FAYETTEVILLE — The 2023 NFL Draft will begin Thursday and then conclude on Saturday with several Razorbacks hoping they hear their name called during the seven rounds.
Round 1 will be Thursday night then the next two on Friday. Saturday’s final day of the draft will have Rounds 4-7. The Razorbacks had five players attend the NFL Scouting Combine earlier in the process. They obviously, along with others, hope to end up on an NFL roster.
Linebacker Drew Sanders, 6-4, 236, is projected to go first among the Hogs. Most mock drafts project Sanders to be late first or early second round pick. in one season at Arkansas after transferring in from Alabama, Sanders had 103 tackles, 40 solo, 13.5 for loss, 9.5 sacks, one interception, five pass breakups, six quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a recovery.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper ranks Sanders the No. 37 player available for the draft and No. 2 inside linebacker behind Clemson’s Trenton Sanders. ESPN’s Matt Miller has a seven-round mock draft and has Sanders going to the Houston Texans at No. 33 which would the second pick of Round 2.
Center Ricky Stromberg, 6-3, 310, is a good bet to be the second former Razorback drafted. Kiper places Stromberg No. 6 among centers. Miller has Stromberg projected to be taken by the New England Patriots in Round 4 with the No. 117-overall pick. Stromberg was a four-year starter at Arkansas and also has experience playing guard if needed.
The other three Razorbacks who attended the NFL Scouting Combine were offensive tackle Dalton Wagner, 6-8, 318, and wide receivers Jadon Haselwood, 6-2, 217, and Matt Landers, 6-4 1/2, 202. Kiper ranks Wagner the No. 22 offensive tackle. Kiper has Landers the No. 39 wide receiver and slots Haselwood in at 47.
Wagner had a very good career at Arkansas and enjoyed a healthy 2022 season. That is good news for him and he could offer some help to an NFL team at right tackle.
Both Landers and Haselwood were one-year transfers like Sanders. Haselwood came from Oklahoma and Landers from Toledo. Landers ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash at the combine while Haselwood recorded a 4.47 at the Arkansas Pro Day.
They topped the receiving charts at Arkansas in 2022. Haselwood caught 59 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games. He opted out of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl to prepare fo the draft. Landers caught 47 passes for 901 yards and eight touchdowns. He had a big showing in the bowl win over Kansas.
Another Arkansas draft hopeful recognized by Kiper and where he ranks at his positon is inside linebacker Bumper Pool (28), 6-2, 235. Pool had some injury issues in 2022 or would be projected higher with NFL teams. He finished his career as the all-time leading tackler with 441. The former four-star standout at Lucas (Texas) Lovejoy had an outstanding career at Arkansas and could make some NFL team happy they took a chance on him.
A Razorback not mentioned by Kiper who could stick with an NFL team if he got in the right spot is safety Latavious Brini, 6-1 1/2, 211, who played one season after coming over from Georgia. Brini ran a 4.57 in the 40 at Arkansas’ Pro Day. He was sixth on the team in tackles with 55, including 32 solo, in 13 games. Brini also had four tackles for loss, a pass breakup, one quarterback hurry, recovered two fumbles while forcing one.