Like college coaches and their recruiting, the NFL scouts never stop perusing the undergraduate ranks to see where their next first round pick or "steal" will come from. Going into the 2013 season it doesn't appear the Hogs have an sure-fire first rounder, though solid play through 12 (hopefully 13 and in a dream world 14) games could dramatically change a player's draft stock.
Based on the post-spring depth chart was released last week, here are a few players (in no particular order) going into the 2013 season who are either a senior or a junior who could forgo their last season of eligibility and may hear their name called in late April of 2014 in Radio City Music Hall.
- OL Travis Swanson (6-5, 314, Sr.)- He has started all 38 games of his Razorback career at Center and was named the All-SEC Second Team in 2012. Interestingly enough, one website had Swanson as their No. 87-ranked player for the 2013 draft. Assuming he continues to improve as he has done throughout his career, Swanson could go early.
- QB/WR Brandon Mitchell (6-4, 230, Sr.)- Mitchell will play quarterback and could be starting depending on Brandon Allen's success, but he will have to revert back to receiver if he wants any chance to play in the NFL. He is the same size as Chicago's Brandon Marshall, has good hands, and can provide good run blocking. Mitchell could throw kinks into an offense with his abilities from his quarterback days, too.
OL Brey Cook (6-7, 318-pounds, Jr.)- Cook split time this season with Alvin Bailey, who signed with Seattle as a free agent. This is a perfect example of a player with plenty of upside and size who with a good season in Bret Bielema's offense could climb draft boards. That said, this is the kind of player who seems dedicated to the program and may stick around for his senior season either way.
- DE Chris Smith (6-3, 266, Sr.)- Smith was an All-SEC Honorable Mention selection in 2012 and his tackles for loss (13) rank 7th in school history for a single season. CBSSports.com has Smith as a top-15 defensive end heading into the season. He and Trey Flowers will not only benefit this year's defense but could raise one another's draft stock with big seasons.
- DE Trey Flowers (6-4, 243, Jr.)- The other bookend on the defensive line has shown flashes of becoming a difference-maker for a defense that was one of the worse in the SEC a season ago. Remember his homecoming to Auburn a year ago? Yes, it was Auburn, but he terrorized the Tiger O-line with 3.5 sacks and five tackles. He offers that much-coveted quickness off the line and could project to a linebacker at the next level.
- FB Kiero Small (5-10, 255, Sr.)- A Baltimore native, Small mimics the man (Vonte Leach) who plays the same position in his hometown. He lacks about two inches to Leach but Small makes up for it in his potent, debilitating blocks. Never before have I been so intrigued by a lead blocker than when I watch him lead block. He's. With teams like San Francisco lining up more often in the I-formation with two tight ends, a spot on a lineup could be had if Small can increase his pass catching skills. Kiero... doing what he does so well is worth two highlight videos:
Of those who will be eligible next season, who else do you see possibly getting their name called? I'm also interested how high (or low) you see these or others going next season. Comment below.
A native of Arkansas now calling the Hogs from yonder in Georgia, you can follow Graham on Twitter @grahamreavesor read his blog, On My Mind In Georgia.
Arkansas Razorbacks Way-Too-Early 2014 NFL Draft Preview