Razorbacks with a Chance in the Draft
Although Arkansas’ season did not go as expected, several players had standout seasons. A few of these players will likely have the opportunity to be drafted by an NFL team next April and several will probably have a chance to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.
Wilson raised some eyebrows when he announced that he would return for his senior season after an impressive junior season. He was projected to be drafted in the first round after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but he decided to come back to Arkansas and try to win a National Championship and the Heisman Trophy.
However, early in the season Wilson dropped off the radar for the Heisman after he was knocked out of the ULM game with a concussion and missed the Alabama game. His statistics also took a slight hit this season. Wilson passed for 3,387 yards and completed 62.1 percent of his passes, down from 3,638 and 63.2 last year.
He threw over twice as many interceptions, 13, as he did last year, six. Despite these factors, I do not believe Wilson will slip that far in the draft. He has shown a lot of toughness by standing in the pocket and delivering perfect passes, while knowing he is going to be hit. He could have just called it a season after the Alabama game and focused on staying healthy for the draft, but he didn’t. NFL coaches and general managers value these characteristics in a quarterback, so I expect Wilson to be drafted as high as late in the first round, but definitely no later than the second round.
For three years, Hamilton had to wait his turn behind three future NFL wide receivers: Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright. He finally got the opportunity to be the No. 1 target his senior season, and he made the most of it.
Named as one of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, he hauled in a UA single-season record 90 passes. Against Rutgers, he shattered the UA and Southeastern Conference single-game record by gaining 303 yards through the air. His 1,335 receiving yards are the fifth most by an FBS receiver this season.
Hamilton has certainly caught the eye of NFL scouts and I expect him to be drafted around the same time Adams, Childs and Wright were picked last year, either the third or fourth round.
Like Wilson, Davis came into the season with Heisman hopes, but quickly realized that wouldn’t happen. Davis rushed for 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010; however, he missed the entire 2011 season with an injury.
With him healthy this season, Razorback fans expected him to return to his 2010 form. Instead, he struggled with fumbles early in the season and finished the season with only 377 yards.
Only a junior, Davis has one year of eligibility left. He has not announced whether he is coming back next year or not, but if he declares for the draft, I don’t expect him to be picked. I think he should come back and participate in a full-contact spring and fall practice, which he didn’t last year. If he gets these early reps, he will get in a groove early and put up bigger numbers during the season, greatly improving his draft stock.
Possible Late Round Picks
Running back Dennis Johnson and punter Dylan Breeding have had solid careers as Razorbacks. Johnson is the all-time kickoff return yards leader for the SEC and carried the load at running back when Davis struggled this season. He gained 757 yards on 137 carries, for an average of 5.5 yards per rush. Breeding averaged 45.6 yards per punt this season, which ranks ninth in the FBS. He also pinned 18 punts inside the 20-yard line.
If Johnson or Breeding get drafted, it will be very late in the draft. Johnson showed glimpses of greatness, but he never had the opportunity to be the featured back. Breeding is definitely one of the best punters in the nation, but very few punters get drafted. I expect them both to at least get a free agent contract if they are not drafted.
Tight end Chris Gragg is in a similar position. He had a good season, but he only played in five games. His leg injury has been a recurring problem and I think it will scare some teams away from him. I expect him to be picked up late in the draft or most likely signed as an undrafted free agent.
Undrafted Free Agents
A few members of Arkansas’ defense will likely have the chance to try out with an NFL team as undrafted free agents. I believe linebacker Alonzo Highsmith and defensive tackle DeQuinta Jones will have the best opportunities to try out and make an NFL roster.