‘Dores in the Pros: Recapping NFL Draft Weekend

The 2019 NFL Draft Weekend has come to an end and eight Commodores will have their chance to shine at the next level.


Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

The 2019 NFL Draft was one to remember.

After mounting a makeshift stage in downtown Nashville, the NFL basked in the glory of attracting over 600,000 visitors to the spectacle. Fans came from near and far to watch all seven rounds of picks, trades, and music; it seemed only fitting that Dierks Bentley, Moon Taxi, and Tim McGraw performed for the mob in the heart of Music City. The Draft was everything the league could have hoped for.

As for the SEC?

It was even more successful.

The Southeastern Conference set a record with a whopping 64 products selected. In fact, each school in the conference had at least one draftee–with the exception of Tennessee.

Now that NFL teams have had the chance to reassess their rosters, let’s take a look at the nine former Commodores that will take their talents to the biggest stage.


Joejuan Williams, CB: 2nd round, 13th pick (45th overall) — New England Patriots

Williams is tailor-made for a role within Head Coach Bill Belichick’s system. Belichick is known for his ingenious scouting; he always manages to hand pick the best and brightest young talent, whether that means selecting Tom Brady with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, or snagging Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 Draft. As long as they fit his system, Belichick will make sure they find their way to Foxborough.

And Joejuan Williams fits his system.

31-year-old Patrick Chung has done a terrific job serving as a versatile workhorse in Belichick’s secondary. The team captain and three-time Super Bowl champion allegedly works with the safeties, cornerbacks, defensive backs, and special teams every practice. However, with just one year left on his contract, he’ll need a replacement sooner rather than later. Like Chung, Williams’ size can be exploited in a variety of positions, units, and formations. He may be used to pressure wide receivers, play tight ends, or support the rush defense–all in the same game. Expect him to have a large role in his first season with the defending champions.


Justin Skule, OT: 6th round, 1oth pick (183rd overall) — San Francisco 49ers

Skule flew under the radar prior to the draft, as many Vanderbilt fans figured Bruno Reagan was the most likely offensive lineman to hear their name called. However, the 49ers were eager to make their move on the former Commodore. He may not have picked up an invite to the NFL combine, but Skule still managed to impress teams with his measurables, as he’s listed at 6’7″, 317 pounds.

Skule had started at left tackle for 40 consecutive games prior to the draft and did a terrific job of protecting quarterback Kyle Shurmur’s blindside. Skule did not make the switch to left tackle until his junior year; his experience on the right side, much like Williams, can make him a versatile player at the next level.

The 49ers recently parted ways with their backup tackle Garry Gilliam, so Skule will likely compete for the backup job with Shon Coleman.


Louis Vecchio, DE: Undrafted Free Agent — Philadelphia Eagles

Rest assured: if Louis Vecchio doesn’t make an NFL roster, his undergraduate business degree from Penn’s Wharton School, his masters in marketing from the Owen School of Management, and his vast array of work experiences will lead him to success off-the-field.

Fortunately, after three years of playing in the Ivy League, he virtually rebranded himself in the Southeastern Conference. In fact, he made the transition so seamless that he caught the eye of Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, and will now have the chance to crack their opening day roster.

Last season, the Eagles’ defensive front had just one solidified defensive end in Chris Long. Long tallied 15 tackles, six and a half sacks, and two forced fumbles in 2018, but the remainder of their defensive front is not set in stone.

Vecchio will have the opportunity to give it his all in the City of Brotherly Love, where he played for three years at the University of Pennsylvania before finding his way to Nashville.


Dare Odeyingbo, DT: Undrafted Free Agent — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dare Odeyingbo was a fan favorite in his four years at Vanderbilt. As a senior, he was the foundation of the defensive front; not only did he start all thirteen games, often stepping in as pregame captain, but he also managed to finish with an extremely impressive stat sheet. The defensive lineman managed to put up 28 total tackles, a fumble recovery, and even an interception. He truly gave his heart and soul to the program until his last game, where he made his mark with four total tackles (including a tackle for loss) against the Baylor Bears in the Texas Bowl.

The defensive tackle may weigh in at roughly 282 pounds, but his 6’2″ frame is often a detriment to his stock. However, for a player of his size, Odeyingbo has some impressive agility. He found himself getting past offensive linemen quite often in college, whether barreling through them or executing a skillful maneuver.

He will compete for a spot as an undrafted free agent on an extremely impressive defensive front, boasting the likes of Carl Nassib, Jason Pierre-Paul,  and Gerald McCoy to name a few. Hopefully, he can pave a path to the league that his brother, Dayo, will follow in the coming years.


Kyle Shurmur, QB: Undrafted Free Agent — Kansas City Chiefs

Kyle Shumur’s impact at Vanderbilt is impossible to summarize in such a short blurb. Shurmur, the son of Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur, improved in each of his four years in Nashville. In his senior campaign, he held a 62% completion rate en route to racking up 3,130 yards in the air and 24 touchdowns. This performance was strong enough to make Shurmur the Commodores leading passer in just about every possible category.

Shurmur certainly won’t compete for a starting job in Kansas City, as Patrick Mahomes seems to have that role locked down for the foreseeable future. However, the former Commodore could make an impact as a backup or third stringer due to his immense football IQ and experience playing against the best in the country.

According to the Hall of Fame quarterback and fellow undrafted free agent Kurt Warner, there’s always a need for such intelligence in your backup quarterbacks: “Anybody that can be like a coach at any position, but specifically at the quarterback position… I think there’s always a place for a smart guy in that room…I think that’s something that’s going to help him because he’s been around so much of that most of his life.”


Bruno Reagan, C: Undrafted Free Agent — Kansas City Chiefs

Reagan filled a variety of needs for the Vanderbilt Commodores in 2018, as he began the season dominating the right guard spot, before moving over to center for the final eight games of the season. He played more than 98% of the team’s offensive snaps, while putting up 14 pancake blocks and 26 domination blocks–numbers high enough to propel the Commodore offense to average 411 total yards per game. This average is as high as any Commodore offense since the mid-1970’s, and Reagan is to be thanked for his contributions.

The most intriguing part of his undrafted free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs is that he will be reunited with his quarterback. Once again, Reagan will have the opportunity to snap the ball to Kyle Shurmur; only this time, far from the Music City. At 6’3″, 317 pounds, Reagan has the frame of a rather mobile offensive lineman, allowing him to shift if need be. If he blocks as well as he did in college and Shurmur turns the openings into as stellar of a performance as he did in Nashville, the two could be looking at roster openings on one of the best teams in the nation.


Khari Blasingame, RB: Undrafted Free Agent — Minnesota Vikings

Khari Blasingame may have spent years running alongside Ralph Webb and Ke’Shawn Vaughn, but NFL scouts still recognized his talent.

“Could battle for a RB3 or RB4 spot thanks to his size, traits and ability to play a few, specialized roles,” said NFL.com’s draft profile. “Blasingame’s vision and lack of running instincts are likely the reason for his limited tote total at Vanderbilt, but his short yardage power, third-down potential and ability to cover on special teams might add up to enough value to land a practice squad or back-end of the roster spot early on.”

A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Blasingame was a part of a successful running back by committee for the majority of the season. He is known around the SEC for both his abilities to catch the defense off-guard, and for his incredible work in the classroom. Blasingame was named to the first-year SEC Academic Honor Roll as a freshman, followed by three straight SEC Academic Honor Roll Distinctions. In fact, fans might know him best for his appearances on many Vanderbilt commercials and billboards. With the exception of Dalvin Cook, Minnesota has hardly figured out who will make it past the final round of cuts. Blasingame’s ability to serve as both a three-down back and a pass catcher out of the backfield could propel him into one of those openings.


Sam Dobbs, TE: Undrafted Free Agent — Atlanta Falcons

Many expected Jared Pinkney to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft and make headlines with an early selection, but he decided to return to Vanderbilt for his senior year. Sam Dobbs, who served as the tight end alongside Pinkney, has finished his fourth and final year at Vanderbilt. Now, he has received the opportunity to return home.

Home for Dobbs is in Georgia, where he grew up a Falcons fan. He will compete for a roster spot on that very team he grew up rooting for; he will compete for a roster spot on one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL.

“I can’t think of a way for this kid [Dobbs] to fail,” said offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. “I really can’t. He’s going to be successful, no doubt about that. He’s ultra-talented in so many things, has a diverse set of interests, and such a great passion about each one.”

Dobbs, much like Shurmur, can boast the football IQ that many players cannot. he was born and bred in a football family, as his father, John Dobbs, played football at Auburn University. Perhaps that can help propel Dobbs into the tight end conversation alongside Austin Hooper.