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Kiper talks Vols' draft stock

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper said today that he believes Tennessee junior wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson could be a mid-round NFL draft selection.

Tennessee junior receiver and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson

If he stays for his senior year, Kiper said, Patterson could go in the top five overall picks.

I'm not an agent or a financial adviser, but that doesn't seem like much of a choice. My free advice to Patterson is to start getting ready for April's draft.

None of Tennessee's juniors have publicly announced their NFL draft intentions, although Patterson and fellow receiver Justin Hunter are expected to depart. Quarterback Tyler Bray and offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James will also have a decision to make.

Seniors tight end Mychal and offensive lineman Dallas Thomas could be among the others with NFL interest.

Here are some more thoughts from Kiper on today's teleconference...

On WR Cordarrelle Patterson

He's still not where he needs to be from route running and being the complete receiver ready for the NFL. Is he NFL-ready? Physically, he is. He still needs to work on some things. You take him, you coach him up, and you figure you're getting a guy that, if he goes back to Tennessee, could be a top-five pick. I have him at 11 right now. With another year, if Tyler Bray goes back, he puts up the numbers, new coaching situation at Tennessee, he could be a top-five guy. If he comes out, he's maybe more of a mid-first - maybe a little earlier than that, because this draft is not that strong at the top. He's got to weigh some things there."

On WR Justin Hunter

UT junior quarterback Tyler Bray

"Hunter, is only a year removed from the ACL from last year. I thought he's a guy who needed another year to get back from that. This year he was good. He wasn't spectacular. But he's an athlete, he obviously can be a vertical stretch guy. I think he needs to get a little stronger, put some weight on that frame. He's been in the top 25 at times this year. Right now he looks like more of a second-round pick. I think he's the kind of guy you look at.

On the linemen

"In terms of (Ja'Wuan) James and Dallas Thomas - he'd be a guy to look at, because he's a senior - he can play guard, can play left tackle. The Senior Bowl will be important for him. He could end up being in that third-round discussion very easily. I'd like to see McCullers go back, I'd like to see James go back. I think both of those guys would benefit from another year."

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