The 2013 draft is lacking in the top-notch skill-position talent of recent years but don't blame the University of Tennessee.
In junior quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Zach Rogers and tight end Mychal Rivera, the Vols featured arguably the most gifted set of skill-position prospects in the country last season.
The fact that the team finished 5-7 (including 1-7 in the SEC) is why Derek Dooley is now serving as the Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers coach and not still the head coach in Knoxville.
Based on tape, scouts know the Vols were talented. They had one final opportunity to witness the Tennessee standouts together Wednesday during the school's Pro Day.
The 6-foot-6 (3/8), 229-pound Bray stood on his numbers from the combine but threw the ball Wednesday. According to a league source on hand for the workout, Bray was "good, not great" during the throwing session, firing in passes to all levels of the field and demonstrating the arm talent that has earned comparisons to anyone to former SEC star Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt).
Patterson, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated receiver, also elected to largely stick with his numbers from Indianapolis. The 6-2 (5/8), 217-pound receiver has explosive top-end speed and unbelievable agility but remains largely inconsistent as a route-runner and, according to the source, dropped a few passes Wednesday. He did compete in the shuttle drills, with unofficial times of 7.19-seconds in the three-cone and 11.72-seconds in the 60-yard shuttle.
Hunter measured in a shade under 6-4, 200 pounds. He had a 7.20-second three-cone time and elected to compete in the vertical jump Wednesday despite posting an impressive 39.5" effort in Indianapolis. The explosive Hunter, who was characterized as having the flexibility and springs of "Gumby" by the league source, led all Vols with a 40.5" effort Wednesday. He also improved in the broad jump (11'4" at the combine) with an 11'6" effort in Knoxville.
Zach Rogers, who was not invited to the combine, helped his chances at getting drafted by clocking in the low 4.5s in the 40-yard dash and beating his more highly touted former teammates in both the short shuttle (4.40) and three-cone drills (6.76). Rogers, 6-0, 182, also caught the ball well, according to the source.
Rivera matched the 31-inch vertical Wednesday that he'd previously had at the combine.
Perhaps the most surprising turn of events was the fact that former Tennessee wideout Da'Rick Rogers was also allowed to participate in the workout. Rogers was kicked off the team prior to the start of the season after repeated violations of the team's conduct policy. He wound up transferring to Tennessee Tech, where he caught 61 passes for 893 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns despite frequently being double-teamed.
Like his former teammates, Rogers did few of the timed drills after enjoying a standout performance at the combine. He did, however, compete in the vertical jump (38.5") and performed well during positional drills.
The source commented that between Bray, Patterson, Hunter and (Da'Rick) Rogers, there could be four former Volunteers who wind up being selected within the first two rounds. No other team in the country is expected to challenge that mark this year.
- Versatile offensive lineman Dallas Thomas was unable to perform in any of the drills Wednesday as he continues to recover from the torn labrum he suffered during practices at the Senior Bowl. Thomas underwent surgery on Feb. 7 and is expected to miss the next 4-5 months, which could significantly impact his draft stock.
- Among the NFL decision-makers on hand were Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert (each of whom reportedly dined with Bray on Tuesday night), as well as Oakland Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie, New York Jets' general manager John Idzik and St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead, among others.