Tennessee Football: Complete NFL Combine Results for Former Volunteers
The NFL combine was hosted last weekend, and five former Tennessee Volunteers were invited. Here's a quick review of their performances along with the official draft grade each has been given.
Tight end Mychal Rivera, offensive lineman Dallas Thomas, wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson and quarterback Tyler Bray were all invited to the combine, by itself an honor and a signal that scouts believe they're worthy of a draft spot.
Players like Bray and Rivera were looking to move up a couple rounds, while Thomas, Hunter and Patterson were trying to position themselves in the first round.
For the most part, the Vols had a nice showing.
Mychal Rivera ended a strong Tennessee career as one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in school history.
He shattered NFL great Jason Witten's single-season yardage record for a tight end with 562 yards in 2012. He also became just the second Volunteer tight end to eclipse 1,000 career receiving yards.
With the NFL looking for more athletic tight ends, Rivera's college career needed only a strong combine performance to solidify Rivera as one of the draft's top tight ends to watch for.
Rivera delivered a solid performance at the combine. He averaged about 10th out of the 20 tight ends who participated, which I think will be fine for draft stock.
His best event was the 20-yard shuttle, where his time was seventh best at his position. Rivera earned a 53.9 combine grade, termed a "draftable player."
Dallas Thomas demonstrated tremendous leadership and team-first mindset during his five-year Volunteer career.
After starting two years at left tackle, the senior willingly moved to left guard to make room for future first-rounder Antonio Richardson. Thomas anchored a strong offensive line during some of the darkest days for the Tennessee football program.
His versatility, physical tools and leadership caused his draft stock to skyrocket during 2012. It's too bad he tore his labrum during Senior Bowl week because I believe he would've put on a real show for scouts.
Even without a combine appearance, Thomas' draft grade is a very strong 82.7, earning him the "eventual starter" title and a second- or third-round projection.
Justin Hunter came in to 2012 as one of the wide receivers to keep an eye on and didn't disappoint. Just one year removed from an ACL tear, Hunter showed what he can do with a full season.
Hunter ended with 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns during his junior season and a 17.1 yards per catch career average. He is the prototypical field-streching wide receiver with leaping ability.
Entering the NFL combine, Hunter had been projected to go as early as 10th overall and as as late as the second round. This was his chance to guarantee a first-round selection.
Hunter had the highest vertical leap and longest broad jump of any wide receiver. Couple that with a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, and I'd be very surprised to see Hunter fall out of the top 32 first-round picks in April.
His 81.8 draft grade correctly calls him an "eventual starter" but in my opinion, incorrectly projects him to the second round.
Cordarrelle Patterson came in to Tennessee as one of the most talked about JUCO players last summer and electrified the Volunteers with stellar punt returns, awesome end-arounds and numerous cuts and spin moves.
He was fun to watch.
Patterson has the playmaking ability that all pro squads look for on their team. He needs to continue improving his understanding of reads and routes, but that can be taught. You can't teach the X-factor.
Patterson's NFL combine showing was similar to Hunter's. He had the sixth-fastest 40-yard time, sixth-highest vertical jump and was in the mix for all the other events, too.
He earned a draft grade of 90.6, certainly with a lot of influence from his collegiate exploits. This translates to an "immediate starter" title, though that might be a little optimistic. He's definitely a first-rounder, though.
It's worth noting that former Vol Da'Rick Rogers' combine results were comparable to Patterson's and Justin Hunter's in every event. His grade is 74.4.
Tyler Bray was the fifth Volunteer invited to the NFL combine. Everyone knows of his arm and somewhat troubled past, which is why he's being called a potential steal by many scouts.
I'm skeptical but am ready to be proven wrong.
Bray was one of the most successful passers in Tennessee history, becoming just the third quarterback with over 3,000 yards in a season along with countless other passing records involving attempts, touchdowns and yards per game, season and career.
Bray's combine performance was less important than other players because scouts already knew he had a cannon for an arm (strength) and limited mobility (weakness). The interviews will be much more important for him.
Still, Bray had a very nice combine. He ranked around eighth in most events, which was right in the middle of the 16 quarterbacks at the combine, earning a "draftable" 67.8. He'll certainly impress when he throws for scouts later.