Two Vols in top 21 draft picks?

Two Vols in top 21 draft picks?

If columnist Derek Harper of foxsports.com is correct, the names of two Tennessee players will be called relatively early in the National Football League Draft, scheduled April 28-29 in New York.

Harper projects that Vol receiver Robert Meachem will be claimed by the San Francisco 49ers with pick 11 and that defensive tackle Justin Harrell will be pegged by the Denver Broncos with pick 21.

The Vols have not produced multiple first-round picks since 2002, when the trio of John Henderson (pick 9), Donte Stallworth (pick 13) and Albert Haynesworth (pick 15) were all Round 1 selections.

Many 2007 draft projections have Meachem going toward the back end of Round 1 (picks 15 to 25) with Harrell going very late in Round 1 or early in Round 2 (picks 30-40).

Regardless, here's what Harper has to say about Meachem:

"Antonio Bryant is gone, replaced by another enigma in Ashley Lelie. QB Alex Smith needs more weapons to provide a balanced offense, and Meachem fits the bill. He has great hands and his workouts prove he has the potential to emerge as a No. 1 wideout."

Meanwhile, here are Harper's comments on Harrell:

"This is a bit early for a guy who missed all but three games of his senior season with a torn left bicep, but the Broncos don't have many holes to fill and can afford to take a risk on a player with a high ceiling. With the Dan Wilkinson trade cancelled after he chose not to report to the team, the Broncos remain very thin on the interior."

Harper's enthusiasm for ex-Vols apparently is not shared by foxsports.com cohort Peter Shrager. In his three-round mock draft, he predicts Meachem will last until the Kansas City Chiefs take their turn at pick 23. Here's what Shrager has to say about Meachem:

"K.C. would be best suited to take the highest ranked wideout on their board at 23. That Samie Parker/Eddie Kennison combo hasn't exactly panned out over the past few seasons. Even though Robert Meachem is a projected top 10 pick on most other mock drafts, he may not be taken as soon as other draftniks are expecting. If Troy Williamson, Matt   Jones, Chad Jackson, and Reggie Williams have shown us anything — it's that a good performance at the combine isn't the end-all, be-all in determining the value of a wideout. That said, if he's sitting there at 23 — K.C. would be wise to scoop Meachem up and feature him as one of their two starting receivers on opening day."

Schrager projects Harrell will be selected by the Chicago Bears in Round 2 (pick 37) with former Vol guard Arron Sears going to the 49ers in Round 2 (Pick 42).

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