It seems there is a list this time of year for everything, top 10 news stories, biggest comeback, top play of the year. So here is my completely subjective, fully biased list of the top NFL careers by former Razorbacks.
It is not really much of a surprise who is at the top by an enormous margin. An undrafted former College TE who put together a Hall of Fame 15 year career and counting. Somehow he managed to start every game this season for the defending Super Bowl Champions after an ACL injury last October. In a class by himself Jason Peters put together far and above the greatest career of any former Razorback since 2000, and his career earnings agree.
Salary $ from Sportrac.com
The big question is who is next after Peters? The obvious choice on stats alone would be Darren McFadden. However he was unable to stay healthy or reach that Pro Bowl caliber level. Running back years in the NFL should be multiplied times 2 or 3, and McFadden lasting 10 seasons was an accomplishment after racking up 785 rushing attempts at Arkansas.
So the way I have this list sorted out the #2 career would be Bobbie Williams. Williams played 12 seasons at Guard for the Eagles with 9 of them as a starter racking up over 20 million, but never signed a McFadden/Peters level contract.
After Williams and McFadden it gets even tougher, with the salary info for Hamlin and Kennedy missing. Ken Hamlin did sign a 6 year 38 million dollar contract with Dallas in his comeback season and only Pro Bowl selection but only completed 2 years of that contract.
Shawn Andrews is probably next and had the Pro Bowl selections to prove it but injuries cut his career to only 6 seasons.
The most surprising career is another position change at the NFL level, George Wilson who was a WR at Arkansas and went on to play 9 seasons in the NFL and earn over 13 million. This was comparable to journeyman backup Tarvaris Jackson who put together a 9 year career as well with comparable earnings. Even though he transferred we still count him as a former Hog right?
Some of the least productive NFL careers based on where they were drafted belonged to Jamal Anderson, and Matt Jones. Anderson earned top 5 on this list but only played 77 games and racked up a total of 7.5 sacks. We all know the story of Matt Jones shocking the league at the combine, making some Sportscenter plays at Jacksonville, then disappearing. Ryan Mallett could well end up in this category but was only a 3rd round pick, or could get a shot somewhere and end up in the Tarvaris Jackson/Jarius Wright Category.
If it was my choice I would like to see more careers like that of Jaruis Wright, Bret Goode, or David Barrett instead of the boom and bust that we have witnessed with so many skill position guys. Peyton Hillis, and Knile Davis both had a couple solid seasons but were not really compensated for them and injuries proved to be the biggest hurdle.
Looking to the future, Hunter Henry and Frank Ragnow have cashed in on 1st and 2nd round money, and with a few more consistent seasons could get that big second contract boosting them toward the top in earnings. Alex Collins has produced but once again those big contracts at the running back position are far and few. Let me know who you think has had the best NFL career in the last couple decades.