For the third time in the last five years, Tennessee has failed to have a player selected in the NFL Draft.
The 2019 NFL Draft concluded on late Saturday afternoon, and it finished without a single Vol picked in any of the seven rounds. The SEC as a conference had 64 players selected, and the other 13 SEC teams had at least two players taken in the draft. Eight of those other 13 teams (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M) had at least five players drafted.
Tennessee, however, had none.
The 2019 draft joins the 2015 and 2016 drafts as the only drafts for the Vols in the last 50 years to see no players taken.
The 2015 NFL Draft ended Tennessee’s five decade streak of having at least one player selected in the draft. The Vols then followed that up with another goose egg in the 2016 draft. The 2017 NFL Draft saw Tennessee get back in the picture with six players taken in the draft, headlined by Derek Barnett going 14th overall in the first round. Last year, Tennessee had three players selected in the 2018 draft, and Rashaan Gaulden was the earliest Vol taken, going 85th overall in the third round.
This year, though, Tennessee couldn’t find a way to get a player taken in any of the seven rounds of the NFL Draft.
There’s a good chance that several Vols will be signed as undrafted free agents this weekend. Defensive lineman Kyle Phillips, defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, and linebacker Quart’e Sapp are the most likely candidates to find contracts as undrafted free agents and get invited to NFL camps.
Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure at Tennessee is just getting started, and he certainly isn’t responsible for the Vols’ lack of draftable talent after just one year. In fact, several of the players he was responsible for recruiting and developing at other stops ended up being drafted in the early rounds of this year’s draft.
Next year’s NFL Draft will likely see a few Vols selected with Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, Daniel Bituli, and others all set to graduate after the 2019 season.
We will update as players sign undrafted free agent deals.