Tennessee had six players drafted into the NFL in the 2017 NFL Draft. And two of those players had good enough seasons to be selected onto an all-rookie team after their first year in the NFL ended.
The Pro Football Writers of America voted on their 2017 NFL All-Rookie team, and two former Vols made the cut. Running back Alvin Kamara and defensive end Derek Barnett both made the team, becoming the first Vols since offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James in 2014 to be named to the PFWA’s All-Rookie team.
Kamara earned Rookie of the Year honors from the NFL for his performance this past season. The third-round pick out of Tennessee put up gaudy numbers for New Orleans in his first year in the league, totaling 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns (8 rushing, 5 receiving, 1 kickoff return). Kamara became only the second rookie in NFL history to total five rushing scores, five receiving touchdowns, and a kickoff return touchdown in the same season. The only other player to do so was Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.
While Barnett may not have had as strong of an individual season as Kamara, his rookie campaign ended better than anyone else’s on the PFWA All-Rookie team. Barnett and the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday, and Barnett made one of the biggest plays in the game to help the Eagles prevail over New England.
As a rookie, Barnett finished with 23 tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and he returned a fumble for a touchdown. The Eagles drafted Barnett in the first round with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.