KNOXVILLE — After two long nights of waiting, Luke Stocker didn’t have too much waiting to do Saturday afternoon.
Wide receiver Denarius Moore needed just a little more patience.
The two became the first University of Tennessee players selected in this year’s NFL draft. Both went in the first half of Saturday’s four rounds.
Stocker, a 6-foot-5, 258-pound tight end, was selected with the seventh pick of the fourth round (104th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who swapped fourth-round picks with Philadelphia and gave the Eagles their fourth-round pick in next year’s draft.
“Luke is an in-line, all-around tight end who can really do everything well,” Vols coach Derek Dooley said Friday. “Add to that he’s got really good stature, size and speed, he’s got phenomenal competitive and off-the-field character, and so I think that I’m expecting him to get picked today. It would surprise me if he doesn’t.”
Projected as one of the top three or four tight ends in the draft and a second- or third-round pick, Stocker probably also expected he would hear his name called Friday.
“He’s a captain; he’s got great character; he brings a great complement to what we already have in Kellen Winslow,” Bucs coach Raheem Morris told the team’s website. “This guy will be able to fit right into our offense and was a definite need that we had. He has the ability to make the offense look different.”
Stocker started 38 of his 52 career games at UT and as a senior made 39 catches for 417 yards and two scores.
“We’re going to miss Luke,” Dooley said, “and I think one of the advantages for him, too, is every one of the pro offenses got to see Luke doing everything that they’re going to ask him to do. I think that’s one of the real values of our offense. I think it gives our players a great evaluation for the next level.”
Moore went closer to where most analysts had him tabbed, as the Oakland Raiders took the Texas native with the 17th pick in the fifth round (148th overall).
“I just can’t wait,” Moore said in a phone interview of his impending move to the West Coast. “It’s something different — I haven’t been there before — so I can’t wait to see what it holds for me.”
Moore caught 47 passes for 981 yards (20.9-yard average) and nine touchdowns as a senior, and in a late-season five-game stretch he averaged 131 yards per game, had two games of 200 or more yards receiving and caught a touchdown in each.
That performance earned the 6-foot, 194-pounder an invitation to February’s NFL combine, where he showed off the speed that makes him a deep threat by running his 40-yard sprint in 4.45 seconds.
“He’s fast. His speed, his 40 time and obviously he’s got explosive-play ability, which is important up at that level,” Dooley said. “It’s just going to be what offense and where he fits in. He only had really a five-game stretch with great production, and so there will be questions about why.”
Moore last week that NFL scouts “like the way that I can take the roof off the defense, spread the field, my body control and the way I go up and get the ball.”
After having seven players taken in the first rounds of the previous five drafts, the Vols were shut out of the first round for the first time since 2005 and didn’t have a player selected in the first three rounds for the first time since 2004, when safety Gibril Wilson went first in the fifth round.
“I think both of those guys,” Dooley said, “are very capable and are going to have good careers.”
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...