The Razorback football team has a handful of former players in the National Football League and had a chance to add more in the NFL Draft from April 27-29. Two Hogs heard their names called in the draft, and four more signed free-agent deals after it.
Arkansas center Frank Ragnow did not have to wait long to hear his name called in the first round. The Detroit Lions selected him No. 20 overall to replace former Arkansas center Travis Swanson, whom the Lions let go in free agency. Ragnow was the first Razorback selected in the first round since running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in 2008. Ragnow was a fast riser in the days leading up to the draft. He was a favorite to be picked by the Bengals at No. 21, Patriots at No. 23 or his hometown Vikings at No. 30 in the first round. Ragnow is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. Ragnow expressed how ready he was to play for the Lions in his post-draft interview.
“I just went 20th overall in the NFL Draft,” Ragnow said. “You know, I’m just a kid living his dream, and I’m just very excited.”
Arkansas running back David Williams was selected the final day of the draft in the seventh round, going at No. 226 to the Denver Broncos. He joins the team’s earlier draft pick Royce Freeman in a competition for carries on a team that is short on experience at the running back position. Bronco General Manager John Elway saw the physicality he was looking for in the running game in Williams, he said in a Tweet.
“David Williams, our final pick in the draft, is a big, bruising running back from Arkansas,” Elway said in Tweet. “He plays with great effort, and we're glad to make him a Denver Bronco.”
Four Arkansas players were signed by teams as undrafted free agents and will get a shot in teams’ training camps. Quarterback Austin Allen and safety Josh Liddell were signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson will join former Hog Darius Philon in Los Angeles with the Chargers, and cornerback Henre’ Toliver will get his chance at a spot with the Indianapolis Colts.
Liddell is ready to tackle mini camp with Allen to try to make the team together.
He said said he’s going to take lessons from college with him in his journey to the NFL.
“It’s a process,” Liddell said. “The best thing you can do is learn. The main thing I’m taking with me from college is learn and get better.”
Jackson was Philon’s teammate for one year at Arkansas in 2014 and is looking forward to learning and competing against him for a spot.
“It’ll be cool playing with a former Razorback, especially at the same position,” Jackson said. “That will be a cool experience.”
Jackson has all the qualities as a person and a player to be productive and popular with his Charger teammates, said Scott Reed, Jackson’s high school coach at El Dorado.
“He’s always been grounded. In all his time in high school, I don’t think he ever missed a weight workout,” Reed said. “When Bielema was recruiting him, I told him ‘I don’t think you can walk down these halls and find anyone who isn’t his friend or has a bad thing to say about him.’”
Ragnow finished as the highest-rated center in college football in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. He did not allow a sack in his career at Arkansas.
Williams spent one year at Arkansas as a graduate transfer from South Carolina. He led the team with 664 yards and eight touchdowns.
Allen threw for almost 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior year. He missed four games with a shoulder injury that he suffered against South Carolina on Oct. 7.
Jackson had 22 tackles and a sack his senior season as more of a run-stopping tackle in the Razorbacks’ lineup.
Henre’ Toliver had 43 tackles and was tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
The former Razorbacks will be entering camp looking to find their place in the NFL and build on the recent success of former Razorbacks Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise, who both play for the New England Patriots.