Editor's note: Story has been updated with information saying Tyler Bray will sign a free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, not the Miami Dolphins.
Eleven quarterbacks were selected in this weekend NFL’s draft, including four in the final minutes of Saturday’s seven-hour television marathon.
When the last pick was called, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was still without a team.
Bray, who passed up his senior year of eligibility to turn pro, will have to make a team as a free agent. So will former UT receiver Da’Rick Rogers. Both players were projected to go in the middle rounds, but both were apparently hurt by questions about their maturity and preparedness for the NFL.
Late Saturday night, ESPN’s Field Yates, citing a league source, reported that Bray would sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Shortly after the draft ended, Rogers agreed to a free-agent deal with the Buffalo Bills, according to the Star-Ledger. Later, Rogers tweeted “I’m a Buffalo Bill.”
While the draft was a crushing disappointment for Bray, the news was better for UT tight end Mychal Rivera, who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth round with the 184th overall pick.
A native of Valencia, Calif., Rivera began his college career at Oregon before transferring to a junior college and then to Tennessee. He caught 36 passes for 562 yards in a strong senior season for the Vols in 2012.
His sister Naya is a noted actress who plays Santana Lopez on the television musical comedy “Glee.” She tweeted out a photo Saturday that showed Rivera posing with four police officers. She said they had been called on a noise complaint because the family celebration was so loud when Rivera was picked.
Rivera was the first UT player drafted Saturday, joining receivers Cordarrelle Patterson (first round, Minnesota Vikings), Justin Hunter (second round, Tennessee Titans) and Dallas Thomas (third round, Miami Dolphins).
Former UT defensive tackle Montori Hughes, who completed his career at UT Martin, was picked in the fifth round (139th overall) by the Indianapolis Colts.
“It’s a blessing,” Hughes told the Daily News Journal. “As a kid, you dream about the opportunity to play in the NFL. To be able to live that dream is a blessing.”
A 6-foot-4, 329-pound native of Murfreesboro, Hughes played as a reserve during his freshman season in 2009. He missed the season finale of 2010 due to a rules violation and was eventually dismissed from the team before the 2011 season.
But Hughes reached his potential at UT Martin. He had 31 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, four sacks and 13 quarterback hurries as a senior with the Skyhawks in 2012. Hughes worked out for NFL teams at Tennessee’s pro day in Knoxville last month.
“This kid has more talent than fifth-rounders have,” said NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock. “It’s just a matter of getting it out.”
The Colts may have gotten a late steal with Hughes, but many expected teams to pursue Bray and Rogers for the same reason.
Rogers was kicked off the team at UT just before the 2012 season. He finished his career at Tennessee Tech.
Bray had minor off-the-field issues at Tennessee and was sometimes criticized for his demeanor and body language on the field. But with a strong arm and tall frame, most thought he could overcome those issues. His failure to get picked could indicate that pre-draft interviews with NFL teams didn’t go well.
For Rivera, being picked by the Raiders gives him an opportunity to play for his home-state team. It also links him with a front office filled with former Vols.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is a Knoxville native and Austin-East High School graduate who played football at Tennessee during the 1980s. McKenzie hired veteran NFL scouting director Joey Clinkscales to be his director of player personnel in Oakland. Clinkscales was a teammate of McKenzie’s at UT and was captain of the Vols’ 1986 team. McKenzie’s twin brother Raleigh is a Raiders college scout.
Free-Agency: UT fullback Ben Bartholomew (New England Patriots), receiver Zach Rogers (New York Jets) and defensive back Prentiss Waggner (Arizona Cardinals) agreed to free-agent contracts or camp invitations, according to online reports late Saturday night. Linebacker Herman Lathers, defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore and defensive back Rod Wilks are among other Vols who will purse a camp invitation with an NFL team.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him on Twitter.