Running back John Kelly has been feeling the love early on in the 2018 NFL Draft process. He was listed on CBS Sports’ initial top 190 overall prospects, and both he and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie made Matt Miller of Bleacher Report’s first full seven round mock draft.
But one Vol hasn’t been appearing anywhere on big boards or mock drafts. And one NFL draft analyst expects that to change soon.
Dane Brugler, the senior NFL draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, said in a tweet on Sunday night that he thinks the hype train is coming for Vol defensive back Rashaan Gaulden in regards to the NFL draft.
I’m surprised the hype train for #Tennessee DB Rashaan Gaulden hasn’t taken off yet…but it’s coming. Top-50 prospect on my board.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 12, 2018
Brugler has Gaulden, who declared early for the draft after the 2017 season, listed as one of his top 50 overall prospects in his updated big board for the draft. Gaulden comes in at No. 47 on his list, just behind Georgia running back Nick Chubb.
Here’s what Brugler had to say about Gaulden:
“An ideal fit as a nickel defensive back in the NFL, Gaulden has discipline issues, but his play speed and toughness are both outstanding, giving pro coaches a foundation.”
As a redshirt junior, Gaulden was consistently the Vols’ best defender during the 2017 season. The collegiate side of Pro Football Focus often graded him as one of the best defensive backs in college football last season, and he was the most consistent performer on a Tennessee defense that was woefully inconsistent and ineffective as a whole.
But Gaulden was a bright spot for Tennessee, and Brugler thinks he deserves more attention.
Gaulden was one of four Vols to be invited to the upcoming NFL Combine. He, Kelly, McKenzie, and punter Trevor Daniel were all invited to participate at the combine. Gaulden finished his Tennessee career with 140 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, an interception, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries in 36 career games.
Where Other Vols Rank
Gaulden isn’t the only Vol that Brugler has evaluated. Brugler also has Vol tight end Ethan Wolf as one of his top 100 players who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine. Wolf came in at No. 59 on that list.
Brugler has also separated his overall rankings into positional rankings. He has John Kelly listed as the No. 10 running back in the draft class, Wolf as the No. 20 tight end, Brett Kendrick as the No. 23 offensive tackle, Coleman Thomas as the No. 19 center, Jashon Robertson as the No. 30 guard, Aaron Medley as the No. 9 kicker, Kahlil McKenzie as the No. 24 defensive tackle, Rashaan Gaulden as the No. 14 cornerback, and Trevor Daniel as the No. 10 punter.
Brugler gives John Kelly a third round grade and pegs Gaulden somewhere between the third and fourth round. He also gives McKenzie as a seventh round grade, and Brett Kendrick has a seventh round/undrafted free agent grade.