It’s no secret that Tennessee football has spawned tons of overlooked talent in the NFL in recent years. Just look at the New Orleans Saints. The No. 1 recipient, Marquez Callaway, was an undiscovered former Vols, and Alvin Kamara, their five-year Pro Bowl rusher, fell to the third round. The starting defensive lineman Shy Tuttle was also not drafted.
This weekend’s series of conference championships is also solely made up of overlooked UT players. The San Francisco 49ers enter the NFC Championship game with their starting cornerback and No. 2 receiver of the Vols, Jauan Jennings and Emmanuel Moseley, respectively. Jennings was taken out in the seventh round. Moseley went unwritten.
On the other hand, a beloved Tennessee football player who fell in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft became a regular watch starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. Trey Smith has overcome all worries about injuries and has now made the professional NFL team of America’s professional soccer writers.
The PFWA selected Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons as the 2021 Rookie and Defensive Rookie of the Year; Cincinnati WR Ja’Marr Chase named Offensive Rookie of the Year. Full All-Rookie Awards: pic.twitter.com/B2Qx44F91L
— Professional football writers (@PFWAwriters) January 25, 2022
With this award, it’s time to start talking about Smith possibly being on track to become the biggest NFL Draft stealing in UT history. That’s a tall order, because in recent years, superstars like Arian Foster have been unwritten, and in the distant past, Reggie White was drafted into the Supplemental Draft in 1984.
However, White chose to play in the USFL and would have been a very good choice had he actually participated in the actual NFL Draft. Foster, meanwhile, didn’t get going until 2010. He didn’t earn an All-Rookie in the 2009 season.
That’s what sets Smith apart from many of these other players. None of the former Vols who fell in the later rounds of the draft, and by later rounds we mean sixth round, seventh round or an unsigned free agent, earned All-Rookie their freshman year.
Only one Tennessee soccer player who was drafted later than Smith ever made a Pro Bowl. Scott Wells went to the Green Bay Packers on the seventh round. Late is designated by pick number, not pick round, because the NFL has changed that over the years with expansion.
Still, like Jennings in 2020, Wells was in the practice squad or injured reserve his rookie year. Neither could impress so early. Smith, on the other hand, fell to Pick No. 226 and started every game for Kansas City this year.
Anyone who saw Smith play in college while completely healthy is not shocked. All three full seasons that he actually played, he earned All-SEC. The only concern he ever had was his injury due to the blood clots in his lungs, but all signs point to him working out a solid medical plan.
As a result, in the sixth round, a five-star talent that appears to have a lot of durability may have been stolen. If things go according to plan this first year, Smith could easily become the biggest theft ever in the NFL to come from Tennessee football.