The NFL draft is coming up this week and will bring a lot of excitement to fans across the country. I have been keeping up with the draft, especially Arkansas players, and how that plays out in the long run.

One trend I continue to notice is the alarming amount of players that bust after being taken very high in the draft.

Everyone is talking about quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Geno Smith, but nobody has even seen them take an NFL snap.

How crazy is it to evaluate who will have a better career before the career has even started? I guess fans are hungry for any kind of intrigue no matter how bizarre it may be.

The NFL is victim to such a short life-span for players, so back off the evaluations of who will have a better career and just hope they have a healthy career.

Players have come under the greatest amount of scrutiny, with every detail of their game being dissected in recent years. Whether this leads to the amount of players who struggle after being taken high in the draft is open for discussion.

Players have so much pressure before they even take their first snap of the offseason drills. The draft has become a primetime event on ESPN, millions of dollars are signed over, all before a rookie’s first NFL game is played.

I know contracts must be signed before they can play, but all the pressure that is put on some guys by the team and fans is absurd.

Special players such as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were talented enough to live up to all the hype that came behind their name.

However, for all the players like that, there are plenty of players like Jamarcus Russell who never lived up to the number one pick expectations thrown his way. The NFL draft is a very risky business.

Not only do many first-round players disappoint “expert” expectations, many late-round players come to be some of the most dominant players in the league.

Bo Jackson, Joe Flacco and even Tom Brady were all players taken late in the draft who flourished in the NFL. Was this due to the lack of pressure associated with top picks?

No one can say they know for sure, but I have a strong feeling that may be part of the problem.

This year Arkansas has a few players with hopes of fulfilling their dreams in the NFL.

Chris Gragg, Knile Davis, Dennis Johnson and Tyler Wilson are a few of these guys. Wilson is mentioned every now and then by draft analysts, but many write him off because of the season Arkansas experienced last year.

These guys being selected a little later in the draft may not be a bad thing. They can learn and develop without having to live up to the skewed expectations of others.

One of these guys definitely has the ability to become one of the draft steals every team hopes to have to counteract the investment that could flop early in the draft.

Zack Wheeler is a writer for the Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Tuesday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.

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