Arkansas' Draft Pool Thinner Than In Past Yea

FAYETTEVILLE — Darren McFadden had to wait only 20 minutes to hear his name called on the first day of last year's NFL Draft.

Jamaal Anderson needed a little bit longer in 2007, but not much. Within an hour or so, the former Arkansas defensive end got word that he was heading to the Atlanta Falcons.

Jonathan Luigs, on the other hand, realizes that he'll have to be patient while watching this weekend's draft at his parent's house in Little Rock.

The former All-American center isn't considered a first-day selection, and he might have to wait until Sunday evening to find out if he'll be the only former Arkansas player drafted this year.

"It might only be me. I mean, I might not even get drafted," Luigs said. "Or somebody else might surprise you and get drafted."

The draft kicks off at 3 p.m. today with the first two rounds, and the final five rounds will wrap up Sunday. ESPN will televise both days.

The Razorbacks have had an impressive two-year run in the draft, producing three first-round picks, two second-round selections and a total of 10 players taken in 2007 and '08. But Arkansas' talent pool isn't as deep or well-stocked this year.

While several players could end up getting into an NFL camp as undrafted free agents, Luigs — with his quick burst off the line of scrimmage and knowledge of the game — is considered Arkansas' most legitimate pro prospect.

And barring something unexpected, there is a good chance that the Razorbacks will have only one player drafted like in 2006 when safety Vickiel Vaughn was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the second-to-last pick.

"You hear different things, but if I were to guess (where I'd be drafted), I would say anywhere from round four through six," Luigs said, adding that the New Orleans Saints were the only NFL team that flew him in for a personal visit.

"It seems like all the teams that were interested in me just (picked up) a center in offseason trades or their (offensive) line coach went somewhere else or different things like that."

This year's situation is drastically different than in 2007 when Anderson was taken with the eighth overall pick by the Falcons and former Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh were selected with back-to-back picks in the second round.

A year ago, the Oakland Raiders took McFadden with the No. 4 pick, tying him with defensive tackle Dan Hampton as the highest drafted Razorbacks in the NFL's modern era. Fellow Arkansas running back Felix Jones went later in the first round to the Dallas Cowboys.

This weekend, however, Luigs could be the only Razorback who hears his name called.

"It could happen that I don't get drafted. I've got to be prepared for that," said former Arkansas offensive tackle Jose Valdez, who's considered a possible seventh-round selection. "Then it's my pick.

"You know, I get to pick what team I want to be a free agent under, what teams are interested. Basically, you've got to fall into the puzzle. Be the right piece for the right puzzle."

Regardless of where Luigs is picked, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino believes the center has a future in the NFL.

"He'll play for a long time on the next level," said Petrino, who spent much of the 2007 season as the Falcons' coach. "He's flexible enough to stay healthy, he's very, very smart, he'll know what to do. He'll immediately pick up the offense, and he's got the physical tools to do it."



NFL Draft



When: 3 p.m. today (Rounds 1-2), 9 a.m. Sunday (Rounds 3-7).

Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York City

TV: ESPN




Arkansas Players Taken In Past Two NFL Drafts



Name Position Round/Pick Team

Darren McFadden RB First (4) Oakland Raiders

Jamaal Anderson DE First (8) Atlanta Falcons

Felix Jones RB First (22) Dallas Cowboys

Chris Houston CB Second (41) Atlanta Falcons

Tony Ugoh OT Second (42) Indianapolis Colts

Marcus Harrison DT Third (90) Chicago Bears

Nate Garner OT Seventh (211) New York Jets

Peyton Hillis FB Seventh (227) Denver Broncos

Keith Jackson Jr. DT Seventh (248) St. Louis Rams

Marcus Monk WR Seventh (248) Chicago Bears

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