With the recent circus that Tennessee football has been this fall, it may be a relief for some fans to peek into the early careers of some NFL Vols. Six players from Tennessee’s football team were drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The contributions have varied among the six draftees. Let’s take a look at how each rookie’s season is going after ten weeks in the NFL.
With the 14th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the first Vol was selected as the Philadelphia Eagles chose defensive end Derek Barnett. Barnett was a record-setting defensive monster at Tennessee and was more than worthy to be selected this high in the draft.
So far, Barnett has seen a considerable amount of playing time with the Eagles. He has racked up 14 combined tackles so far as well as adding on two and a half sacks (NFL.com). Barnett wrapped up Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for his first career sack during a primetime game in Carolina.
Shot 9 – Similar result later, watch Chris Long & Hamilton force Cam to tuck this ball, collapse the pocket and get Barnett the sack. pic.twitter.com/NHgdKAjGwv
— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 13, 2017
Barnett has also contributed to Philadelphia’s special teams unit this year. He blocked a field goal against the San Francisco 49ers.
— Garry Cobb (@GarryCobb) October 29, 2017
Derek’s rookie year seems to be faring well so far as the Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 8-1.
One could argue Alvin Kamara was the most popular Vol to the Tennessee fan base out of this class, and he has certainly been someone Tennessee is proud to call alumni with his performance in the NFL so far.
Kamara was taken in the third round of the 2017 draft by the New Orleans Saints. Initially, not many people could have imagined Kamara contributing to the Saints and be such a dynamic piece to the offense. He was brought into a running back stable featuring Mark Ingram and veteran Adrian Peterson.
However, Kamara let his play do the talking early and often. Kamara’s first touchdown of his career came in week three versus the Carolina Panthers, and he never looked back. He would have a great game the following week against the Miami Dolphins in London with 10 receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Kamara’s explosive playmaking ability factored into the Peterson trade to the Arizona Cardinals. With Peterson out of the picture, Kamara would now have an even bigger role on the offensive side of the ball.
On the season, Kamara has 417 rushing yards with four touchdowns and 42 receptions with two touchdowns. (NFL.com) Here is Alvin’s most notable touchdown versus the Buccaneers where he showcases his nifty ability to make defenders miss.
Kamara with another nice TD pic.twitter.com/JcawbQgc2a
— VolBlood (@VolBlood) November 5, 2017
The Saints are also having a great season with a 7-2 record leading the NFC South.
Cameron Sutton and Josh Dobbs
Two Vols were taken by the same team in the 2017 NFL Draft in Cam Sutton and Josh Dobbs. Both were selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sutton was taken in the third-round while Dobbs was chosen in the fourth. Neither Sutton nor Dobbs have made much of a contribution to the Steelers in the regular season yet, but the future seems bright for both. Sutton was in the race for starting cornerback until he aggravated his hamstring in a preseason game, causing him to be placed on Injured Reserve for the 2017 season.
Dobbs is the third-string quarterback for Pittsburgh, sitting behind veteran Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones. Dobbs saw plenty of action in the preseason and exuded flashes of his talent to be a potential starting quarterback in the NFL one day. In the Steelers’ preseason finale, Josh scored a game-winning rushing touchdown to seal a Steelers victory. With Roethlisberger on the back end of his career, as well as his susceptibility to injuries, Dobbs could be thrown in as a starter sooner than later. Sutton could also see playing time next year if he is able to return healthy.
Another Vols defensive player selected in the 2017 class was Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Reeves-Maybin was taken by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the draft. Jalen was a standout linebacker at Tennessee and was able to turn his talents into a valuable skill-set the Detroit Lions desired on their team. While Reeves-Maybin is not starting at linebacker for Detroit, he is seeing playing time and helping in whatever way he can.
In the regular season, Reeves-Maybin has 14 total tackles for the Lions (NFL.com). The Lions will look for Jalen to contribute long-term for them as a defensive unit. Here is a clip of Jalen making an impressive tackle on former teammate and Saints running back Alvin Kamara.
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 19, 2017
Wide receiver Josh Malone was taken in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals. Malone was a fantastic receiver for Tennessee and a favorite target of Vol alum Josh Dobbs. Malone is seemingly becoming a weapon the Bengals will be able to use this year and in the future. Malone is currently listed as the number three receiver on Cincinnati’s depth chart ahead of their speedy first-round pick John Ross. Malone has one touchdown this year versus the Indianapolis Colts which can be seen below.
Dalton cant have any air in this pocket, OL still blocking bad. Throws it up to rookie Josh Malone, first career TD. pic.twitter.com/KLX9VvwvLV
— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) October 29, 2017
Malone could prove to be valuable for the Bengals in the future as he is young with a long career ahead of him. So far, Malone has three receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown with the Bengals (NFL.com).
Stats referenced at NFL.com
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