Fayetteville, Ark. – The 2013 NFL Draft came and went over the weekend ending with many Arkansas Razorback fans surprised about who got drafted, when, and more importantly who did not get drafted at all.
One of the bigger surprises of many for former Arkansas players in the draft was Tyler Wilson’s slide into the fourth round. Not hearing his name called in round two or three was somewhat of a shock especially after hearing he would have been a potential first round draft pick in 2012 had he come out after his junior campaign, but not until the 112th overall pick in the fourth round to the Oakland Raiders – something seems amiss.
The success of lower round drafted NFL quarterbacks in recent years has led NFL teams to devalue the position, along with running backs, knowing they can get a quality signal caller in later rounds. Perhaps the bigger draft busts in the first round witnessed by former players like LSU’s JaMarcus Russell (Raiders), University of Washington’s Jake Locker (Titans), and Florida State’s Christian Ponder (Vikings) has hurt star quarterbacks just as much.
Either way Wilson was put in the unfortunate situation of waiting round after round during this year’s draft despite his pedigree of playing at a high-level against SEC defenses week after week. A trait none of the other quarterbacks drafted ahead of him can hang their hat on as they prepare for their first NFL training camps.
Wilson, despite the always revolving door at the head coaching spot in Oakland, is going into a good situation to receive playing time early. The Raiders traded for Matt Flynn in the off-season and have no clear cut No. 1 starter for him to supplant.
The lack of a quality offensive line in Oakland might put Wilson right back in the same mindset he had while in the pocket at Arkansas for two years – running for his life.
Cobi Hamilton was another NFL draft shocker seeing his stock slide from a potential third round draftee down to the sixth round, No. 197 overall. The Bengals called his name adding a player from the SEC that proved to be a big play threat for four years then proved during his senior season that he could be the No. 1 wide receiver at a top Division-I school.
Hamilton finished his senior season as the leading receiver in the SEC with 1,335 yards being eclipsed by four receptions for the over pass catching title (Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt).
The Bengals need a proven No. 2 wide receiver on the outside. Can Hamilton fit that need? Or will Hamilton, despite his big size, be better suited for the slot? He showed he was not afraid to run across the middle in the SEC in former head coach Bobby Petrino’s offense, the NFL might be a different story for the 6’3” target.
The difference for Hamilton will be discipline in his route running. At Arkansas he rounded off cutting angles allowing defensive players to stay on his hip. NFL corners will feast on him if he tries to take shortcuts at the next level.
For a little while at least, Hamilton will be joined at the Bengals training camp by a fellow Razorback, cornerback Darius Winston. Winston signed a free agent deal once the draft was completed.
Winston is another extremely talented player that could never put it all together while at Arkansas. Will the talent meet the skill set in the NFL or will the rookie hit the pavement?
Chris Gragg has a ton of potential but looking back never put together a full season as a Razorback. Part of that was playing behind a Mackey Award winning tight end (D.J. Williams) and the other part was injuries.
By the time Gragg was ready to fulfill his given ability on the football field all was stopped short after two deep bone bruises to his leg. In total Gragg missed seven full games while also missing significant time in the Rutgers and Ole Miss game.
Gragg was never touted for his run blocking ability at the college level and may be better suited as an H-back or playing off the line giving safeties and linebackers fits with his speed and catching ability.
The Bills took a gamble on Gragg in the seventh round with the No. 222 overall selection. If utilized properly Gragg was one heck of a last round gem found for Buffalo and new head coach Doug Marrone.
The biggest surprise of the NFL Draft was going seven rounds without hearing offensive guard Alvin Bailey’s name. Bailey was an early entry who could have used another year of seasoning at the college level but was still every part of a solid SEC lineman as a three year starter in Fayetteville.
Bailey ended up signing an undrafted free agent deal (UDFA) with the Seattle Seahawks putting him on a winning team headed in the right direction. Bailey should make Seattle’s roster and find playing time if the former All-SEC second-team lineman can sure-up a few hitches in his technique.
A surprise that wasn’t really a surprise, but was, happened in the third round when Knile Davis fulfilled his dream of being a NFL drafted player. The former first-team All-SEC running back (2010) was snatched up by the Kansas City Chiefs. New head coach Andy Reid knows a thing or two about running backs and evidently saw enough to take Davis as the No. 96 overall pick.
Davis put on a display of rare athleticism during the NFL Combine running a 4.37 forty-yard dash while bench pressing 225 pounds 31 times. Possessing a dizzying display of power and speed, if Davis can avoid the repeating freak injuries that have plagued him in high school and in college he has Pro Bowl talent ability; great landing spot for another Razorback who was an early NFL entry.
List of UDFA Signings out of Arkansas
DE Tank Wright – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB Ronnie Wingo Jr. – Atlanta Falcons
RB Dennis Johnson – Houston Texans
OG Alvin Bailey – Seattle Seahawks
DT DeQuinta Jones – Seattle Seahawks
SS Ross Rasner – Denver Broncos
LB Alonzo Highsmith – Miami Dolphins
CB Darius Winston – Bengals
Arkansas Players Drafted in 2013
RB Knile Davis – Kansas City Chiefs, 3rd round, No. 96
QB Tyler Wilson – Oakland Raiders, 4th round, No. 112
WR Cobi Hamilton – Cincinnati Bengals, 6th round, No. 197
TE Chris Gragg – Buffalo Bills, 7th round, No. 222