For Some Hogs, Getting Drafted Isn't Certain
Keith Jackson
Keith Jackson
The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Apr 23, 2007


FAYETTEVILLE -- For former Arkansas players Jamaal Anderson, Chris Houston and Tony Ugoh, this weekend's NFL Draft can't come soon enough.

Anderson and Houston are projected to be first-round picks, and there is a chance that Ugoh could squeeze his way into being among the first 32 picks selected Saturday.

But for players like linebacker Sam Olajubutu, defensive tackle Keith Jackson Jr. and a handful of other former Razorbacks, their futures are much more uncertain.

Olajubutu and Jackson are projected to be late-round picks, perhaps in the fifth or sixth round assuming everything goes according to plan.

There is no guarantee, however, that former Arkansas strong safety Randy Kelly or offensive guard Stephen Parker will hear their names called by the time the draft concludes Sunday evening.

"The overall consensus is, a team might take a chance on him in the seventh round," said Tye Gonser, Kelly's agent, "but it's more likely that he'll be signed as a free agent."

While preparing for the draft, Olajubutu has had to combat the same negative perception that followed him to Fayetteville: He's too small to play linebacker.

Olajubutu is listed at 5-foot-9, 227 pounds, well below what is considered the ideal size for the prototypical NFL linebacker.

ESPN's 2007 NFL Draft Guide goes as far as describing the outside linebacker as "simply too small to hold up versus the run."

"Some people really like him," said Martin Magid, Olajubutu's agent. "(But) some teams, because of his height, won't consider him."

Still, Magid believes Olajubutu could be taken somewhere between the fourth and sixth round. But the former All-Southeastern Conference linebacker could slip to the seventh and final round because of his short stature.

"It can get (frustrating) at times," Olajubutu said. "But I just try not to listen to it, try not to let it bother me, try to keep moving forward and put that behind me."

Like Olajubutu, Jackson has also had his height (6-foot) brought into question.

"There is a lot of short defensive tackles in the NFL now," said Arkansas defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, a former Lombardi Award winner who played two seasons in the NFL.

Rocker said he's received calls from around 4-5 NFL teams wondering what Jackson's work habits are like and how quick of a learner is he.

But what the teams are most curious about when it comes to Jackson: Could the Little Rock native handle playing nose guard in the NFL?

In Arkansas' 4-3 defense, Jackson lined up as one of two defensive tackles. But at the next level, he'll most likely be asked to play nose guard for a team that runs a 3-4 defense.

"I think he could (play nose guard); it's just a matter of him making that adjustment," Rocker said. "You're playing head-up over center, and you're getting basically blocked 3-on-1 everytime.

"It's just a matter of if he can handle it. You have to be tough to play there."

ESPN's NFL Draft Guide projects Jackson as a sixth-round pick. But after him and Olajubutu, it's perhaps unlikely that any other former Arkansas player will get drafted -- not counting cornerback Michael Coe, who transferred to Alabama State.

Gonser, Kelly's agent, said the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have expressed interest in the safety.

But Kelly could end up signing as a free-agent after the draft ends. So could Parker. And maybe even cornerback Darius Vinnett, who looked impressive in Arkansas' first pro day.

"He'll get a shot," Chris Houston said of Vinnett's NFL chances. "They're always looking for (cornerbacks)."



Arkansas' Game With LSU Moved To A Friday As usual, Arkansas will try to reclaim the Golden Boot from LSU on the Friday following Thanksgiving.

Arkansas' game at LSU has been moved from Saturday, Nov. 24 to Friday Nov. 23, the school announced Monday. The change was made so CBS could televise the annual showdown for the Golden Boot trophy.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Central in Baton Rouge, La.

The game will mark the 12th consecutive time Arkansas and LSU have met on the Friday following Thanksgiving.





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