The Arkansas Razorbacks have been rather consistent in the number of guys they’ve had selected in the NFL Draft the past few seasons, despite their precipitous fall from the upper echelon of the SEC. Each of the past three seasons the Hogs have had four players picked, though none higher than the third round. Will the 2015 NFL Draft be different? Tough to say right now, but it’ll depend on which, if any, underclassmen declare. Here’s a breakdown of the Hogs top pro prospects for the 2014 season.
It all obviously starts with senior DE Trey Flowers, who has really seen his stock rise since the beginning of last year. Heck, Flowers could’ve left early for the NFL last year, and probably would’ve been the first Razorback picked. Flowers is a do-it-all type end, who has the speed and quickness to pressure the QB, the strength and get-off skills to play the run, and the schematic versatility to play in multiple fronts at the next level.
Despite not having Chris Smith on the opposite side of him, I’d be shocked if he didn’t improve on his already-solid numbers from last year (5 sacks, 8.5 TFLs), considering there should be major improvement along the rest of the DL. His future as a pro? Like I said, he’s scheme-versatile, but I think he’d be best utilized as either a LE or strong side end in a 4-3 in the NFL.
While we’re on the DL, we should also mention two redshirt sophomores who likely won’t leave after this season, but they’ll technically be eligible so they should be discussed. DE Deatrich Wise and DT Darius Philon each have really come a long way since redshirting their true freshman seasons.
Wise is arguably the most physically gifted defensive lineman on the team, and that’s saying an awful lot considering the talent up front for the Hogs. At 6-foot 6, 267-pounds, he’s like a pterodactyl coming off the edge, showing the length and bend to be an elite pass rusher. He’s unbelievably raw at this point but should excel in DC Robb Smith’s new ‘offensive’ defensive scheme.
Philon would be a much bigger name based on his excellent freshman campaign in ’13 if the rest of the Hogs team wasn’t so bad. He’s not gigantic by any means at at 6-foot 3, 283-pounds, but he more than makes up for it with his explosiveness, lateral quickness and hand placement. He’s a 4-3 three-tech in the finest sense: a penetrator who gets up field and collapses the pocket.
In the secondary the top prospects at this point are seniors Alan Turner (S) and Tevin Mitchell (CB). Turner was incredibly productive last year both stopping the run and cleaning up others messes (hence the team leading 97 tackles) and was solid in coverage. Mitchell seems to have been in this secondary for decades, and he’s been a pretty solid contributor. He still hasn’t quite developed into the player his physical skill set says he should be and needs to get stronger against the run and do a better job wrapping up. Still, he has good upside.
Offensively, it’s all about junior RB Jonathan Williams, a stud ball carrier. Despite splitting carries last year, he still nearly topped 1,000 yards while averaging a very impressive 6.0 YPC. He can run inside or outside and is a threat out of the backfield, and the has physicality and minor mileage to be a feature back at the next level if he continues developing at his current rate.