The Tennessee football program is clearly on the rise, there is no doubt about that. But proof of just how low the program had fallen could show itself on May 2nd when the 2015 NFL Draft comes to a conclusion. The last time Tennessee did not have a player drafted in the NFL Draft, John F. Kennedy was the President of the United States and the year was 1963! That's an incredible streak of producing NFL talent that may come to a close in 2015. Justin Coleman looks to be the best option for NFL teams in the draft, and so far in the process, Coleman is doing his part to carry the Tennessee torch.
Heading into the combine, Coleman was seen as a fringe prospect that most likely would not be drafted. However, that very well may have changed after the combine. Coleman turned in the fastest clocked three-cone drill at the combine with a ridiculous 6.61 seconds time.
For those unfamiliar with the three-cone drill, here's a video of the drill being performed:
The three-cone drill measures a prospect's quickness, agility, fluidity of movement, stop-and-go speed as well as short burst muscles. Finishing with a top time will obviously force teams to take a second look at Coleman, as these skills translate very well to a NFL secondary and possibly a special teams role.
Coleman finished the 20-yard shuttle run, aka short shuttle, in 3.98 seconds, fifth best for a defensive back at the combine. (Coleman finished with the same time as highly touted Alabama receiver Amari Cooper)
The 20-yard shuttle:
This drill test quickness as well as change of direction speed and ability, also a critical trait for a NFL defensive back.
Coleman finished the 60-yard shuttle run in 11.21 seconds, third best of any defensive back at the combine. (For reference, former Florida standout and 2nd round pick by the St. Louis Rams, Janoris Jenkins ran the 60-yard shuttle in 11.23 seconds)
The 60-yard shuttle:
In addition to those numbers, Coleman benched pressed 225 lbs 20 times and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, recorded a 37.5 inch vertical leap and broad jumped 124 inches. All these numbers combined leave an impression on NFL talent evaluators and mark Coleman as a player who can contribute at the next level.
Hearing Justin Coleman's name at the podium and continuing the streak of Volunteers drafted would be huge for Tennessee and program moving forward. A fact Butch Jones and the coaching staff are well aware:
Being able to sell a consecutive streak of NFL Draft picks like Tennessee's is crucial with the level of players the coaching staff is currently recruiting. The best players want to get to the NFL and UT needs to prove to prospects they can accomplish it, even during lean years.
Let's hope that Tennessee can continue the streak with Coleman in this year's draft, I have a feeling this could be the last year in a very long time that Tennessee questions whether one of their players will be selected in the NFL draft.