Five Vols go on Day 1

Five Vols go on Day 1

Five former Tennessee Vols – defensive tackle Justin Harrell, wide receiver Robert Meachem, guard Arron Sears, defensive lineman Turk McBride and cornerback Jonathan Wade - were selected on Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

Jonathan Wade was chosen by the St. Louis Rams with the 20th selection in Round 3 - the 84th pick overall. The 5-11, 195-pounder from Shreveport, La., led the SEC with 17 pass breakups in 2006, then raised his draft stock by running the 40 in 4.36 and turning in a 40-inch vertical jump in working out for pro scouts.

Turk McBride was the 22nd selection in Round 2 – the 54th pick overall – going to the Kansas City Chiefs. The 6-4, 280-pound Camden, New Jersey native finished fourth among all Vols in tackles last fall with 68. He recorded 8.5 tackles for loss, including one sack. He also registered 11 quarterback hurries.

Arron Sears was the third selection of Round 2 – the 35th pick overall – being taken by the Tampa Bay Bucs. After noting that the ex-Vol can play both guard spots and both tackle spots, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said that "Sears' versatility will be very advantageous to Tampa Bay."

Sears, a native of Russellville, Ala., started 37 games during his college career, including all 13 last fall at left tackle. Because of his size (6-4, 320 pounds), he is projected to play guard in the pros.

Harrell was selected by the Green Bay Packers with pick No. 16 in Round 1. Meachem was taken by the New Orleans Saints with pick 27.

Harrell, a 6-4, 302-pounder from Martin, tore the bicep in his left arm in Game 2 vs. Air Force last fall but suited up and started the following Saturday against Florida. He underwent surgery shortly thereafter and missed the final 10 games of his senior season. In the three games he played Harrell recorded 3 tackles and 4 assists, with 1 tackle for loss and 1 quarterback hurry.

The Packers obviously put considerable stock in Harrell's junior year, when he was tabbed second-team All-SEC. In 11 games that fall he recorded 21 tackles, 18 assists and 7.5 tackles for loss (including 2.5 sacks). He batted down five passes, forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes, returning one seven yards for a touchdown.

Kiper called Harrell "a 300-pounder with great athleticism," adding: "Where would he have gone had he been healthy all year? Probably in the top 10."

Meachem, a 6-2, 212-pounder from Tulsa, set a UT record with 1,298 receiving yards as a junior last fall. He joins a Saints team that recently lost receiver Joe Horn in free agency. Still, New Orleans has two high-profile weapons – 2005 Heisman winner Reggie Bush and Marques Colston, a seventh-round pick in 2006 who led all NFL rookies in receptions last season.

Kiper called Meachem "a guy that plays well in the big games" and noted that, thanks to Erik Ainge's improvement at quarterback last fall, Meachem "emerged as a big-time player and certainly a prospect a lot of teams from the middle of the first round on have had their eye on."

Harrell and Meachem were among 11 SEC players chosen in Round 1.

LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell went No. 1 to Oakland. Tiger safety LaRon Landry went No. 6 to Washington. Defensive end Jamaal Anderson of Arkansas went No. 8 to Atlanta. Linebacker Patrick Willis of Ole Miss was tabbed by San Francisco with pick No. 11. Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss was taken by Denver with No. 17, one pick behind Harrell. Florida safety Reggie Nelson was selected by Jacksonville with pick 21. LSU receiver Dwayne Bowe was taken by Kansas City with pick 23. Auburn guard Ben Grubbs went to Baltimore with pick 29 and LSU wideout Craig Davis to San Diego with pick 30.

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