Five Razorback Football players selected in NFL Draft
FAYETTEVILLE, AR (arkansasrazorbacks.com) – The University of Arkansas had five student-athletes selected in the 2015 NFL Draft on Saturday, including four defensive players. It is the first time since 2008 that the Razorbacks have had five or more players drafted and the first time since 1989 that the Razorback defense produced four selections in a single NFL Draft.
Defensive end Trey Flowers kicked off a busy day as he was the second selection of the fourth round by the New England Patriots. The Huntsville, Alabama native finished his Arkansas career with 47.5 tackles for loss, the second-most in program history and was a second-team All-SEC selection as a senior in 2014. He joins an impressive list of drafted defensive linemen coached by head coach Bret Bielema during his head-coaching career including Nick Hayden (Carolina), O'Brien Schofield (Arizona) and two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt (Houston).
Flowers will be joined in New England by Razorback tight end AJ Derby. A recently converted quarterback, Derby was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round. After moving from quarterback to tight end as a senior, Derby played in seven games, catching 22 passes for 303 yards including a highlight-reel 54-yard touchdown reception against No. 7 Alabama. He is the fourth tight end coached by Bielema that has been drafted, joining current NFL tight ends Lance Kendricks (St. Louis) and Garrett Graham (Houston).
The Washington Redskins also drafted two Razorbacks – linebacker Martrell Spaight and cornerback Tevin Mitchel. Spaight was chosen early in the fifth round, becoming the 23rd Razorback linebacker all-time to be drafted. After starting just two games in 2013, he became the SEC's leading tackler as a senior, the first time an Arkansas player has ever led the SEC in tackles (128). Spaight was a consensus first-team All-SEC selection last year and was the first Razorback linebacker drafted since Tony Bua was picked in 2004 by the Miami Dolphins.
Mitchel was selected by Washington in the sixth round after playing in 43 games and totaling 157 tackles throughout his career. As a senior, the Mansfield, Texas native primarily played the nickel position, covering the opposing team's slot receivers. He was instrumental in Arkansas' defense finishing in the top 10 in both total and scoring defense, something the Razorbacks had never done since joining the SEC in 1992.
Defensive tackle Darius Philon went to the San Diego Chargers in the sixth round, becoming the fourth defensive player from Arkansas to be drafted. Philon played two seasons for the Razorbacks, playing in all 25 games with 18 starts. He earned second-team All-SEC honors as a sophomore after totaling 46 tackles, including 11.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks.
The five selections in the 2015 NFL Draft marks the 14th time the Razorbacks have had five or more draft picks since the modern NFL Draft began in 1970. It's the third time in Bielema's head-coaching career that he has had five or more players selected in an NFL Draft.