The 2016 NFL Draft has come and gone, and five more Razorbacks heard their names called, marking 25 draft picks dating back to 2011. That's a solid number no matter how you cut it, and one Hog fans should be proud of.
But while I was watching on Saturday while waiting for the final four Hogs to be drafted, a couple of things became quite clear to me that I wanted to discuss.
1. Jerry Jones does not care about drafting Razorbacks
And I mean, does - not - care. A lot of people have probably already realized this, but it doesn't stop some people from expecting Jones bring stars from his alma mater to his franchise in Dallas.
To be clear, it's not just fans who think this way. It happens in the media too.
No way Jerry Jones finishes this draft without taking an Arkansas player. Just, no way.— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) April 30, 2016
And did he? No.
Jones' first NFL draft as the Cowboys GM was in 1990. In the generation of time since then, how many Razorbacks has he drafted?
It was Felix Jones in 2008.
If you've got more time than me, you can check out the list of Arkansas' draftees here and figure out how many teams have not only drafted one Razorback, but several. It's a lot. The Chargers alone have taken two in the last two years. Dallas' rival in Washington took two in one draft last year and a third the year before that. Bill Belichick has drafted five Hogs since his Patriots started winning Super Bowls in this century.
It's not like there just haven't been opportunities where the timing didn't work out quite right. The Cowboys were looking for a backup quarterback this year and Brandon Allen was available. They took Dak Prescott in the fourth round. The same Prescott that Allen dueled basically throw for throw in Fayetteville last fall.
Surprised Dallas took Dak Prescott over Brandon Allen.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) April 30, 2016
No reason to be surprised. Jones clearly doesn't show any preference to the Razorbacks. And he shouldn't. For all the criticisms of Jones as a GM, nepotism for alums his former school isn't one of them.
But will this stop people from expecting Jones to draft Razorbacks next year and every future year? Probably not. But it should.
2. Are we sure NFL teams prefer players who played in pro style college systems?
Razorback fans see this constantly. Arkansas brands itself as #ProStyleU on its social media accounts. Bret Bielema has very publicly made a stand in keeping with his style of offense even when every trend in college football pointed to hurry-up pass-happy spread offenses. He's told the media that he talks to NFL scouts and they are attracted to the ways his players play football. It's all a great sales pitch for recruits.
But is it actually true?
Yes, Arkansas has had 25 NFL Draft picks since 2011, and 14 of those were coached by Bielema and he even signed 5 of them. That's a good record. Butch Jones took over Tennessee the same time Bielema did and the Vols haven't had a draft pick since 2014.
However, Henry was the earliest of Bielema's draftees in the 2nd round and Travis Swanson is his only 3rd round credit at Arkansas. 11 of his 14 Arkansas draftees have come in the 5th round or later. All of Arkansas' draftees this year were taken after notable players who played in spread systems.
For instance, both Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins went in the 5th round, but not until after running backs from major spread systems like Texas Tech and West Virginia were taken. Arkansas even played Texas Tech the last two seasons, and do you remember a running back? Did they even run passing plays? They run the type of offense that lines up in a shotgun on 4th-and-inches.
The Razorbacks had three draft-elgible offensive linemen, two of whom were considered legitimate draft prospects, and only one was drafted - in the 6th round. And that was after spread system lineman from schools like Washington State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Auburn, Indiana, Missouri, Baylor, and others.
Maybe the NFL does appreciate college players in pro style systems, but it doesn't seem to win them many brownie points come draft time. Perhaps for those players talented enough be be drafted, they might have an easier transition to the pro game than spread players, but it doesn't seem to give them too much of an advantage on draft boards.
But regardless, let's keep up with this draft rate. Averaging 4-5 picks a year is pretty nice.