Jason Ivester

Ranking the top 10 Arkansas football players

Here are the top 10 best Razorback football players for the 2016-17 season.

After a a few departures from NFL-caliber athletes, the Arkansas Razorback football team will look for other players to step up this season.  Head Coach Bret Bielema's squad will take on one of the toughest schedules in the country next season.  If they're going to have a successful season next year, then, the Razorbacks are going to need production from these 10 guys.

10. Frank Ragnow

Ragnow is the more flexible of the two returning starters on the offensive line. Last season as a right guard, Ragnow allowed just two sacks and did not commit a penalty in his final nine games. This season, the 6-foot-5-inch lineman will begin at the center position. Ragnow totaled 54 pancakes last year, while opening holes for newly drafted running back Alex Collins. Arkansas led the Southeastern Conference with five 200-yard rushing games in conference play alone, and Ragnow is a big reason for that. The Minnesota native's potential is through the roof and this upcoming season, he has a chance to show it. 

9. Keon Hatcher

A foot injury sidelined Hatcher for most of the 2015-16 season. However, the receiver can still have a big year if he stays healthy. During Hatcher's short string of on-field action last season, he totaled 13 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt senior proved himself worthy once again this spring by becoming one of quarterback Austin Allen's favorite targets. This season could very well become a bounce-back one for Hatcher.

8. Dan Skipper

As the biggest player in program history, Skipper will begin his senior season having started 34 games on the offensive line. The 6-foot-10-inch tackle can also play guard when necessary. Skipper is the only returning Razorback who was a 2015 All-SEC team member. The Colorado native did not commit a penalty over the final nine games of the season and was another key contributor in Alex Collins' big season. Collins was able to ride on the back of the biggest offensive line in the country all season, and Skipper was an important piece.

7. Dre Greenlaw

Starting as a true freshman, most Hog fans saw Greenlaw's potential, but some didn't believe he'd be such a big portion of the Razorback defense right away. Greenlaw was thrown right into the starting lineup in his third career game and finished the year as a freshman All-American. The high school safety played every game as a linebacker for the Razorbacks. At outside linebacker, his speed allowed Arkansas to be one of the nation's top run defenses last season. The Fayetteville native was the Hogs' second-leading tackler, with 95 on the season. Greenlaw's versatility, quickness and strength will keep opposing quarterbacks on their toes.

6. Brooks Ellis

Ellis finished his junior season as Arkansas' leading tackler, after an awful beginning to the year at outside linebacker. The Hogs' lack of linebacker depth forced Ellis to move to outside linebacker, but he was able to move back to middle linebacker when Greenlaw emerged as a starter in the third game of the season. Ellis finished the season with 102 tackles, good for 11th in the Southeastern Conference. Ellis' leadership and pure football instincts make him a crucial piece of the Razorback defense. Expect his final season to be a memorable one.

5. Drew Morgan

When receiver injuries piled high for Arkansas in 2015, Morgan stepped up in an enormous way. Morgan entered the season with little experience, but finished with 63 receptions for 843 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Arkansas native recorded at least one catch in every game last season. Morgan can be compared to NFL receivers Wes Welker because of their slot receiving ability and lack of height. While on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List last season, Morgan showcased his talents to the entire SEC. Morgan should excel alongside a group of veteran receivers this season.

4. Jeremiah Ledbetter

One of the strongest players on the team, Ledbetter is a part of one of the coutry's most intimidating defensive lines. Last season, Ledbetter was fifth among Razorbacks with 55 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. The Orlando native started the final 12 games of the Razorback season. Along with defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr., it seems that Ledbetter will receive strong interest from NFL teams in 2016. His move from defensive end to defensive tackle could mean bad news for opposing offensive linemen.

3. Dominique Reed

As well as Morgan, Reed became one the Razorbacks' two most dynamic playmakers in his first season out of junior college. Reed's speed sets him apart from most SEC receivers. The Arkansas native's impressive numbers came mostly in the second half of the season. Reed had seven touchdowns and finished second in the SEC in yards per reception last season with 19.1 yards per catch. His impressive numbers don't stop there, however. Reed returned 10 kickoffs for 222 yards, all of which came over the final four games of the season. Reed suffered some key dropped passes throughout the season, but offensive coordinator Dan Enos will not let that stop him from putting the ball in his hands.

2. Jeremy Sprinkle

After the departure of John Mackey Award-winning tight end Hunter Henry, Sprinkle has big shoes to fill. While all eyes were on Henry last season, Sprinkle's performance was unfairly overlooked.Sprinkle led all SEC tight ends with six touchdown receptions, all of which came in the Razorbacks' final seven games. The pass-catching and blocking tight end, Arkansas fans should give Sprinkle the credit he deserves. With Henry out of the picture, expect Sprinkle to shine.

1. Deatrich Wise Jr.

With astounding elusiveness and speed, Wise has proved himself to be one of the nation's best defensive linemen. Like a few other Razorbacks, Wise had a slow start to the season, but finished with incredible numbers. Wise led the Hogs and was tied for sixth in the SEC in sacks with 8. The Texas native's award of SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week in late November gave the country a taste of his hidden ability. If Wise can play all of 2016 without injury, he's poised for another big season.

Matt Vigoda is a University of Arkanas senior and a Scout contributor.

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