drafts. But Reeves-Maybin did become the 10th Tennessee linebacker to be drafted since 2000.

    Josh Malone

    The Vols hadn’t had a wide receiver drafted into the NFL since Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter were taken in the 2013 draft. But Josh Malone ended that drought when the Cincinnati Bengals came calling with the 128th overall pick in the fourth round. Malone joins those two as well as Denarius Moore and Robert Meachem as the only Vol receivers to be drafted since 2007.

    Josh Dobbs

    When Josh Dobbs was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 135th overall pick, he became the first Tennessee quarterback to be selected in the draft since Jonathan Crompton was taken with the 168th overall pick in the fifth round in 2010. Dobbs was just the fourth Vol quarterback to be drafted since Peyton Manning was drafted No. 1 overall in 1998, joining Tee Martin, Erik Ainge, and Crompton.

    Dobbs was also the third-highest drafted Vol quarterback in Tennessee history. Only Manning and Heath Shuler, two first-round picks, have been drafted higher than Dobbs in the school’s history.

    Dobbs was drawing many comparisons to Dak Prescott of last year’s draft. Prescott was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round last year and ended up starting all 16 games for the Cowboys and completed 67.8 percent of his 459 pass attempts for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. Prescott also ran for 282 yards and six scores.

    Well, Dobbs won’t be escaping those comparisons any time soon. Because Dobbs was taken in the exact same spot as Prescott last year. The Cowboys used the 135th overall pick to select Prescott in 2016, and the Steelers took Dobbs with that same pick this year.


    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.