Morning folks. Happy tax day! As you solemnly observe our national celebration of desperate eyes and sweat-dampened spreadsheets, spare a thought for the true heroes: in a scant 9 days time, professional football GMs from across the nation will gather to hold the 82nd NFL draft, with even damper spreadsheets and desperate-ier eyes (note: these things are not actually alike). The Vols are expected to place as many as 5 players in the first four rounds of the draft this year, with Derek Barnnett, Alvin Kamara, Josh Malone, Cam Sutton, and Josh Dobbs all tipped as selections.
Dobbs, it should be noted, has been (probably rather wisely!) on something of a hype campaign recently: in addition to a slew of national-media interviews, he held what was by all accounts a very impressive pro day last month, and has made multiple team visits. Here’s a full 22 minutes of him talking to Gruden:
... and it all appears to have been effective, at least amongst the hivemind of NFL “insiders” and NFL front office detritus who do draft projections. EPSN’s Mel Kiper now sees Dobbs as a 2nd or 3rd rounder and NFL.com’s Move the Sticks is comparing him to Dak Prescott.
Spring Practice This & That, Week
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Rising SO S Nigel Warrior appears to be making good on his recruiting hype, as he’s been one of the standouts so far in the spring session.
The “we’re moving towards using more three linebacker base sets on defense” theory we’ve outlined in the past (from here on out, the “WMTUM3LBBSODT”, for clarity) is largely confirmed, looks like. Talking to 247, linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen said the Vols are focusing on improvement in non-nickel, 3-LB sets, and is looking towards Austin Smith, Colton Jumper, or Quart’e Sapp to nail down that SAM role.
Much-heralded 5* FR OT Trey Smith has had, uh, quite the couple weeks? He’s been dominating the “Circle of Life” drill (IT’S CALLED THE OKLAHOMA DRILL CAN WE PLEASE STOP THIS), he’s lost his helmet stripe, and he has kindly reassured the people of campus: “Just a friendly public service announcement I will not eat you, I will not harm you, I just want to say hi.” Allllllssssooo: there’s now a video floating around which purportedly shows him punching the absolute heck out of fellow Under Armour All American game participant Tony Gray in December (Gray is now with Ole Miss). At the time of this writing (very early Tuesday), we can’t at all confirm the video- it’s literally an iPhone video of an iPhone video posted to Reddit, you guys- so take this all with a grain of salt, but if it is real, expect to hear a lot more about it.
Butch Jones had some rave reviews about RB John Kelly last week:
“John is more vocal than he’s ever been, and he’s coaching the younger players. He’s demanding. It gets backs to details, accountability and toughness, and John has done a good job with accountability and his voice is well respected. He brings a lot of energy. … He brings it from everyone around him, including Jauan Jennings.”
Kahlil McKenzie has a kitten. It is excellent.