FAYETTEVILLE — Among the five Arkansas football players invited to the NFL Combine earlier this month, none had a more disappointing showing than Jadon Haselwood.
Speaking to local reporters after the Razorbacks’ annual Pro Day on Wednesday, the wide receiver admitted that the week in Indianapolis took a toll on him. He was sore from the medical rigamarole he had to go through and described the process as “horrible.”
That was reflected in his 4.66-second 40-yard dash was the second-slowest among the 43 wide receivers who participated in the event and was only slightly better than the likes of Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV (4.67) and Pitt defensive tackle Calijah Kancey (4.67).
“The combine was a long week,” Haselwood said. “I really wasn’t feeling good. Probably shouldn’t have ran it. After I left, I went straight back to work the next day and those two weeks I was grinding and the results showed today.”
Those results were unofficial times of 4.56 seconds on his first attempts and 4.47 on his second attempt inside Walker Pavilion — the latter of which was nearly two-tenths of a second better than his combine time.
“Today was very smooth for me,” Haselwood said. “Obviously with the 40, I was disappointed at the combine and I came in today and improved a lot, so I’m very happy with what I did today.”
It was a nice way for Haselwood to cap his one-year tenure with the Razorbacks. The former five-star recruit transferred in from Oklahoma and had a productive 2023 campaign before declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft.
In 12 games, Haselwood had 702 yards and three touchdowns on 59 receptions, which ranks eighth on the UA single-season list.
“I know I’m a football player,” Haselwood said. “I love the game, I’m a student of the game. It really doesn’t matter to me, but that’s what they wanted to see. They wanted to see me run, so I gave them a show.”
Haselwood — who told reporters that he has a meeting set up with the Atlanta Falcons on April 14 — is currently projected as a late-round pick. In a full seven-round mock draft released by ESPN a few hours before Pro Day started, he was slotted in the middle of the sixth round at pick No. 194 by the Lions.
Drew Sanders Goes Through Testing at Pro Day
A minor hamstring injury prevented him from going through testing at the combine, but Drew Sanders did everything at Pro Day.
He admitted that his time of 4.59 seconds was “not quite” what he was hoping for in the 40-yard dash and he wasn’t thrilled with his 9-foot, 10-inch broad jump, but Sanders was very happy about his 37-inch vertical. That would have been fourth among the 15 linebackers who did the vertical jump at the combine.
Wednesday also gave Sanders an opportunity to do more on-field drills than he was able to do in Indianapolis.
“That was pretty important, just to show my dropping capabilities, that I can move in space,” Sanders said. “I think that was a pretty important part of today.”
Most of the feedback he’s received from NFL teams has been concern over his lack of experience as a middle linebacker. However, something he has working in his favor is an elite pass-rushing ability that could land him a role as an edge rusher at the next level.
“My kind of thing is being a versatile player,” Sanders said. “Wherever you need me you can play me kind of a thing, really that flexibility standpoint.”
If he’s taken in the first round — ESPN’s latest mock draft has him going No. 27 overall to the Bills — Sanders would become the first Arkansas linebacker taken that high since Billy Ray Smith Jr. went fifth overall in 1983.
Unlike many top prospects, he has been preparing for the draft back home in Denton, Texas, with his dad serving as his strength coach and his mom serving as his “nutritionist.” That is where he’ll watch the draft, too.
One Last Stop Together
They were a couple of years apart, but Dalton Wagner and Ricky Stromberg played a lot of snaps together on Arkansas’ offensive line the last few seasons and are now beginning their professional careers at the same time.
Wednesday marked the last of several events in which they’ve continued to participate together, as they were both selected to the East-West Shrine Bowl and the NFL Combine — rooming together at each one.
Stromberg is the more heralded of the two linemen, projected to be the first pick of the fourth round by ESPN, and turned in a 4.47-second 20-yard shuttle and a 7.41-second ‘L’ drill. Those would have been the second- and fourth-best times in those tests at the combine, further proving his status as one of the more athletic offensive linemen available.
Afterward, he told reporters that he had dropped from 320 pounds during the season to 306 for the combine, but was back up to 310 for Pro Day. He also added that he liked being back in Fayetteville.
“I feel familiar here,” Stromberg said. “I’ve been here the past four years, so it was good to be back. And also, I like this turf a lot better here than Indianapolis, to be honest with you. It was great, it really was, to see all the coaches again.”
Wagner was very pleased with his performance Wednesday, as well. He improved his vertical jump by three inches to 27.5, plus posted times of 5.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.81 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 8.00 seconds in the ‘L’ drill.
Those numbers are far from elite, but he did have a productive career at Arkansas when healthy and that latter part might be the most important thing for him right now. He said his back is 100% and feels like “a million bucks.”
Probably more of an undrafted free agent type of prospect, Wagner feels good about how he did throughout the process leading up to the draft.
“The thing I can hang my hat on is I’ve done my absolute best leading up to this point. I got to play in an amazing all-star game, I got to go to the combine, I got to do my pro day here, I got to train at a really cool facility,” Wagner said. “At the end of the day, I hang my hat on that.”
Second Pro Day for Matt Landers
Most players participate in only one Pro Day during their draft year, but Matt Landers is a unique example of someone who was part of two.
Before coming back to Fayetteville for Arkansas’ Pro Day, he was in Athens, Ga., as a favor to one of his former teammates at Georgia: Heisman Trophy finalist Stetson Bennett IV.
“Georgia only had one receiver come out (and) unfortunately he couldn’t catch,” Landers said. “Talked to Stetson at the combine, and he needed a receiver, so those are my people, so I just decided to go just run routes for him, help him out. … And jump in front of scouts. Any time I can jump in front of scouts and show what I can do, I’m going to do it.”
Despite spending four years with the Bulldogs, Landers caught only 12 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown for them. He transferred to Toledo, where he came on strong down the stretch and finished with 514 yards and five scores on 20 receptions, but it wasn’t until this past season that he emerged as a true NFL Draft prospect.
Playing for the Razorbacks, he caught 47 passes for 901 yards — which ranks eighth on the UA single-season list — and eight touchdowns. That helped him earn an invitation to the combine, where he then ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash to further improve his stock.
“I still talk to a lot of guys from Georgia,” Landers said. “We were family. I spent most of my time there, so I was able to build a lot of relationships with them boys. Just like I kept up with them, they kept up with me. It was all love and good feedback, too. They were proud of me.”
ESPN has Landers a few spots ahead of Haselwood in its seven-round mock draft at No. 184 overall, which is early in the sixth round.
Other Arkansas Football Tidbits from Pro Day
- Representatives from 25 or 26 NFL teams were in attendance for Wednesday’s Pro Day.
- Linebacker Bumper Pool was listed as a participant, but he was there only to talk to scouts/representatives because he hasn’t been fully cleared from offseason hip surgery.
- Kicker Jake Bates, who served as Arkansas’ kickoff specialist after transferring in as a walk-on from Texas State, booted a 63-yard field goal with ease during his position drills.
- Defensive tackle Terry Hampton put up 33 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press, which would have ranked fifth among all players at the NFL Combine this year.
- Several former Razorbacks returned to campus for another shot at Pro Day, including defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson, wide receiver Tyson Morris and linebacker Jordan Silver. Those latter two were on the 2021 team, but Jackson’s last season at Arkansas was 2017.
Arkansas Pro Day Results
**These results were provided by the UA and should be considered unofficial, except for those listed with an asterisk, which means they’re from the NFL Draft Combine earlier this month**
|K Jake Bates||6-0||204||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|DB Latavious Brini||6-1.5||211||11||9-10||32.5||4.57||4.29||7.19|
|DE Dorian Gerald||6-1||247||16||8-9||29.5||4.97||4.53||7.71|
|DT Terry Hampton||6-0||303||33||8-3||29.5||5.12||4.72||7.53|
|WR Jadon Haselwood||6-2||217||n/a||10-3*||37*||4.47||4.31*||n/a|
|WR Matt Landers||6-4.5||202||n/a||10-10*||37*||4.37*||4.34||6.72|
|LB Bumper Pool||6-2||235||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|LB Drew Sanders||6-4||236||n/a||9-10||37||4.59||4.38||7.15|
|OL Ricky Stromberg||6-3||310||n/a||9-3*||32.5*||5.26*||4.47||7.41|
|OL Dalton Wagner||6-8||318||24*||8-6*||27.5||5.25||4.81||8.00|
|DT Bijhon Jackson||6-1.5||337||32||n/a||n/a||5.37||n/a||n/a|
|WR Tyson Morris||6-0.5||200||n/a||n/a||n/a||4.56||n/a||n/a|
|LS Jordan Silver||6-1||242||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
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