published Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Undrafted Tyler Bray, Da'Rick Rogers sign as free agents

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    Tennessee Tech receiver Da'ick Rogers runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis in this Feb. 24, 2013, file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — Two former Tennessee football players were taken in the final four rounds of the NFL draft Saturday.

It's another pair of former Volunteers who went undrafted that will gain most of the attention.

Indianapolis and Oakland took defensive tackle Montori Hughes and tight end Mychal Rivera with fifth- and sixth-round picks, but quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Da'Rick Rogers, who played at Calhoun (Ga.) High School and finished his college career at Tennessee Tech following his dismissal from Tennessee, were undrafted.

Though not one of the 28 receivers taken in the draft, Rogers signed a free-agent deal with the Buffalo Bills, where he'll join Robert Woods, the Southern California receiver with whom Rogers trained for the draft in California.

Projected as a fourth-round pick by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Rogers was All-SEC as a Tennessee sophomore in 2011, but failed drug tests and other disciplinary problems ultimately led to his dismissal. He caught 61 passes for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for Tech.

Bray, who signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, registered the second-best season by a quarterback in Tennessee history as a junior in 2012, but his stock slid probably due to questions about his work ethic and maturity.

Only three quarterbacks were drafted in the first three rounds on Thursday and Friday, but Southern California's Matt Barkley (Philadelphia), Syracuse's Ryan Nassib (New York Giants), Arkansas' Tyler Wilson (Oakland) and Oklahoma's Landry Jones (Pittsburgh) were selected in the first 18 picks of the fourth round.

Four other quarterbacks -- Southern Utah's Brad Sorensen (San Diego), Miami of Ohio's Zac Dysert (Denver), South Florida's B.J. Daniels (San Francisco) and Duke's Sean Renfree (Atlanta) -- went in the seventh round.

For the third time in the past six drafts, 11 quarterbacks were taken, but Bray wasn't one of them.

Rivera, one of Bray's targets, won't go far from his Valencia, Calif., hometown to begin his NFL career. The Oakland Raiders made the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder the 11th tight end taken in the draft. He'll join former Tennessee receiver Denarius Moore with the team whose general manager is former Vols linebacker Reggie McKenzie.

Rivera, who ended up at Tennessee after transferring from Oregon to junior college, surpassed Jason Witten's record for most receiving yards by a Vols tight end during a 562-yard, 36-catch, five-touchdown senior season.

"I was really excited," he said on a conference call with the Oakland media. "Staying in California, that's really a dream come true. I'm just really proud to be a Raider.

"The Raiders have an idea of what they want to do with me. They're going to want to motion me, they're going to want to split me out, similar things I did at Tennessee. I'm really great at catching the ball, and I think what they're going to get me for is my catching ability."

After a two-year detour at UT-Martin, Hughes worked his way into the fifth round with two productive seasons (72 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, five sacks in 22 games) and his performances at the Raycom All-Star Classic, Senior Bowl, NFL combine and Tennessee's pro day.

"He's a height-weight-speed freak," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said of the 6-foot-4, 329-pound Murfreesboro product during the telecast of the draft. "This kid, for the fifth round, has more talent than most fifth-rounders will. It's just a matter of getting it out of him."

According to reports, former Tennessee receiver Zach Rogers signed a free-agent deal with the New York Jets, the New England Patriots scooped up fullback/tight end Ben Bartholomew and defensive back Prentiss Waggner inked with the Arizona Cardinals.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.

about Patrick Brown...

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 ...

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