3 former Hogs impress at showcase games

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2019
West defensive lineman Armon Watts (90), of Arkansas, during the first half of the East West Shrine football game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
West defensive lineman Armon Watts (90), of Arkansas, during the first half of the East West Shrine football game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

— Three months from the NFL Draft, Hjalte Froholdt has set himself apart as Arkansas’ top prospect.

That is according to Ric Serritella, a scout for NFLDraftBible.com. Serritella came away impressed with Froholdt during his time covering the practices leading up to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl last week in Pasadena, Calif.

“I had Froholdt as the highest-rated player there,” Serritella said. “From the weigh-ins until I left, he checked off all the boxes. I thought at weigh-ins he had a great physique; I have in my notes that he looks like a Greek god. He’s going to be one of these guys that I think at the (NFL Scouting) Combine is going to be a workout warrior.”

Serritella said he was surprised Froholdt was playing in the NFLPA game, regarded as a less prestigious senior all-star game than the East-West Shrine Game or the Senior Bowl.

Froholdt was joined at the NFLPA game by defensive end/linebacker Randy Ramsey. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw was the only Arkansas player invited to this week's Senior Bowl, and defensive lineman Armon Watts and offensive lineman Brian Wallace played in the Shrine Game last Saturday.

Froholdt, who was measured at 6-4 4/8 and 306 pounds, spent last week working out as a guard on both the left and right side. He played multiple positions during his four-year career with the Razorbacks, including as a senior when he started nine games at left guard and three games at center. The Denmark native was recruited as a defensive tackle out of IMG Academy in Florida.

“The thing I really like about his game is just the versatility,” said Serritella, who called Froholdt a potential Day 2 pick in the second or third round of the draft. “You talk about experience playing all three positions on the interior, that will carry weight at the next level.

“Throughout the week he pretty much stepped up against all comers and handled them pretty well. I saw him get beat once just because he took a bad angle and got out of position. Otherwise he was steady out there.”

Froholdt had a fumble recovery during the game.

Ramsey a sleeper?

Randy Ramsey played defensive end as a senior at Arkansas, but worked out as an outside linebacker at the NFLPA game, where he forced a fumble.

Ramsey was measured at 6-3 2/8 and 226 pounds, about 10 pounds lighter than he played during his senior season at Arkansas.

“On paper, it looks like he’s undersized, and it’s true, somewhat, but what I like about him is that he has the frame to bulk up another 10 pounds,” Serritella said. “This guy looks like he can play the edge. He has the athleticism and he has some nice, violent hands. I really like his hands in combat, but he’s a guy that’s going to need some development.

“There’s just no way at his size that he’s going to be able to put his hand in the dirt. You’ve got to utilize his speed, get him on the outside standing up. Then it comes down to the strength and power. If you’re 226 lining up a guy that’s 300 pounds across from you, it’s going to be hard to generate the push with your hand in the dirt. I would like to see him stand up at the next level and utilize his speed and quickness, and work on his strength.”

Serritella said Ramsey should be able to test well at his pro day, and he could see Ramsey being taken in the late rounds of the draft.

“If I’m a team in need of an edge rusher, I’m using a sixth- or seventh-round pick on a guy like Ramsey,” Serritella said, “because you maybe redshirt him for a year or two and see if you can develop him. The tools are there; he just needs to gain some strength but everything else is there to work with.”

On the FS1 broadcast of the NFLPA game, analyst Charles Davis said he was also impressed with Ramsey.

“He had three sacks for the season,” Davis said, “but what we saw during the week would suggest he was a guy approaching double-digit sacks for the season.”

After Ramsey forced a third-quarter fumble, FS1 sideline reporter Bruce Feldman said scouts had suggested he had shown more during practice than he did on film.

"They said whoever has been working with him has been doing a good job," Feldman said, relaying the scouts' analysis of Ramsey. "He's super light, but he's really explosive and he has impressed them."

Watts impresses

Armon Watts is Arkansas’ second-best draft prospect, Serritella said. The defensive tackle sacked former Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu during the fourth quarter of the Shrine Game last Saturday, forcing a field goal when Ta'amu was trying to drive for a game-tying touchdown.

“I really was surprised,” Serritella said of Watts’ practices leading up to the game in St. Petersburg, Fla. “I hadn’t had a chance to watch him, but I watched him and he has great size. On film he’s generating push and has excellent awareness, very active hands and a great get off.”

Watts had a breakthrough senior season at Arkansas, recording 49 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. He measured at 6-4 3/8 and 305 pounds with an 80-inch wingspan and 33-inch arms last week.

“I think he has the ‘triple S’ combination of size, speed and strength, and he’s doing it against SEC-caliber competition,” Serritella said. “His ability to split double teams, he can get into the backfield - I think he brings some interior pass-rushing ability being able to get in the backfield with his athleticism. His size and athleticism are great assets.”

Serritella said he thinks Watts will be a third-day pick in the draft, hurt somewhat by a deep defensive tackle class that includes the likes of Quinnen Williams from Alabama, Ed Oliver from Houston, Jeffrey Simmons from Mississippi State, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence from Clemson, and several other notable names.

“I think someone will draft him because there’s a lot to work with, a lot of favorable traits,” Serritella said. “I think the body of work is really going to be the foundation of his draft grade.”

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Tuesday, Watts said he met with scouts from several teams while in St. Petersburg, including “a few” general managers.

“I think I had a productive week,” Watts said. “I got a lot of feedback from a lot of teams and I’m ready to keep moving with the process.”

Less Impressed with Wallace

Serritella said he was surprised to see Brian Wallace playing on the inside of the offensive line at the Shrine Game.

Wallace, who was measured at 6-5 4/8 and 317 pounds, spent his practice time at guard. He predominantly played tackle at Arkansas, but struggled in pass protection.

“When I watched him on film, I noticed he struggles with speed,” Serritella said. “He’s got great strength, but his angles need to be better. He’s a lot out of position and can get beat off the snap of the ball, so that’s probably why they have him practicing at guard.”

Other measurements for Wallace in St. Petersburg included an 84 5/8-inch wingspan and 36-inch arms.

“You see a guy with that kind of length and it looks like he’s got some athleticism for his size…these are all prototypical tackle measurements,” Serritella said. “So when you see him playing on the inside it’s somewhat disappointing.”

Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette contributed information for this story

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