Wisconsin’s draft history should encourage Arkansas fans

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Arkansas fans weren’t all sold on Bret Bielema upon the announcement of he would be their new head football coach. Despite a winning record in the Big Ten, there were questions about whether or not he could recruit or win in the SEC with his style of play.

Recruiting aside, my argument on why he would succeed is his superior development of players. His recruiting classes were never anything special, but the talent he signed, he developed. The NFL has proven that in the three drafts alone.

Check out the starting offensive line in 2010, who were all drafted. There was one four-star player and one unranked player, and the other three were three-stars. Obviously other players were drafted under Bielema during his tenure, but for the sake of development, let’s look at the offensive line.

1. Gabe Carimi, OT, Chicago Bears
1st round: Pick 29, 2011 NFL Draft
Recruit ranking: 3*

2. John Moffitt, OG, Seattle Seahawks
3rd round: Pick 75, 2011 NFL Draft
Recruit ranking: 3*

3. Peter Konz, G/C, Atlanta Falcons
2nd round: Pick 55, 2012 NFL Draft
Recruit ranking: 4*

4. Kevin Zeitler, OG, Cincinnati Bengals
1st round: Pick 27, 2012 NFL Draft
Recruit ranking: 3*

5. Ricky Wagner, OT, Baltimore Ravens
5th round: Pick 168, 2013 NFL Draft
Ranking not available

Last year’s center Travis Frederick was drafted in the first round by the Cowboys, too. Frederick redshirted the 2010 season but developed under Bielema.

Travis Frederick, C/G, Dallas Cowboys
1st round: Pick 31, 2013 NFL Draft
3*

Bielema and Wisconsin were known for their downhill, physical running game throughout his tenure. Now, he brings that same ideology and development ability to Arkansas, where he can recruit even rawer, more athletic offensive line prospects than what he did at Wisconsin. Obviously, higher-rated prospects don’t mean higher drafted players, or even that they’ll be as good, but Bielema’s track record of developing lower-rated players has to be a feather in the cap of any Arkansas fan.

Photo Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

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