2016 NFL Draft guide: Arkansas
It’s been since 2008 that Arkansas has had a player drafted in the first round.
The Razorback Nation will be curious to see if tight end and Mackey Award winner Hunter Henry can get there when the draft starts Thursday in Chicago.
As many as six Hogs could get drafted.
What are the most interesting storylines and questions heading into this year’s draft?
1.Will Hunter Henry go in the first round?
If Arkansas TE Hunter Henry goes in the first round, he’ll be making a bit of history. There hasn’t been a Razorback taken in the first round since Darren McFadden way back in 2008. And NO Arkansas tight end has ever been drafted earlier than the fifth round (D.J. Williams, 2011).
Chances are good – well, maybe 51/49 percent – that he’ll be gone in Thursday’s first round, but there’s no guarantee. There’s no denying Henry is the best tight end in the draft and he brings some hardware to the process, having been named the Mackey Award winner last year as college football’s best tight end.
He seemed like a sure-fire first-rounder in January, but since then there’s been a few red flags – very small red flags – that have popped up. He didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the combine, and draft ”experts” commented that several teams didn’t like the way he looked in field drills. Still others say he hasn’t come across great in interviews with teams.
But throw in the tape and you see it all. He’s a more than adequate blocker. He knows how to get open. He can run and shows off good football speed. He has good hands. And as more and more teams become reliant on that safety-net tight end, it’s nice to have a guy like Henry that will go anywhere on the field to catch a ball. He had 51 catches for 739 yards last year, and those numbers were muted a big by a few games where the Hogs chose to stay very run heavy.
This is a weak class for tight ends, so he will sure be the first to be drafted. The question is: How high?
What’s the projection?: Here’s my take — Henry will sneak into the back of the first round. My guess is the Carolina Panthers at No. 30. He and Gregg Olsen would be a potent TE pair for QB Cam Newton and he’d be a great replacement down the road for Olsen, who’s 31 years old.
2.How many Razorbacks will get drafted?
That’s a really good question. The guess will be six, with Henry being the first to go, of course.
It will be interesting to see which of the two Arkansas running backs – Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams – are picked first. Both are likely third-day picks (rounds four through seven), though that still surprises me on Collins. He’s been a productive back in Fayetteville, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons. Williams missed all of last year with a foot injury, so the jury’s still out on him a bit because of the year layoff.
Linemen Sebastian Tretola has several teams interested and could be a potential Friday pick late in the third round. If not, he’ll be off the board quickly on Saturday. The Hogs’ other offensive lineman in the draft, Denver Kirkland, was considered to be out of shape at his Pro Day workout and several teams have soured on him despite his size (6-foot-4, 321 pounds). He’s the one who makes the total haul count tough to determine. Someone may take a shot on him late, or he could go undrafted. He’s the wild card through any of the last four rounds.
What’s the prediction?: Let’s stick with six. Kirkland will get drafted by someone willing to take a chance that he’ll put in the work.
3. Over/under: Will Brandon Allen be gone by end of fourth round?
Most mock drafts say fifth or sixth round for the former Arkansas quarterback, but there are plenty of people who think he’ll slide up a bit, including his agent, Kyle Strongin. There are about a dozen team who’ve liked what they’ve seen of Allen, and he’s in that group of quarterbacks ranked fifth through ninth or so. It’s a flavor of the month thing mostly, but Allen proved a lot during his senior year in Fayetteville.
What’s the prediction?: Jumping up all the way to the fourth might be a reach, but you just never know when it comes to quarterbacks because they are so cherished in the NFL. If there’s a team out there that really wants Allen, he may very well jump up a round or two. The guess: He falls just short of that, and goes in the fifth round – 150th overall – to the Chicago Bears, who desperately need a backup QB to Jay Cutler. An earlier pick might be Dallas in the fourth round, with the Arkansas/Jerry Jones ties.
Draft projections (based on several mock drafts)
Hunter Henry, TE – first or second round
Sebastian Tretola, OG – third or fourth round
Alex Collins, RB – fourth or fifth round
Jonathan Williams, RB – fourth or fifth round
Brandon Allen, QB – fifth or sixth round
Denver Kirkland, OT – fifth through seventh round
First-round picks: None. Highest pick: DE Trey Flowers (fourth round, 101st overall to New England). Total picks: Five
First-round picks: None. Highest pick: C Travis Swanson (third round, 76th overall to Detroit). Total picks: Four
First-round picks: None. Highest pick: RB Knile Davis (third round, 96th overall to Kansas City). Total picks: Four
First-round picks: None. Highest pick: DE Jake Bequette (third round, 90th overall to New England). Total picks: Four
First-round picks: None. Highest pick: QB Ryan Mallett (third round, 74th overall to New England). Total picks: Three
First-round picks: None. Highest pick: G Mitch Petrus (fifth round, 147th overall to N.Y. Giants). Total picks: One
First-round picks: None. Highest pick: C Jonathan Luigs (fourth round, 106th overall to Cincinnati Bengals). Total picks: One
First-round picks: Two. Highest pick: RB Darren McFadden (first round, fourth overall to Oakland; RB Felix Jones 22nd overall to Dallas). Total picks: Six