Updated with more information at 11:10 p.m. on May 1, 2021
As he made the transition from Notre Dame High School to Tulane University, outside linebacker Patrick Johnson was a two-star prospect, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings, and the nation's 3,022nd-ranked signee in the 2017 class.
Four years later, Johnson will be undertaking another shift after significantly enhancing his value.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles early in the seventh round Saturday afternoon as the NFL draft's 234th overall pick. Johnson played in 49 career games in four seasons with the Green Wave, setting the program's career sacks standard with 24.5.
"Fly Eagles Fly!!" Johnson exclaimed Saturday night via Twitter.
"I got the phone call, and it was an unreal feeling," Johnson said Saturday night on a Zoom call with Eagles reporters. "It's something I've been waiting for ever since I was a little kid. I think I bring a lot to the table, especially as a rusher, and I think Philadelphia fans are really going to love watching me play."
This past season, Johnson's 10 sacks led the nation, and his selection transpired later than ESPN analysts Mel Kiper and Louis Riddick expected.
"He can get off the line, and he's got spin moves," Riddick said on the telecast. "He's got an inside counter and a great closing burst. He needs to be a little taller but has the frame to pack on some weight. I never thought he would be down here in the seventh round.
"Chuck Smith is a former teammate of mine with the Atlanta Falcons, and he has trained this guy. He's told me that this guy is going to be able to rush the passer in the NFL."
Johnson was drafted moments after the Kansas City Chiefs tabbed Tennessee left guard Trey Smith late in the sixth round as the 226th pick. The discovery of blood clots in Smith's lungs altered his sophomore and junior seasons with the Volunteers — he practiced twice all season in 2019, when Tennessee went 8-5 and won the Gator Bowl — but he was pegged as high as a mid-first-round pick by CBS before the start of this past season.
Smith posted "will never forget" Friday night on Twitter after failing to get selected within the first three rounds, but his wait was just beginning.
"He has the leg drive and the heavy hands to be a dominant drive blocker," Kiper said. "He doesn't always play with consistent pad level, and he has to do a better job with hand placement and balance overall when he goes up against these NFL defensive linemen. Trey Smith is a guy you root for with his medical situation, which obviously pushed him down the draft."
Said Smith on a Zoom call with Chiefs reporters: "Certain things happen for a reason. God always has a plan. I'm definitely going to be motivated, but I'm also thankful to the Hunt family and everyone in the Chiefs organization for believing in me."
Smith is the first Tennessee offensive lineman drafted since 2014, when Ja'Wuan James went in the first round to the Miami Dolphins and Zach Fulton went in the sixth round to the Chiefs.
The Vols had just two players drafted, with receiver Josh Palmer going to the Los Angeles Chargers in Friday night's third round. Cornerback Bryce Thompson bypassed his senior season of eligibility but went undrafted, and he is expected to sign instead as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints.
The Southeastern Conference had a record 65 draft selections, topping its 64 from 2019, with Alabama leading the way with 10 and with Georgia setting a program record with nine. Alabama has produced at least nine picks in five consecutive drafts.
Florida had eight draftees, followed by LSU with seven and Kentucky with six.
One Alabama player who wasn't drafted, former five-star linebacker Dylan Moses, is signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent.