Surprise Former Razorbacks Leapfrog Only Pro Bowler among Top 12 Pro Hogs in NFL

Dre Greenlaw, Frank Ragnow, Arkansas football, Pro Hogs
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics / Detroit Lions

With the Chiefs beating the Eagles on a last-second field goal in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, the 2022 season is officially over and, for the first time in 15 years, Arkansas football wasn’t represented in the NFL’s big game.

The Razorbacks had a pair of players that made it to the conference championship games, but Dre Greenlaw’s 49ers and Brandon Allen’s Bengals came up one game shy.

The last time no former Arkansas football players or coaches were in the Super Bowl was following the 2007 season, when the Giants spoiled the Patriots’ bid for perfection. The following year, former Arkansas assistant John Mitchell was part of the Steelers’ Super Bowl-winning team as their defensive line coach.

Every year since then, until this year, there was always at least one player — whether he was active or not — or coach on the staff on at least one of the Super Bowl participants.

Despite that streak coming to an end, there were still several successful former Razorbacks in the NFL this season, including 22 who appeared on the field during the regular season.

Here’s a rundown of those players, including a ranking of the 12 most significant contributors based on their Pro Football Focus grade…

Pro Hogs in 2022 — Ranking the Significant Contributors

12. Dan Skipper — Detroit Lions

PFF Grade (snaps): 44.2 (387)
2022 Stats: 16 games/5 starts

Even though he was a second-team All-American at Arkansas, Dan Skipper went undrafted in 2017 and wasn’t even signed as an undrafted free agent, so he had to enter the NFL via a tryout at the Dallas Cowboys’ rookie mini camp. He made the team by landing a spot on the practice squad and has spent much of his career since then on various practice squads, with a handful of snaps here and there.

That changed this season, when — in his third stint with the team — the Detroit Lions gave Skipper his first start in Week 2. With him playing left guard, a position he hadn’t played since he was a freshman with the Razorbacks, Detroit beat the Washington Commanders and what ensued was a special moment for Skipper:

Skipper ended up starting five games and appearing on offense in 10 others. He officially signed to the Lions’ active roster on Oct. 1.

11. John Ridgeway — Washington Commanders

PFF Grade (snaps): 48.9 (279)
2022 Stats: 15 games/4 starts, 24 tackles

Originally selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, John Ridgeway was cut just one week into the season. Dallas had hoped to re-sign him to the practice squad, but Washington claimed him off waivers and Ridgeway made the most of the change.

By Week 3 of his rookie season, Ridgeway had carved out a spot in the Commanders’ defensive line rotation and he made his first career start in Week 8. That was the first of four starts for the former FCS-to-SEC transfer.

It was an up-and-down year for the big defensive tackle, which was perhaps no more evident than the two weeks that immediately followed his first start. In Week 9, Ridgeway committed a critical penalty that sealed Washington’s fate in a loss to Minnesota. The next week, he forced a fumble that the Commanders recovered on their way to knocking off the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles.

10. Armon Watts — Chicago Bears

PFF Grade (snaps): 49.2 (531)
2022 Stats: 17 games/12 starts, 35 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB hits

Despite seeing his playing time gradually increase over the previous three seasons, Armon Watts was cut by the Minnesota Vikings when they had to announce their initial 53-man roster. He didn’t stay unemployed long, though, as the Bears scooped him up off waivers.

Watts came off the bench the first three weeks of the season before starting the next 12 games. He then came off the bench in the last two games, but still played significant reps.

(READ NEXT: From Benchwarmer to NFL Draft Pick, Where Armon Watts Ranks Among Surprising Arkansas Sports Spories)

9. Jerry Jacobs — Detroit Lions

PFF Grade (snaps) 55.8 (542)
2022 Stats: 12 games/8 starts, 42 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 8 PBU, 1 INT

Likely remembered by most Arkansas football fans for transferring in from Arkansas State and then quitting the team when he was surpassed by Hudson Clark on the depth chart, Jerry Jacobs later expressed regret for the way he handled the situation.

It wouldn’t have been surprising if that was the last anyone heard from Jacobs, but he signed with the Lions as an undrafted free agent and actually made their 53-man roster. As a rookie last season, he made the first of nine straight starts in Week 5, a streak that ended only when he tore his ACL because he was actually playing really well, earning a respectable 65.8 Pro Football Focus grade.

Because of that injury, Jacobs didn’t play until about midway through this season. After coming off the bench in his first three games back, he returned to the starting lineup in Week 11. Unfortunately for him, Jacobs didn’t enjoy quite the same success as he did a year earlier, but he did make his first career interception in Week 14 by picking off Zach Wilson.

8. Hunter Henry — New England Patriots

PFF Grade (snaps): 58.1 (795)
2022 Stats: 17 games/14 starts, 41 receptions, 509 yards, 2 TD

Ever since entering the league as a second-round pick and reigning Mackey Award winner in 2016, Hunter Henry has been viewed as one of the better tight ends in the NFL. However, he had arguably his worst season yet in 2022.

Not including 2018, when he missed the entire regular season with an injury, Henry posted a career-low 58.1 grade on Pro Football Focus and his two touchdown catches were the fewest he’s ever had in a season. His 41 receptions and 509 yards were also his lowest totals since his rookie year.

7. Hjalte Froholdt — Cleveland Browns

PFF Grade (snaps): 61.4 (591)
2022 Stats: 17 games/6 starts

Aside from some playing time with the Patriots in 2020 and a handful of special teams reps, Hjalte Froholdt hadn’t done much in the NFL before this season. The Denmark native finally got a chance to play this year with the Browns, who had signed him off the Texans’ practice squad last year.

Through the first five weeks of the season, Froholdt played only six total offensive snaps as an extra blocker. An injury thrust him into a larger role in Week 6 and he actually started a couple of games at right guard. A different injury led to him filling in at center, where he started another four games.

6. Jason Peters — Dallas Cowboys

PFF Grade (snaps): 70.2 (268)
2022 Stats: 10 games/1 start

Nearly two decades removed from playing tight end at Arkansas and now 40 years old, Jason Peters was signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad just before the start of the season and, just three weeks later, was promoted to the active roster.

It wasn’t until the final week of the regular season that Peters cracked the starting lineup, but his impact was felt much sooner than that — just not at his typical left tackle position. He rotated at left guard for several games before rotating at left tackle beginning in Week 11. Aside from one game at right tackle, that’s where Peters remained the rest of the season.

He started the Week 18 matchup with Washington and graded out well, posting a season-high 77.9 grade on 67 snaps, and then also started the Cowboys’ playoff game against the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, Peters suffered a hip injury late in the second quarter and didn’t play the following week against the 49ers.

5. Treylon Burks — Tennessee Titans

PFF Grade (snaps): 74.1 (393)
2022 Stats: 11 games/6 starts, 33 receptions, 444 yards, 1 TD; 4 carries, 47 yards; 1 fumble recovered for a TD

When he was on the field, Treylon Burks had a pretty solid rookie campaign for the Titans. Unfortunately, he missed six total games and left two others early because of injuries — nearly half of the 17-game season.

Despite all of that missed time, Burks still produced 10 “big plays,” as defined by Pro Football Focus (runs of 10-plus yards and receptions of 20-plus yards). In fact, his “big-play percentage” of 17.2% ranked seventh among all NFL wide receivers.

Still, that resulted in him finding the end zone just twice — and the first time didn’t even come on a pass he caught:

The week after that hustle touchdown, Burks caught one for himself. Unfortunately, he took a shot while doing it and was inactive the next two weeks.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Burks didn’t score a single touchdown his freshman year at Arkansas and he turned out to still have a good career with the Razorbacks.

4. Deatrich Wise Jr. — New England Patriots

PFF Grade (snaps): 74.9 (828)
2022 Stats: 17 games/16 starts, 59 tackles, 7 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 11 QB hits, 3 PBU, 2 FF

In his sixth year with the Patriots, Deatrich Wise Jr. finally became a full-time starter this year. He played way more snaps than he ever has before and it resulted in his best season yet.

According to Pro Football Focus, Wise — who had previously been primarily a pass-rushing specialist — generated 56 total pressures in 2022, which was tied for second on the team. He was officially credited with a career-high 7.5 sacks, which gives him 24.5 in his career. The result was also a career-high 74.9 PFF grade, topping the 70.6 he earned two years ago.

A good chunk of those sacks came in the first half of a loss to the Ravens, as he got former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson on the ground three times.

3. Frank Ragnow — Detroit Lions

PFF Grade (snaps): 77.9 (1074)
2022 Stats: 16 games/16 starts

Yes, he missed most of last season with a toe injury, but you would have never known it based on how Frank Ragnow played in 2022. Pro Football Focus had him graded as the fifth-best center in the NFL and he earned his second Pro Bowl nod.

It’s also impressive that he managed to do that despite missing the Lions’ Week 2 game because of groin and foot injuries. Ragnow missed just the one game and then played nearly every snap the rest of the season.

2. Dre Greenlaw — San Francisco 49ers

PFF Grade (snaps): 79.6 (1034)
2022 Stats: 15 games/15 starts, 127 tackles, 3 TFL, 6 PBU, 2 FF, 2 FR, 1 TD

Injuries have plagued the young career of Dre Greenlaw. Arkansas football fans probably remember him missing half of his sophomore season with a foot injury, but he’s also dealt with numerous injuries in the NFL.

A right leg injury caused him to miss a game in the middle of the season and he missed the regular-season finale because of a back injury, but Greenlaw still played more in 2022 than in any of his first three seasons. He started the other 15 games in the regular season and was back in time for the postseason.

The result was Greenlaw making a career-high 127 tackles. He also scored on a 23-yard scoop-and-score against the Dolphins and then picked off Tom Brady the following week, leading to this epic moment:

1. Kamren Curl — Washington Commanders

PFF Grade (snaps): 82.9 (727)
2022 Stats: 12 games/12 starts, 83 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack

To say Kamren Curl has outplayed his seventh-round draft position would be an understatement. He immediately became a contributor as a rookie in 2020, starting at nickel. He’s now a starting safety for the Commanders and turned in his best season yet.

Pro Football Focus graded him as the third-best safety in the NFL, behind only Baltimore’s Kyle Hamilton and Minnesota’s Josh Metellus — the latter of which played just 261 snaps. A thumb injury caused Curl to miss the first two games of the season and an ankle injury forced him to miss the last three games. Illustrating his importance, Washington gave up 25 points per game when Curl was out, compared to only 18.2 points per game when he was healthy.

That level of play has made signing Curl to an extension one of the Commanders’ biggest offseason storylines. There’s a thought that he could end up among the five highest paid safeties in the NFL and make more than $15 million annually.

Pro Hogs in 2022 — Played Sparingly

Trey Flowers — Miami Dolphins

PFF Grade (snaps): 78.0 (64)

Brandon Allen — Cincinnati Bengals

PFF Grade (snaps): 74.9 (16)

T.J. Smith — Minnesota Vikings

PFF Grade (snaps): 72.0 (22)

Jeremiah Ledbetter — Jacksonville Jaguars

PFF Grade (snaps): 63.3 (11)

Jonathan Williams — Washington Commanders

PFF Grade (snaps): 62.0 (99)

Cody Hollister — Tennessee Titans

PFF Grade (snaps): 61.7 (170)

*Mike Woods — Cleveland Browns

PFF Grade (snaps): 53.5 (154)

Feleipe Franks — Atlanta Falcons

PFF Grade (snaps): 47.5 (54)

Montaric Brown — Jacksonville Jaguars

PFF Grade (snaps): 37.3 (63)

*Mike Woods spent three years with Arkansas football before transferring to Oklahoma for the final season of his collegiate career.

Pro Hogs in 2022 — Special Teams or Practice Squad

McTelvin Agim — Denver Broncos/Indianapolis Colts

  • Spent the first 14 weeks of the season on the Broncos’ practice squad before being released and signing with the Colts’ practice squad.

Myron Cunningham — Cleveland Browns

  • Originally signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent before spending time on the Jets’ practice squad and ending the year in his home state by signing with the Browns’ practice squad.

De’Jon Harris — Washington Commanders 

  • Landed with the Commanders midway through last season after being cut by the Packers and spent a good chunk of this year on their practice squad, but did appear in five games on special teams — getting reps on five different units and playing 90 total snaps.

Jonathan Marshall — New York Jets/Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Spent most of this season on the Jets’ practice squad, but Pittsburgh signed him to their active roster before Week 15. However, he never appeared in a game.

Grant Morgan — Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Made the Jaguars’ practice squad as a rookie, but was released only a couple of weeks later.


More coverage of Arkansas football and Pro Hogs in the NFL…

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