Tag Archives: NFL draft

Charles Davis says he wasn’t surprised by Antonio Richardson’s NFL draft slide (video)


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Former Tennessee player and current television analyst Charles Davis was one of the first to raise concerns about the health of Vol lineman Antonio “Tiny” Richardson back in February.

But after Richardson was not drafted last month and signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings, Davis said he took no pleasure in being right.

“I saw that coming early in the process,” Davis said during a visit to Knoxville for a benefit honoring the memory of former Vol Harry Galbreath. “We saw him in the Combine, and I think it was my big mouth that said, ‘Something doesn’t look right…He doesn’t look totally healthy.’ A lot of buzz got created out of that, and I felt badly, because I wasn’t trying to denigrate the kid. He just didn’t look right.

“I followed up on it and I actually had three or four teams tell me, ‘He’s not clear on our board medically.’ So I knew there was something going on. So it didn’t surprise me when he slipped. He’s got to get healthy. When he does, we’ll see that talent come out.”

In more positive draft news, Vols lineman Ja’Wuan James was selected in the first round by the Miami Dolphins. Davis said he believes James impressed teams with his character and work ethic, which helped him move up draft boards.

“Ja’Wuan James I figured would go before Tiny. But I don’t think anyone saw him in the first round. That was a major surprise, but I’m very happy for him,” Davis said. “He was rising as we went on. He went from being considered a third, fourth round guy to a solid second round guy going into the draft. The Dolphins had a heavy need, really liked his character. After the troubles they’ve had, he’s the perfect antidote to that.”

49 SEC players were drafted by NFL teams this month, but 4 teams didn’t take any

Ja’Wuan James was one of 49 SEC players drafted (AP photo, J. Pat Carter)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — My radio colleague Vince Ferrara has written up a comprehensive rundown on the 49 SEC players drafted by NFL teams and where they fit on their new clubs.

He tackles everyone from Jadeveon Clowney, No. 1, to Michael Sam, the 49th pick from the SEC and the 249th overall.

Here’s another interesting tidbit: The Houston Texans took five SEC players, including Clowney, and the St. Louis Rams drafted four, including Sam. Seattle, Miami, Cincinnati and Kansas City had three each.

Four teams — Dallas, San Diego, Minnesota and the N.Y. Jets — didn’t have any.

Read the complete breakdown here.

Undrafted James Stone fighting for spot on Falcons (updates on Vols competing for NFL spots)

James Stone (photo by KNS photographer Michael Patrick)

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeAntonio “Tiny” Richardson‘s NFL draft snub got most of the attention earlier this month, but there was another Tennessee offensive lineman who wasn’t selected.

Center James Stone signed a free-agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons after the draft. Like most free agents, his path to a roster spot is uncertain, but Stone has a handful of factors working in his favor. He’s smart, he’s versatile and he has well-respected people vouching for him.

“In one year’s time with him, I was just really impressed with how smart of a player he is,” Vols offensive line coach Don Mahoney told ESPN. “And you have to look at his value to play two positions [center and guard]. I know that’s a big deal, with how many players they carry on a roster. And again, because of him mentally being able to be such a smart player, I think there’s just a tremendous upside to him.” 

Although more than a dozen Vols either worked out or signed free-agent deals after the draft, the NFL is so competitive that very few of them are likely to be rosters by the time the season starts. For many of the players in the group, getting a practice squad job would be beating the odds. Will Stone fare differently? We’ll find out.

Here are some updates on the rest of the Vols selected in the NFL draft or signed afterwards:

Currently on official NFL rosters…

Ja’Wuan James, selected in first round (19th overall) by Miami Dolphins…likely to open season as starter.

Zach Fulton, selected in sixth round (193rd overall) by Kansas City Chiefs….signed 4-year contract.

Daniel McCullers, selected in sixth round (215th overall) by Pittsburgh Steelers…signed 4-year contract.

Richardson….free-agent signee with Minnesota Vikings

Stone…free-agent signee with Atlanta Falcons

Dontavis Sapp…free-agent signee with Dallas Cowboys.

Rajion Neal…free-agent signee with Green Bay Packers

Jacques Smith…free-agent signee with Atlanta Falcons

Alex Bullard….free-agent signee with Detroit Lions

Others…

Michael Palardy…attended New York Jets minicamp.

Mo Couch….attended Dallas Cowboys minicamp

J.R. Carr….attended Washington Redskins minicamp

Corey Miller…attended Kansas City Chiefs minicamp

Ja’Wuan James says Miami Dolphins’ pick fulfilled his wish

Ja’Wuan James at Tennessee’s pro day this spring (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Miami Dolphins officials said several times on Friday that they had “targeted” Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James for a long time.

The feeling was apparently mutual.

James said after his visit to Miami for a pre-draft interview, he knew he wanted to play for the Dolphins and he was overjoyed when the team selected him in the first round on Thursday.

“God definitely blessed me,” James said during a press conference in Miami. “He heard my prayers and answered them…I wanted to be a part of this team.”

James said he felt comfortable with the coaches, executives and players on the Dolphins — including former teammate Dallas Thomas, who he called one of his best friends.

James sidestepped questions about the Dolphins’ locker room drama from a year ago, when offensive lineman Richie Incognito was suspended for allegedly bullying teammate Jonathan Martin.

“That’s last year,” James said. “I’m comfortable with this environment.”

James said he based that on his “interaction with everyone on the coaching staff and everyone in the organization. Talking to some of the guys on the team, I just felt it was the right atmosphere.”

James also shrugged off a tweet from new teammate Mike Pouncey that seemed to make light of last year’s bullying scandal.

“It’s all part of the process of being a rookie,” James said.

James was a leader at Tennessee and one of the most media-friendly players at the team. He won his first press conference at Miami by displaying a similar charisma.

Asked if he expected to be a starter on opening day, he had a reply ready.

“I don’t expect anything,” he said. “I expect to come in and work hard. That’s how I was raised my whole life. You’ve got to earn what you’re given.”

Peyton Manning, the 1998 NFL draft and the ‘science’ of picking a winner (video)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — With the benefit of 16 years of hindsight, it’s easy to forget the debate in 1998 about whether Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf would be the first overall pick in the NFL draft.

Peyton Manning (AP photo)

The Indianapolis Colts wisely chose Manning, who became perhaps the greatest quarterback in the history of the game.  Leaf struggled with injuries and other issues in his four-year career and is generally regarded as the one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

The New York Times revisited that decision in the 12-minute video embedded above. It’s worth watching.

Here’s some video from Manning’s visit to Knoxville last summer.

Some say injury worries could hurt Antonio Richardson’s NFL draft standing

Antonio “Tiny” Richardson warms up during his final week of practice last December (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — What does the future hold for former Tennessee offensive lineman Antonio “Tiny” Richardson?

After his appearance at the NFL Combine, which officially wraps up on Tuesday, that answer is not entirely clearly.

Richardson was expected to be a late first round or early second round choice, according to many projections, but his combine performance was panned by some for being too slow.

That raises another question: His health.

Richardson underwent knee surgery after the 2012 season and at least one reporter — former Tennessee player Charles Davis — has suggested that his knee remains an issue. Davis even suggested that Richardson might have to “redshirt” his freshman season in the NFL.

Obviously, teams don’t draft first round players to “redshirt” them. NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah even labeled Richardson as a “fifth-round pick.”

This is all unwelcome news for Richardson, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Monday.

But he can take heart in knowing that misinformation and disinformation is at a premium in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft.

Separating fact from opinion and truth from fiction can be hard to do.

What about the rest of the Vols? Daniel Lewis ran down all their measurements from the Combine. Vols defensive tackle Daniel McCullers will add his numbers to the list on Monday.