Where will Tennessee football's Trey Smith be picked in 2021 NFL Draft?
The former Vols offensive lineman will find out in the coming days if it worked.
Smith is the presumed top prospect for the Vols in the 2021 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
“You just want your stock to be as high as it can be,” Smith said when he announced his decision to return to UT for the 2020 season. “I just feel like, as a player, I have a lot more things I need to fix in order to get at a higher level and play the game the way I know I can play it.”
Pro Football Focus projects Smith as a third-round selection. Tennessee has not had an outgoing offensive lineman selected in the first three rounds since Ja'Wuan James was picked in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Josh Palmer and cornerback Bryce Thompson also could be selected. UT had three players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Smith signed with Tennessee as a five-star prospect in the 2016 recruiting class. The Jackson, Tennessee, native was a two-time All-SEC selection with the Vols. He started 41 games in his career. He battled blood clots in his lungs twice during his career.
Smith and Palmer both took part in the Senior Bowl.
Pro Football Focus also projects Palmer as a third-round pick. UT hasn't had a wide receiver picked in the top three rounds since Cordarrelle Patterson was a first-rounder and Justin Hunter was a second-round choice in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Palmer was one of Tennessee's top players in 2020, when he caught 33 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns.
Thompson declared for the draft after his junior season in 2020. Pro Football Focus has Thompson as a sixth-round pick.
Thompson played through injuries during his junior season, dealing with a torn pectoral muscle and a hamstring injury. He appeared in all 10 games, logging 36 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He returned an interception for a touchdown during Tennessee's Dec. 12 victory against Vanderbilt.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.