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Tennessee Athletics photo / Former Tennessee cornerback Alontae Taylor was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 49th overall pick during Friday night's second round of the NFL draft.

Funny how a phone call can turn a resident of Manchester, Tennessee, into a resident of New Orleans.

Such was the case Friday night for former Coffee County and University of Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor, who was snagged in the second round of the NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints as the 49th overall selection. Taylor should see plenty of familiar faces in the Big Easy, with the current Saints roster already containing five former Volunteers: running back Alvin Kamara, receiver Marquez Callaway, tight end Ethan Wolf, defensive lineman Shy Tuttle and cornerback Bryce Thompson.

"I know a lot about the party things in New Orleans, but I also understand it has a lot of things to offer," Taylor said in a conference call with New Orleans media members. "I'm looking forward to interacting with New Orleans and getting out into the community and being a community guy."

The 6-foot, 199-pound cornerback racked up 60 tackles, six pass breakups, two interceptions and a forced fumble as a Tennessee senior before opting out of the Music City Bowl to focus on his draft prospects and ultimately winning over the Saints.

"They've just said that they loved how I played and felt like from my IQ and understanding of the game that I can play in any part of the backfield, whether that's corner or nickel or even safety," Taylor said. "I feel like more of a corner, but whatever the Saints need me to do, I'm going to come in and do that."

Tennessee had a second player drafted during Friday's third round, when the Chicago Bears selected receiver and return specialist Velus Jones Jr. Hailed for his versatility, the 6-foot, 204-pound Jones was the nation's only player last season to amass 800 receiving yards, 600 kickoff return yards and 200 punt return yards.

His 15.1-yard average on punt returns led the Southeastern Conference, while his 27.3-yard clip on kickoff returns ranked second. Taylor and Jones each received Senior Bowl and NFL combine invites, with Jones running the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds in Indianapolis.

"A lot of people were expecting me to run a high 4.4, and I even heard a 4.5," Jones said in late March. "I knew all along what I could run, but I didn't think I was going to run a 4.31. I tapped into another level there."

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Auburn photo by Todd Van Emst / Former Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary talks with the Tennessee Titans before they selected him as the 35th overall pick during the early stages of Friday night's second round of the NFL draft.

The second round opened with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Houston defensive end Logan Hall with the No. 33 pick and the Green Bay Packers taking North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson with the No. 34 selection. The Tennessee Titans were next at No. 35 and grabbed Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary.

McCreary, the fifth overall corner selected, said on a conference call with Nashville media that the opposition he faced while with the Tigers has him ready for this opportunity.

"The SEC is the best conference to prepare you for the next level, and that's why I felt like I was one of the best corners in this draft," McCreary said. "I've played against the best, from (Alabama's) Henry Ruggs to (LSU's) Ja'Marr Chase to (Alabama's) DeVonta Smith to (Arkansas') Treylon Burks. Having that under my belt is why my confidence is so high."

The Atlanta Falcons used the 38th overall selection on Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie.

Alabama produced two second-round selections, with receiver John Metchie III going 44th to the Houston Texans and defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis going 47th to the Washington Commanders. Georgia also had two second-round picks, with receiver George Pickens going 52nd to the Pittsburgh Steelers and running back James Cook going 63rd to the Buffalo Bills.

No quarterbacks were selected in the second round after only one — Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett — went on Thursday's opening night. Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder became the second quarterback taken, going 74th overall to the Falcons.

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, who was pegged by most analysts as a top-15 pick, wound up going 86th to the Titans.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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