The 2016 NFL Draft is officially finished, and several former Razorbacks heard their names called during the three-day event.
Tight end Hunter Henry was the first Hog to be drafted, and he was followed by Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins, Sebastian Tretola and Brandon Allen.
Henry, who most scouts considered the most NFL-ready tight end in this year’s draft class, was not selected in the first round. The Little Rock native did not have to wait very long to be picked on the second day, however, as the San Diego Chargers jumped at the chance to grab Henry and took him with their second-round pick. Henry was the No. 35 player chosen overall.
In San Diego, Henry will have a chance to play alongside one of the most highly-regarded tight ends in NFL history, Antonio Gates. While Gates is still considered one of the most consistent tight ends in the league, the veteran is almost 36 years old. This means Henry will have the chance to grow before taking the reigns as the Chargers’ starting tight end.
Williams had to wait until day three to hear his name called. The Buffalo Bills added Williams to their roster when they selected him with the No. 17 pick of the fifth round. While Williams was considered the No. 1 running back in Arkansas’ backfield during his junior season, many Razorback fans were surprised to see him be selected before Collins, who took over for Williams after the tailback went down with an injury before last season.
Collins was still a part of the draft process, however, as he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round with the No. 171 overall pick. In mock drafts, Collins had shot all the way up to the third round as scouts marveled at the running back’s vision and elusiveness. As the draft progressed, Collins continued to fall, but the Seahawks could benefit from the Florida native’s talents.
During the offseason, the Seahawks’ star running back Marshawn Lynch decided to retire and left Seattle with a need at the running back position. Thomas Rawls, an undrafted free agent who signed with the team before last season, is widely considered one of the best up-and-coming tailbacks in the league after having a breakout season, so odds are he will be named starter. Collins has a chance to earn some early reps due to the lack of quality running backs on Seattle’s roster.
Tretola was the only Razorback lineman taken in the draft when the Tennessee Titans picked him up in in the sixth round with the No. 193 overall selection. The guard, who many Razorback fans remember for throwing a touchdown pass in his junior season, also fell further than many experts predicted him to. Tretola was congratulated on Twitter by his former position coach, Sam Pittman, after he was selected.
“So happy for Sebastian Tretola. He has earned the right to play in the NFL. Tennessee Titans will be happy they have him. #proud,” Pittman tweeted.
The final Razorback selected in the draft was quarterback Brandon Allen, who was taken with late in the sixth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Allen, who many experts predict will compete for the Jaguars’ backup quarterback position, will join a rotation that includes starter Blake Bortles and backup Chad Henne. Allen was also the final Southeastern Conference quarterback to be taken in the draft.
Once the draft festivities were completed, three other Razorbacks signed free agent deals with teams. Defensive end Mitch Loewen signed with the New Orleans Saints, safety Rohan Gaines signed with the Los Angeles Rams and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland signed with the Oakland Raiders.