A three-Hog afternoon

Smith, Small and Hocker join Swanson as draftees

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014
Arkansas fullback Kiero Small runs during an Oct. 12, 2013 game against South Carolina at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Arkansas fullback Kiero Small runs during an Oct. 12, 2013 game against South Carolina at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith played for the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff on the South team at the Senior Bowl.

Now Smith will be playing for the Jaguars for real after being taken by Jacksonville with the 19th pick of the fifth round and the 159th overall pick of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

Smith was drafted lower than he expected, but he was happy when the Jaguars called and he spoke with General Manager David Caldwell and defensive line coach Todd Wash.

"It was funny when coach Wash came on the phone he said, 'You thought we had forgotten about you,' " Smith said.

Smith was one of three Razorbacks drafted on Saturday, with fullback Kiero Small going to the NFL champion Seattle Seahawks and kicker Zach Hocker being taken by the Washington Redskins on back-to-back picks in the seventh round at 227th and 228th overall.

Arkansas center Travis Swanson was chosen in the third round late Friday by the Detroit Lions.

Razorbacks offensive lineman David Hurd tweeted that he agreed to a free-agent deal with the Miami Dolphins and former defensive lineman Robert Thomas tweeted he agreed to a free-agent deal with Washington.

Smith, who had 211/2 career sacks at Arkansas, said the Jaguars collected all of his contact information at the Senior Bowl, then didn't get in touch with him through the rest of the pre-draft process.

"The general manager was telling me they loved how I played in the Senior Bowl," he said. "I'm just blessed to be a Jaguar."

Smith said his seemingly preordained connection to the Jaguars included him recently buying a Jaguar car.

"It was just a sigh of relief to be picked," he said.

The Jaguars, who run a base 4-3 defense, have told Smith they want to play him at weak side linebacker, who is called "Leo" in their terminology.

"They want to play me on the weak side and go do what I do best, go rush the passer," said Smith, who will head to a Jaguars mini-camp on Monday.

Smith laughed when a reporter suggested he would make an easy transition to the NFL since he's already familiar with the Jaguars' defense based on his Senior Bowl experience.

"I'm always told, when you get drafted, that's the easy part," Smith said. "The hard part is staying in there."

Small was the second fullback drafted after Auburn's Jay Prosch was picked by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round. He said he fits in well with the Seahawks because of the team's physical style of play.

"For them to think enough of me to bring me in, draft me, is just a great feeling," Small said in a teleconference with Seattle media. "My cousin said it from the beginning. He said I was going to end up in Seattle."

Small watched the draft with family members in his hometown of Baltimore.

"The closer and closer we got to my name being called, everybody was saying, 'Seattle! Seattle!' " he said. "It's a great feeling for it to come true."

Small was listed at 5-10 when he played at Arkansas, but said on the teleconference he's actually 5-8 1/2.

"Don't forget the half," Small said with a laugh.

Small's primary role at Arkansas was blocking, but last season he rushed 40 times for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 128 yards and 1 touchdown.

"I'm coming in to compete and make the team as best as I can and play a tough brand of football," Small said when asked to describe his style of play. "The pretty much sums it up for me."

Hocker, from Russellville, was the first placekicker drafted. He holds Arkansas' career record with 354 points, hitting 61 of 78 field goal attempts and 171 of 173 extra point attempts, and had 113 touchdowns in 201 kickoffs.

Washington Coach Jay Gruden said Hocker will compete with Kai Forbath for the place-kicking job and that it's possible the team may have a kickoff specialist. Forbath hit 35 of 40 field-goal attempts for the Redskins the previous two seasons.

"Kai needs to kick off better. That's a fact," Gruden said. "He's obviously a very good field-goal kicker, which is important, and we have a lot of respect for his talent as a kicker. But we also felt like we needed to bring another kicker in here and compete and look at for the kickoff specialist type thing.

"Every other position on the football team has competition, and the kicker should be no different."

Sports on 05/11/2014