Four former Arkansas Razorbacks and two former Arkansas State players were invited to Indianapolis for the NFL combine Feb. 22-28 in 2012. Of the six former college football players with Arkansas ties that attended the combine five were drafted by the conclusion of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis (Brandon, Miss), 6’2”, 235 pounds (4.61 40-yard dash), was the first player with Arkansas state ties to be selected.
Davis, a two-time All-Sun Belt Conference performer during his junior and senior seasons, was the 14th pick in the third round, 77th overall, by the New York Jets.
Over the last six NFL Drafts at least one Red Wolves’ player has been selected; linebacker Oren O’Neal 2007 Oakland Raiders, defensive back Tyrell Johnson 2008 Minnesota Vikings, tight end David Johnson 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive end Alex Carrington 2010 Buffalo Bills, and offensive tackle Derek Newton Houston Texans in 2011.
With the 27th pick in the third round, 90th overall, former Arkansas Razorback defensive end Jake Bequette was selected by the New England Patriots.
Bequette, 6’5”, 274 pounds, joined former Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett on the Patriots squad. Mallett was also a round three pick (74th overall) by Pats’ head coach Bill Belichick.
During Bequette’s Press Conference after his draft selection he confirmed that the Pats had showed early interest in him starting with the Senior Bowl through the combine.
The New England staff also traveled to Fayetteville for a private workout with the All-SEC performer. During the workout the coaches evaluated Bequette’s ability to rush the passer in a three point stance and his spot zone pass coverage skills.
2011 All-American punt returner Joe Adams was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round, 104th overall. Carolina liked Adams’ ability to play the slot and outside receiver positions coupled with his return skills in punt and kickoff situations.
During the 2011 college football season Adams had 54 catches for 652 yards with three touchdowns. He also returned four punts for touchdowns and had one rushing score.
Adams’, 5’11”, 179 pounds, saw his draft status drop after he posted slower forty times than expected at the combine and Arkansas Pro Day – 4.5.
All-SEC wide receiver Jarius Wright was the 118th overall pick in the forth round of the draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Wright, 5’10”, 182 pounds, led the SEC in total receiving yards (1,117) and touchdown receptions (12) during the 2011 college football season.
Wright posted a 4.42 forty-yard dash time during the combine. With frequent injuries to current Vikings receiver and punt returner Percy Harvin, Minnesota used Wright’s speed and quickness in the second half of the season seeing a bright future for the former Hog.
Minnesota drafted another Arkansas player in the fourth round; 16 picks after Wright’s name was called, Greg Childs joined him as a fourth round pick of the Vikings. For the second year in a row the Vikings drafted an Arkansas Razorback player; OL Demarcus Love.
Childs 6’3”, 219 pounds, was thought to be one of the steals in the 2012 NFL Draft. During the 2010 season Childs had a season ending knee injury against Vanderbilt. In an effort to graduate and finish his playing career with the class that was recruited with him in 2008, in his own words, Childs returned to college football action too soon.
Childs under performed in 2011 finishing with 21 receptions for 240 total receiving yards with no touchdowns as he tried to rehab and recover from his injury while playing a full SEC schedule.
In 2009 and 2010 Childs’ play on the field was leading up to the explosive year Wright had for the Hogs in 2011.
Childs’ sophomore campaign ended with 48 catches for 897 yards including seven touchdowns. His junior season was cut short after eight games with five more to play; Childs posted 46 catches, 659 yards receiving, and six touchdowns.
Even through the 2012 NFL combine Childs was improving his strength and speed as he continued to recover from his injury. Childs increased his forty-yard scout combine run of 4.55 to 4.41 in front of NFL scouts during Arkansas’ Pro Day.
Greg Childs has the rare size, speed, and pass catching prowess that NFL teams covet and legitimate All-Pro players possess. Childs had the unfortunate luck of tearing his other ACL in the Vikings’ preseason before seeing action in a regular season game. If he returns to his 2010 pre-injury form, Mr. Childs could turn out to be the best of the 2012 Razorback class in the NFL.
The selection of Childs in the fourth round marks the 14th time in NFL Draft history that three receivers from the same school were drafted in the same year. This is the third time an SEC school has tied the draft high for receivers; Tennessee 1983 and Florida 1978.
Another interesting note about the Vikings selection of Childs and Wright, both players were not only on the same college team together but also on the same high school team in Warren, Ark.
The four former Razorback players selected in the 2012 draft bested the three drafted in 2011; Ryan Mallett, tight end D.J. Williams 5th round Green Bay Packers, and offensive tackle Demarcus Love 6th round Vikings.
Of the players with Arkansas ties, Red Wolves senior safety Kelcie McCray (Columbus, Ga.) was the only combine invitee to not hear his name called during the NFL Draft. McCray, 6’1”, 202 pounds, 4.54 forty-yard dash, ended up signing a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Arkansas Razorback’s NFL Draft Grades
Adams had the highest draft grade of all Arkansas Razorback players after Pro Day and combine drills were completed (78.2).
Joe Adams 78.2
Greg Childs- 71.0
Jake Bequette- 66.0
Jarius Wright- 68.7
Jerry Franklin- 54.5
Tramain Thomas- 49.5
Grant Freeman- 48.7
Broderick Green- 48.0
Jerico Nelson- 49.5
Arkansas State Red Wolves NFL Draft Grades
Demario Davis- 51.2
Kelcie McCray- 51.5
How NFL.com projects the grades of all players regardless of position:
100-96, top pick, future Hall of Fame player
95-85, first round pick, immediate starter
84-70, 2nd to 3rd round pick, eventual starter
69-50, 4th to 7th round pick, draft worthy
49-20, free agent player, not draft worthy
Which Player Went Where?
After the draft concluded undrafted players were able to sign free agent contracts with the team of their choice if offered.
The following is a list of all Arkansas players with in-state ties and the team they were drafted by or free agent deals signed by:
LB Demario Davis, Arkansas State, Jets, third round
DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas, Patriots, third round
WR Joe Adams, Arkansas, Carolina Panthers, fourth round
WR Jarius Wright, Arkansas, Minnesota Vikings, fourth round
WR Greg Childs, Arkansas, Minnesota Vikings, fourth round
OL Grant Cook, Arkansas, Green Bay Packers, free agent
LB Jerry Franklin, Arkansas, Denver Broncos, free agent
CB Isaac Madison, Arkansas, Dallas Cowboys, free agent
SS/LB Jerico Nelson, Arkansas, New Orleans Saints, free agent
SS Tramain Thomas, Arkansas, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, free agent
FS Greg Gatson, Arkansas, San Diego Chargers, free agent
DB De’Anthony Curtis, Arkansas, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, free agent
DE Brandon Joiner, Arkansas State, Cincinnati Bengals, free agent
SS Kelcie McCray, Arkansas State, Miami Dolphins, free agent
QB Nathan Dick, UCA, Dallas Cowboys, free agent
LB Frank Newsome, UCA, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, free agent
TE Philip Supernaw, Ouachita Baptist, Houston Texans, free agent
DE Antonio Leak, Henderson State, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, free agent