Vol linemen trio taken in NFL Draft
by UT Sports Information
May 11, 2014 | 456 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

NEW YORK — Two more Tennessee Vols went in the sixth round of the NFL Draft Saturday, joining offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James, who became the 45th Tennessee player selected in the first round as he was picked by the Miami Dolphins with the 19th overall selection on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.

Fellow offensive lineman Zach Fulton went to the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round, while defensive lineman Daniel McCullers was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tennessee now has 337 all-time selections in the NFL Draft, most of any SEC program. The Vols have produced 27 first-round selections dating to 1989, sixth-most of any program.

James is the first Tennessee offensive lineman selected in the first round since current Vol For Life Program Coordinator Antone Davis was picked eighth overall in the 1991 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. James is just the sixth Vols offensive lineman selected in the first round all-time.

James is the 12th player from Tennessee drafted by the Dolphins and the fourth offensive lineman, after Thomas last year, Harry Galbreath in 1988 and John Boynton in 1968. The last Vol picked in the first round by the Dolphins was defensive back Jason Allen in 2006.

"I'm a tough, smart offensive lineman," James said when asked about his strengths as an offensive lineman. "I pride myself on being smart and not making many mistakes. I bring athleticism to the table and a lot of experience, too, being able to play that many games at the position in the conference I did."

Miami Dolphins General Manager is thrilled to welcome James. "We're excited about the skill set that he brings. He brings in what the Dolphins are all about. We're really excited to have him a part of our organization."

James started all 49 games of his college career, all at right tackle, including all 12 in his senior season of 2013. With 49 starts, the Suwanee, Ga., native set the record for career starts by an offensive lineman in Tennessee history, passing Jeff Smith (48). His 49 games played, stands second to former teammate and 2013 Senior Bowl invitee Dallas Thomas (50) for most games played on the offensive line at Tennessee.

He participated in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis after playing in the 2014 Reese's Senior Bowl.

The 6-6, 318-pound James was an All-SEC second-team selection by the Associated Press in 2013. He was also a member of the preseason Outland Trophy Watch List. James earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Dec. 2 following his college finale at Kentucky, when he set the school record for consecutive start by a Vols offensive lineman. As a senior, James helped the Vols to 2,261 rushing yards in 2013, the most by UT since 2004. With James as a anchor, the Vols' offensive line allowed just 23 sacks over the last two years, including just eight in 2012, the fourth fewest in the NCAA at 0.67 per game. Tennessee had five games of more than 500 yards of total offense in 2012.

Fulton was selected the 193rd overall selection. "I'm very excited to be a Chief," Fulton told KCChiefs.com. "I'd say my toughness is my biggest strength."

Fulton will be the fourth Vol on the Kansas City Chiefs' roster, joining safety Eric Berry, punter Dustin Colquitt and quarterback Tyler Bray.

Fulton is the ninth Tennessee product drafted by the Chiefs all-time, joining Berry -- the most recent pick in 2010 -- and the likes Dale Carter in 1992, Jeff Smith in 1996 and Dustin Colquitt in 2005. Smith, a center, is the only other Vol offensive lineman selected by Kansas City.

Fulton played in the 2014 East West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He started all 12 games at right guard in 2013 and started 40 of his final 43 career games at the position.

A native of Homewood, Ill., Fulton was a part of the Vols offensive line that blocked for 2,261 yards this season, the most for Tennessee since 2004 and the second-most since 1999.

Over the course of the season, the Vols offensive line helped UT to five 200-yard rushing games and a 1,000-yard rusher in Rajion Neal, the first 1,000 yard rusher since Poole in 2010.

With Fulton joining the Chiefs, the squad now has two offensive linemen coached by Vols head coach Butch Jones and offensive line coach Don Mahoney, as they most mentored 2013 No. 1 overall selection Eric Fisher at Central Michigan.

McCullers is headed to the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 215th overall selection. He is the first defensive lineman selected from Tennessee since Malik Jackson was picked in the fifth round of the 2012 draft by the Denver Broncos.

He is the 17th Tennessee product drafted by the Steelers and the first since offensive lineman Chris Scott in 2010. The first Vol ever taken by Pittsburgh was UT's only three-time All-American Bob Suffridge in 1941.

The massive McCullers, who stands 6-7, 352, posted 72 tackles in his two seasons with the Vols after transferring in from Georgia Military College. McCullers was named to the preseason watch lists for the Outland, Bednarik and Nagurski Trophies in 2013. He was also a 2013 preseason All-SEC second-team selection.

McCullers played in the 2014 Reese's Senior Bowl and participated in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

As a senior, McCullers made 33 tackles including 4.5 tackles for a loss in starting all 12 games at nose tackle. McCullers was second on the team quarterback hurries with four and blocked one kick -- the second block of his career. He had six tackles including a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss in the Vols' upset win over South Carolina.

A native of Raleigh, N.C., McCullers played his first two college seasons at Georgia Military College and made 64 total tackles.