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3 Tennessee Volunteers Selected on Day 3 of NFL Draft


Josh Heupel
© Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Three of coach Josh Heupel’s 2023 Tennessee Volunteers were selected on day three of the NFL Draft. Running back Jaylen Wright, quarterback Joe Milton III and defensive back Kamal Hadden heard their names called to join NFL squads.


Jaylen Wright
© Hannah Mattix/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jaylen Wright

 An All-Southeastern Conference running back, Wright was the first Vol to come off the board, going to the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round, No. 120 overall. The speedy Wright will fit in well with Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel’s offensive scheme. Wright was the leading rusher for Tennessee the last two seasons and finished his college career with 2,297 yards and 18 touchdowns. In 2023 Wright surpassed the 1,000-yard mark by rushing for 1,013 yards. The remarkable thing about this total is that it came on only 137 carries, an average of 7.39 yards per carry.

Joe Milton III

Former Volunteer and current New England Patriots coach Jerod Mayo, personally placed the call to Milton to let him know the Patriots were selecting the strong-armed quarterback with the No. 193 overall pick. After starting his career with the Michigan Wolverines, Milton transferred to Tennessee in Heupel’s first season in 2021.

Milton won the starting job but was injured in the third game of the season and Hendon Hooker took over as the starter for the remainder of the season and all of 2022. Milton started all 12 games in 2023 and finished the season completing 64.7 percent of his passes for 2,813 yards with 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Milton also rushed for 299 yards and 7 touchdowns. Milton is most known for his absolute cannon of an arm. He has thrown a football an incredible 90 yards. He will need to work on his touch if he is going to succeed in the NFL.

Kamal Hadden
© Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kamal Hadden

 The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs selected Kamal Hadden in the sixth round, No. 211 overall. While Hadden’s 2023 season was cut short due to a shoulder injury, he still led the Vols with 3 interceptions and 8 pass breakups. Hadden received a 90.4 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus for his work in 2023. This ranked him as the second-highest SEC cornerback and fifth in the country. The 6-foot-1 cornerback finished his Tennessee career with 87 tackles, 6 interceptions, one pick-six, 2 forced fumbles and 12 pass breakups.


Heupel's Vols in the NFL Draft

 With the three picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, Heupel’s total number of drafted Vols is now at 13. A number of the undrafted Vols are expected to sign undrafted free agent contracts with NFL teams over the next few days.

The 2025 NFL Draft should add to Heupel’s number of picks, especially if EDGE James Pearce Jr. chooses to enter the draft. Pearce is projected to be a top-5 pick, which will be the second first rounder for Heupel as tackle Darnell Wright was selected No. 10 overall by the Chicago Bears in 2023. The Volunteers are trending upward and one of the biggest recruiting tools is sending players to the NFL. Heupel and his staff are proving they have what it takes to get players to the league.


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