Jackson Caps Hectic Draft Day For Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE — The first day of the NFL Draft wasn't that stressful for several former Arkansas players. Defensive end Jamaal Anderson was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the eighth overall selection, and cornerback Chris Houston and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh were chosen with consecutive picks early in the second round.

But the second day of the draft didn't go nearly as smoothly for those former Razorbacks who had not yet heard their names called.

Keith Jackson Jr., who was largely considered too short to be an effective defensive tackle in the NFL, was the only Arkansas player selected over the final four rounds Sunday.

The St. Louis Rams took a chance on the 6-foot, 305-pound Jackson, selecting him toward the end of the seventh round with the 248th overall pick.

"I just wanted to hear my name called," Jackson said. "But I got with a good team that really needs some depth on the defensive front and it's going to be a great thing to play with the St. Louis Rams."

At one point Sunday evening, Jackson thought he was going to have to settle for being an undrafted free agent — like several of his former Arkansas teammates.

NFL teams had doubts about Jackson's size, and the Little Rock native didn't know that the Rams were interested in him until they called.

"Size was an issue, so some of the teams passed up on me," Jackson said. "I'm happy the St. Louis Rams gave me the opportunity to play for them and show people wrong, that I am a great player."

By being drafted, Jackson follows in his father's footsteps. As a highly rated tight end out of Oklahoma, Keith Jackson Sr. was the No. 13 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1988 draft.

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said he was impressed with what he saw from the younger Jackson, whom Kiper described as a "real fire plug on the interior."

"(The) kid gives you everything he has," Kiper said moments after Jackson was drafted. "Every ounce of energy he spills it on the football field."

Last year, strong safety Vickiel Vaughn was the only Arkansas player drafted. But four Razorbacks were taken in this year's draft — not counting former starting cornerback Michael Coe.

Coe, who transferred to Alabama State prior to his senior season at Arkansas, was taken by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round.

Once the draft ended Sunday evening, the agents for several former Arkansas players started working the phones and talking with teams to get their clients free-agent deals.

Linebacker Sam Olajubutu, who also had to answer questions about his size, signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tight end Wes Murphy was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Meanwhile, offensive guard Stephen Parker admitted he was "extremely excited" to not be taken during the two-day draft. That gave him a chance to weigh his options and then decide which situation was best for him.

Parker said he agreed to a two-year contract with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night.

"I may have gotten drafted by a team that I wouldn't have been a great fit in," Parker said. "But I got a great line coach (in Miami's Hudson Houck), a great offensive scheme I'm going into, and who wouldn't love playing in Miami?

"So I think it's pretty much a perfect fit. I'm kind of glad the way it all worked out."

Some draft publications had projected Olajubutu as a late-round pick, possibly going in the seventh round. But teams shied away from the All-Southeastern Conference linebacker because of his 5-foot-9 height.

As a result, Olajubutu ended up being among the handful of former Razorbacks who had to settle for being undrafted free agent.

Jackson said cornerback Darius Vinnett signed with the St. Louis Rams, and wide receiver Dedrick Poole — who transferred to the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff after having some legal trouble at Arkansas — was acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Meanwhile, deep snapper Brett Goode signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, giving him a chance to be Matt   Jones' teammate on the high school, collegiate and NFL levels.

Goode and Jones played together at Fort Smith Northside and Arkansas, and there is a possibility that they could be rejoined with the Jaguars if Goode makes the roster.

"We've always had a really good relationship," Goode said. "It's nice getting to go down there and knowing somebody that if I have a question or something I could ask him."

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