The NFL Draft weekend is nearly upon us. For Tennessee fans, the focus will likely begin on Friday night. The Volunteers won’t have any first round selections this year, but they won’t be shut out like last season either. Darrell Taylor should get the ball rolling on Friday night, with Jauan Jennings potentially coming off the board not too far behind.
With the draft nearly here, Clint Eiland and I provide our best guesses on where each prospect will land.
DE/OLB Darrell Taylor
Clint: Round 3, Top-80
Taylor’s best football is ahead of him. Injuries prevented Taylor from turning into the dominant pass rusher he could’ve been, but he still managed to become of the SEC’s best EDGE players. I think his ceiling is too much for a team to pass up in the first few rounds.
Terry: Late Round 2
I’m guessing that Taylor comes off the board sometime during the midway point of Friday night, just sneaking into the second round. While the consistency wasn’t there, Taylor certainly has the tools. Landing in the right spot to be able to develop the right habits going forward is a big key here. He’s one that’s sort of left us wanting more, hopefully he finds that at the next level.
WR Jauan Jennings
Clint: Round 6, Top-200
I’m going to take the pessimistic outlook and say that Jenning’s lack of elite measurables scares some teams off from using a higher draft pick on him. No matter how hard a worker they are, and no matter how much production in college they have, some players can’t get over the athletic barrier in the league. Personally, I think he’ll have a long and productive NFL career.
Terry: Round 5
This is a tough one to figure out. Anyone that pops on the tape knows Jennings is probably worth a day two selection, but you also can’t totally ignore the athletic testing. Jennings is what he is — a tough customer who loves the game and will carry the fight on every snap. That’s worth something. Jennings is going to make some team extremely happy on the final day of the draft.
LB Daniel Bituli
Clint: Round 6, Top-200
Good size, great toughness, and quality production. Those three factors alone will give any linebacker a shot at getting drafted. Bituli isn’t an elite athlete and he’s not necessarily “special” in any one category. But he’s got a high floor and does his role well. As a side note, after the 5th round it becomes a lot harder to guess draft position. A lot of teams use the final two rounds to take on projects or grab prospects only their scout team has discussed.
Terry: Round 7, Top-250
Bituli was the rock of the Tennessee defense over the last couple of seasons. Notice how things started to turn around once he came back to the lineup after missing the first couple of games. As Clint said though, nothing about him is particularly elite, making his projection murky for this weekend. I do think he put enough out there on tape for a team to spend a pick on him late on Saturday, however.
S Nigel Warrior
Clint: Round 7, Top-250
In contrast to my pessimistic outlook for Jennings, I’ll go ahead and say that Nigel Warrior hears his name called. He put enough on tape in 2019 for some team to take the flyer at the end of the draft and bring him in as a project. He’s got a major boom-or-bust factor to his development.
Warrior went from one of the most frustrating players on the roster to one of the most important, seemingly in one offseason. It was clear that he bought into Pruitt’s system during his senior year, turning a big corner. He’s done enough to earn a shot in camp, but it’s tough for me to project much more.
WR Marquez Callaway
I actually like Callaway to stick around in the league and potentially work his way into a starting role. It just so happens that he is in the deepest wide receiver class in years. Any other draft and I’d guess he’s a 5th or 6th round pick. In this behemoth? Probably not. He will likely be a priority free agent however.
Maybe this is more of a product of the ridiculously loaded receiver position in this year’s class, but Callaway just hasn’t gotten any traction this draft season. But it’s not like his toolbox is empty. He’s got 4.5 speed and an elite ability to go up and get the football. He’ll offer you something in the return game as well. It just seems like he’s going to get lost at sea with a stacked receiver group around him.
TE Dominick Wood-Anderson
Wood-Anderson simply hasn’t done enough to show why he deserves to be drafted. He’s got some skills that will translate to the next level (hands, size) but he has a lot more working against him. His best shot will be in free agency.
DWA’s time at Tennessee wasn’t anything special. He was a band-aid starter for a couple of seasons, but just isn’t athletic enough to make an impact at the NFL level.