Despite any transgressions or lapses in judgement Bobby Petrino may have had at the University of Arkansas recently, there’s no doubt the influence he had on a trio of wide receivers ready to become professional football players with the NFL Draft just days away.
Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs benefited from Petrino’s up-tempo college offense, and now all three of them are about to take their game to the next level.
“With the coaching change, Coach Bobby Petrino came in and brought in more of a pro-style offense,” Wright told Cheesehead TV back at the NFL Combine. “Us receivers decided to come to Arkansas at the same time, and he took advantage of all his receivers.”
To have three NFL-caliber receivers in any given year is an accomplishment for any school, and consider that current Packers tight end D.J. Williams exhausted his college eligibility just year before them.
Williams was the John Mackey Award winner given to the nation’s best tight end in 2010, and when combined with Wright, Adams and Childs, they formed one of the best pass-catching corps in the nation.
According to Wright, who still stays in touch with his former teammate, Williams was an inspiration to the Razorbacks receivers.
“Confidence,” said Wright about what he learned from watching Williams play for the Packers. “Confidence that we can step in at the next level and play early.”
When they all played together at Arkansas, the beneficiary was Ryan Mallett, the former Razorbacks quarterback, now Tom Brady’s backup in New England.
Adams received advice from both Mallett and Williams in preparation for the NFL Combine, telling him about the pre-Draft process. But that time is over and now the moment of truth is upon Adams and company.
Both Adams and Wright are strikingly similar in size and skill set, and both are drawing comparisons to Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.
Adams is 5-11, 179 pounds while Wright is 5-9, 182 and both bring that elusive quality that makes Jackson so special.
“I love being compared to DeSean Jackson,” said Adams. “He’s fast, he can make guys miss. That’s part of my game.”
The ability to be an explosive return specialist is behind the comparisons too. Adams turned 19 punt returns into four touchdowns in 2011, good for a 16.89 per return average.
While Wright didn’t return any kicks, Adams thinks the receiving skills of his teammate are reminiscent of Jackson as well.
“He’s going to be a great receiver,” said Adams of Wright. “He’s hard to catch; he’s hard to press; he’s real fast. So I’d compare him to DeSean Jackson too.”
Both Adams and Wright were productive receivers as seniors.
Wright led the way with 66 receptions for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns, followed by Adams with 54 receptions for 652 yards and three scores. Both are predicted to be mid-round draft picks.
Childs, a late round prospect, trailed both by quite a bit with only 21 catches for 240 yards without a touchdown, but there was only one ball to go around at Arkansas.
In contrast to Adams and Wright, Childs is the receiver with size on his side, standing 6-3 and 219 pounds. Even though he saw fewer receptions in 2011, he did have 48 and 46 in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The loss of Mallett may have had something to do with the fall off.
A Combine invite for Childs, however, proved just how deep the position was for the Razorbacks.
“It shows the type of group of receivers we have at Arkansas, what type of coaches we have that coach us guys up,” said Wright.
“I feed off everybody that I’m around,” said Adams, “and I just try to make guys around me better.”
The Arkansas trio is good, there’s no doubt about that. They were maybe the best in all of college football a year ago. Now the question is, how good will they be in the NFL?