The 2013 NFL Draft kicks off tonight, and the Vanderbilt Commodores will have a handful of players who could end up hearing their names called by the time the week is done. The 'Dores won't lose too many seniors from 2012's record-setting 9-4 campaign, but offensive stalwarts like Zac Stacy and Jordan Rodgers will look to make a name for themselves on Sundays this fall. Defensive players Trey Wilson and Rob Lohr will also try to work their way onto a NFL roster as their time in Nashville comes to a close.
Unfortunately, Vandy fans might not have much to track on Thursday. NFL analysts don't have any of the Commodores even sniffing first round status. Friday's action, which covers rounds two and three, will likely go without a mention of James Franklin's players as well. It won't be until Saturday's late-round coverage that bargain-hunting teams will kick the tires on Stacy, Rodgers, and Wilson.
So who will the lucky teams be that land the building blocks behind Vanderbilt's offensive renaissance? Let's take a look into the future and see what we've got.
Zac Stacy, RB (Scouts, Inc Mock Draft: Round 6, Pick 36 to the Kansas City Chiefs): Scouts has Vanderbilt's all-time rushing leader headed to the midwest, where he'd back up stud tailback Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs would be a good fit for Stacy - he'd get some time to acclimate to the professional game after just two seasons as Vandy's featured back, and he'd have the opportunity to earn playing time behind a runner who is durable but also entering his seventh year in the league. However, there are plenty of other good fits for Stacy in the sixth round as well. Teams like Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Seattle are all picking around that time, assuming Stacy goes that low.
The prediction: Fifth round, 25th pick to the Seattle Seahawks.
Jordan Rodgers, QB (Scouts, Inc: Round 7, Pick 25 to the Seattle Seahawks): Without Matt Flynn to carry Russell Wilson's clipboard, the 'Hawks are in need of a backup passer, and Rodgers could fill that void as a developmental player. Rodgers improved throughout his time in Nashville and grew to become one of the school's best passers. He cut down on the mistakes that haunted the early parts of his career at Dudley Field, and he's still blossoming as a quarterback. While it seems unlikely that he'll ever be a reliable starter, he could have a nice career as a fill-in player who provides a stable presence on the sideline and in case of injuries.
The prediction: Seventh round, 38th pick to the Atlanta Falcons.
Trey Wilson, CB (Scouts, Inc: Undrafted): Wilson didn't earn the accolades that teammate Casey Hayward did over his four years at Vanderbilt, but the physical cornerback should continue the Commodore tradition of making an impact in NFL secondaries. He's a high-octane player who can create scoring opportunities after turnovers and add a versatile presence to nickel and dime packages at the next level. While underrated, he should have a very good chance to work his way onto a pro roster even if he doesn't hear his name get called this weekend.
The prediction: Seventh round, 46th pick to the San Francisco 49ers.
Rob Lohr, DT (Scouts, Inc: Undrafted): RoLo was a strong inside presence on the Vandy defensive line, showing off a good burst upfield and the ability to tackle runners and quarterbacks in the backfield. He's a bit undersized at 290 pounds, but the All-SEC run-stopper has the strength and experience (38 straight starts) to find a spot on someone's 53-man roster. Lohr probably won't get drafted, but his status as the anchor for a Vandy line that grew into one of this team's strengths suggests that he'll get plenty of looks once the draft is over.
The prediction: Undrafted. Signed as a free agent.
Archibald Barnes, LB (Scouts, Inc: Undrafted): The man with the most Vanderbilt name on the roster will leave Nashville after growing into the player that coaches hoped he could become. Barnes stepped into Tristan Strong's starting role and helped turn a depleted linebacking corps into one of the SEC's better units. Unfortunately, his measurables fell short at Vandy's pro day, and the former Army brat notched a 4.96 40 and mustered just 11 reps on the 225-pound bench press (reportedly as many as punter Richard Kent). That served to confirm some scouts suspicions that he wasn't athletic enough to play at the next level, but Barnes is smart and coachable enough to earn a role on someone's practice squad for 2013.
The prediction: Undrafted. Signed as a free agent.
Ryan Seymour, OL (Scouts, Inc: Undrafted): Seymour was one of Herb Hand's rocks on the offensive line, a steady presence who played well at guard but was versatile enough to handle different positions in the trenches. He's stronger when clearing paths for a running back than he is when protecting a quarterback, but his combination of agility (5.09 40yd) and strength (30 reps at 225 lbs) should make him a decent late round pick or free agent flyer. Seymour has been under the radar, so it's tough to gauge if anyone has him on their radar for a seventh round choice. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him on a NFL roster this fall.
Richard Kent, P (Scouts, Inc: Undrafted): Kent was the best Vanderbilt punter to never earn a Music City Bowl MVP award. His odds of making it to the NFL are a long shot, but he's got a strong leg and is a solid athlete who works hard.
The prediction: Undrafted.
What do you think, VandyNation? Let us know in the comments below.