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Byron Young lands in first round of Mel Kiper’s first mock draft

The first we’ve seen of Young in the first round.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Mock draft season is officially in full swing, and a handful of Tennessee Volunteers have a shot to go in the first round. We’ve seen both Jalin Hyatt and Darnell Wright land in some first round projections, and now we’ve got another — edge rusher Byron Young.

Young spent two seasons with Tennessee after coming from the junior college ranks. He was one of the best stories in all of college football, after leaving his job at Dollar General to try out for the Georgia Military College football team. He revamped his football career there, catching the eye of Jeremy Pruitt.

Young stuck with Tennessee through the coaching change, and quickly became an impact player coming off of the edge. He was a guy that had the look of an NFL edge rusher upon arrival, and now he’s set to turn pro this spring.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. mocked Young to land with the Seattle Seahawks with the 20th overall pick.

Young, another prospect who will be at the Senior Bowl, is intriguing. At 6-3, 245 pounds, he fits the mold of what Carroll wants from a front-seven defender, and he has some pass-rush upside. He had seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in 2022, showing off advanced moves. The Seahawks knocked their 2022 class out of the park, and a home run in 2023 could set them up for another long run of success.

In this scenario, Young would land with former Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor, who had a breakout year this season with 9.5 sacks.

Young put up 5.5 sacks in 2021, then had a seven sack season in 2022. He capped off his Tennessee career with a two sack performance against Clemson, putting out some really nice tape to take some momentum into the draft process. Young’s next step will be attending Senior Bowl week in Mobile, where he will go through daily drills and practices while interviewing with teams.

To this point, Young has been projected as a day two pick. However, a strong draft season performance certainly could see him sneak into the first round, considering how valuable pass rushers are in today’s NFL.