In a mock draft posted on CBSsportsline.com, Rob Range of The Sports Xchange projects that receiver Robert Meachem (pick 16 to Green Bay), defensive tackle Justin Harrell (pick 22 to Dallas) and offensive lineman Arron Sears (pick 31 to Chicago) will be first-round selections when the NFL holds its 2007 talent lottery April 28-29 in New York City.
The Vols previously produced three first-round picks in 1991, 1998 and 2002.
The '91 picks were offensive tackle Charles McRae (pick 7 to Tampa Bay), offensive tackle Antoine Davis (pick 8 to Philadelphia) and wide receiver Alvin Harper (pick 12 to Dallas).
The '98 picks were quarterback Peyton Manning (pick 1 to Indianapolis), cornerback Terry Fair (pick 20 to Detroit) and wide receiver Marcus Nash (pick 30 to Denver).
The '02 picks were defensive tackle John Henderson (pick 9 to Jacksonville), wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (pick 13 to New Orleans) and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (pick 15 to Tennessee).
After the 2002 trifecta, the UT program experienced a first-round drought, going without a single first-round pick in 2003, 2004 and 2005 before safety Jason Allen broke through in 2006.
Many analysts are listing Meachem and Harrell in the first round of their mock drafts. Several more list Meachem and Sears. Range is part of a very small minority projecting all three ex-Vols to go in Round 1.
Here's what Range has to say about Green Bay's selection of Meachem with pick 16, Dallas' selection of Harrell with pick 22 and Chicago's selection of Sears with pick 31:
16. Green Bay Packers
Robert Meachem, WR, Tennessee - The free-agent loss of running back Ahman Green has led to virtually everyone plugging in California running back Marshawn Lynch here. While Lynch would seem to be a good fit, GM Ted Thompson won't reach to fill a need. If the ultra-talented Meachem were to remain on the board here, the Packers would likely go for the player with the higher upside.
22. Dallas Cowboys
Justin Harrell, DT, Tennessee - In fulfilling some of their biggest needs via free agency, the Cowboys enter the draft in position to take the best available player. That player could easily turn out to be Harrell. The Cowboys would like to add some depth behind nose guard Jason Ferguson and want someone to push Marcus Spears at defensive end. Harrell, at 6-5, 300 pounds, has the size and strength to help at both positions.
31. Chicago Bears
Arron Sears, OG, Tennessee - Sears is one of about 15 prospects slotted to go anywhere between 25 and 40. A receiver like Dwayne Jarrett or linebacker like Lawrence Timmons would be flashier picks, but with three of Chicago's offensive linemen 33 or older, the Bears would be wise to add the versatile and dependable Sears here.