One of the first people to ring Justin Hunter’s cellphone with a congratulatory message on Friday night was his old quarterback, Tyler Bray.
Hunter was selected by the Tennessee Titans just moments into the second round on the second day of the NFL draft. Hunter, who was the 34th overall pick and only the second on Friday, won’t have to move very far.
Hunter was only five picks behind teammate and fellow receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who was selected in the first round Thursday night by the Minnesota Vikings.
Vols lineman Dallas Thomas was selected in third round (77th overall) by the Miami Dolphins.
The focus on the final day will turn to Bray, who most believed would be selected in the third or fourth round. The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds are Saturday beginning at noon.
Hunter didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called on Friday, and the drama unfolded much as it did for Patterson one night earlier. Like the Vikings, the Titans traded up with the intention of selecting Hunter.
“I’ve been in Tennessee for the last three years, so it feels like I’m not going anywhere,” Hunter said on a conference call with reporters.
Hunter said many of his UT teammates are from Nashville or are Titans fans, “so I hear about (the Titans) all the time.”
Titans general manager Ruston Webster told media in Nashville that Hunter was on a “different level” than the other players
available in the second round.
“It was not even really close for us,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to get a really talented young receiver with a lot of upside.”
Hunter is the first Titans’ draft pick from UT since Jesse Mahelona in 1996. This year also marks the first time that the Vols have had two receivers selected in the first two rounds since 1983, when Willie Gault and Darryal Wilson were picked.
A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Hunter had a team-high 1,083 receiving yards for the Vols in 2012.
Dallas Thomas preserved his draft stock despite an offseason shoulder injury that prevented him from doing many workouts. A 6-foot-5, 300-pound native of Baton Rouge, La., who played both guard and tackle in college, Thomas started the final 37 games of his college career. He sustained a shoulder injury while practicing for the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
Thomas is the first UT player drafted by the Dolphins since cornerback Jason Allen in 2006.
With the selection of Thomas, Tennessee had players drafted in each of the first three rounds. That’s the seventh time that’s occurred, according to UT. It’s happened before in 2007, 2000, 1999, 1994, 1992 and 1983.
The Vols could continue the streak in the fourth round.
In addition to Bray, former UT player Da’Rick Rogers, who was supposed to be part of the 2012 team before he was suspended for multiple failed drug tests, could be a fourth-rounder.
Only three quarterbacks have been drafted. The third — N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon — threw four interceptions in a season-opening meeting against the Vols last year at the Georgia Dome. Glennon was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round with the 73rd overall pick.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.