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Which Tennessee Players Have Been Drafted Under Josh Heupel

Tennessee NFL Draft
VFL and New York wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. Graphic via Tennessee Athletics.

With the conclusion of the 2024 NFL Draft this past weekend in Detroit, Tennessee added three players to their all-time NFL Draft selections list with RB Jaylen Wright (Miami), QB Joe Milton III (New England), and CB Kamal Hadden (Kansas City).

The three selections in the Motor City also brings the number to 13 in terms of Josh Heupel’s draft picks while at Tennessee.

Heupel was hired in January 2021, which was followed by the NFL Draft that April. While Tennessee had two players taken in the 2021 draft (OL Trey Smith, WR Joshua Palmer), neither played for Heupel during their time on Rocky Top. The first players that Heupel coached at Tennessee entered the NFL during the 2022 draft after his debut season with the Vols in the fall of 2021.

In his first NFL Draft with his Tennessee players in 2022, Heupel watched as five Vols were selected that year. Cornerback Alontae Taylor was the first Vol off the board to the Saints in the second round while wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. was taken by the Bears in the third round. Defensive lineman Matthew Butler was taken by the Raiders in the fifth round while offensive lineman Cade Mays and safety Theo Jackson were both sixth-round picks, by Carolina and Tennessee, respectively.

After five went in 2022, five more went during a spectacular 2023 NFL Draft from a Tennessee perspective. Tennessee right tackle Darnell Wright went 10th overall to the Bears and sets up 2024 draft pick Caleb Williams for a good future moving forward. Quarterback Hendon Hooker went in the third round, followed by wide receivers Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman within four picks of each other in the third. Then, just three picks after that, outside linebacker Byron Young also went in the third round to the Rams.

The Vols sent three players to the league through the draft this past weekend in Detroit. Running back Jaylen Wright was the first Vol off the board with a fourth-round selection from the Dolphins, while quarterback Joe Milton III and cornerback Kamal Hadden were both sixth-round picks, to New England and Kansas City, respectively.

With five in 2022, five in 2023, and three players in 2024, Tennessee has seen 13 players from the Josh Heupel era enter the NFL in the last three years. Here’s a recap of all of Tennessee’s draft picks as the Vols prepare for their fourth year with Heupel on Rocky Top.

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Here’s a look at the 13 players and the position breakdown over the last three drafts under Josh Heupel:

2022 NFL Draft

  • CB Alontae Taylor – New Orleans Saints – Second Round
  • WR Velus Jones Jr. – Chicago Bears – Third Round
  • DL Matthew Butler – Las Vegas Raiders – Fifth Round
  • OL Cade Mays – Carolina Panthers – Sixth Round
  • S Theo Jackson – Tennessee Titans – Sixth Round


2023 NFL Draft

  • OL Darnell Wright – Chicago Bears – First Round
  • QB Hendon Hooker – Detroit Lions – Third Round
  • WR Jalin Hyatt – New York Giants – Third Round
  • WR Cedric Tillman – Cleveland Browns – Third Round
  • EDGE Byron Young – Los Angeles Rams – Third Round


2024 NFL Draft

  • RB Jaylen Wright – Miami Dolphins – Fourth Round
  • QB Joe Milton III – New England Patriots – Sixth Round
  • DB Kamal Hadden – Kansas City Chiefs – Sixth Round


Heupel Draft Picks By Position (Tennessee)

  • Wide Receiver: 3
  • Quarterback: 2
  • Offensive lineman: 2
  • Cornerback: 2
  • Safety: 1
  • Running Back: 1
  • Defensive Lineman: 1
  • Outside Linebacker: 1

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