Warren’s Gragg goes to Bills in seventh round


FAYETTEVILLE — The final day of the 2013 NFL Draft was stressful for Chris Gragg.

The former Warren and Arkansas tight end watched as several players at his position were pulled off the board throughout the day. His Arkansas teammate, quarterback Tyler Wilson, was taken in the fourth round by Oakland. Cincinnati selected wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, another one of Gragg’s teammates, two rounds later.

And as the draft moved through its final round Gragg was still waiting.

“I was fielding calls ever since (Saturday),” Gragg said, trying to figure out why he continued to wait round after round. “They were telling me I was second, third-round talent. But I was just waiting to see where I was going.”

Gragg’s uncertainty finally ended in the seventh round, when the Buffalo Bills selected the former Lumberjack with the 222nd pick. It made Gragg the fourth and final Razorback picked in a draft that featured plenty of Hogs falling short of their expectations.

Wilson was the sixth quarterback taken off the board, while Hamilton was selected in the sixth round (No. 197) as the 23rd overall receiver. The three joined running back Knile Davis, who was a surprise pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round (No. 96 overall) on Friday night, as the four Razorbacks selected.

Plenty of others scrambled to sign free agent contracts once the draft ended. The list included running backs Dennis Johnson (Houston Texans) and Ronnie Wingo (Atlanta Falcons), linebacker Alonzo Highsmith (Miami Dolphins) and Tenarius Wright (Tampa Bay Bucaneers) and safety Ross Rasner (Denver Broncos), who all agreed to terms shortly after the draft ended.

Offensive guard Alvin Bailey is expected to sign, too. Bailey, who left the Razorbacks after his junior season, ranked as one of best players to go undrafted by numerous websites and media outlets once the draft ended Saturday.

“Yal dont worry bout me cause im still happy,” Bailey, who couldn’t be reached for comment, posted on his Twitter page shortly after the draft. “I did this to myself.”

Arkansas had an opportunity to turn in one of the most prolific drafts in school history with several productive players in the 2013 class. But the Razorbacks will have to settle for a four-player haul for the second straight season.

Wilson was the first taken Saturday by an Oakland team without much experience on its quarterback depth chart. The Raiders picked up Matt Flynn in the offseason and also have former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the roster.

So Wilson’s disappointment in not being selected in the first three rounds of the draft quickly changed. He now sees an opportunity to compete immediately.

“I did expect to go a little bit earlier, but I’m so excited,” Wilson told the Oakland media shortly after being picked. “I think the situation … Going into it everybody said the situation is most important. It’s not necessarily what round or what spot or that. But it’s the situation. And I think the situation in Oakland is perfect.”

Hamilton, who was Wilson’s favorite target last season, became the fourth Arkansas receiver selected in the past two drafts. The Texarkana, Texas, native Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright, who were fourth-round picks in 2012.

He will compete for a roster spot on a Cincinnati team that includes Georgia receiver A.J. Green and former Oklahoma Jermaine Gresham. Cincinnati receivers coach James Urban said Saturday the organization was high on Hamilton after talking to him during the draft process. The Bengals pulled the trigger in the sixth round.

Hamilton — who set the school’s single-season receiver mark with 90 catches last season and also holds the career record — told the Cincinnati media he was thankful for the opportunity. But he also plans to prove he’s more than a sixth-round pick.

“I think I’m a better receiver,” Hamilton said. “I’m just really excited to come to Cincinnati with a chip on my shoulder. I’m going to show everyone that I should’ve been drafted way earlier.”

Gragg felt the same. He was thrilled to be picked by the Bills with a chance to start his pro career, but sweating it out in the seventh round wasn’t exactly what he imagined when the week began. He’s determined to make up for it now.

“I don’t really know who is on their roster right now at tight end,” Gragg said. “I just know Chris Gragg is on there and I’m going to try to make it stay like that.”

Gragg is the third player from Warren High selected in the past two drafts, joining Wright and Childs. He also became the 10th offensive player from Arkansas’ Sugar Bowl team in 2010 to be selected in the past three NFL Drafts.

Gragg believed there were others who deserved to be picked as well in Arkansas’ 2013 draft class. But he is confident time will prove they’re an NFL worthy bunch.

“We’re all great players,” Gragg said. “I know this class that came out for the draft from Arkansas has a bunch of great players. They put up a lot of numbers in their careers at Arkansas. I just think it’s going to put a chip on all of our shoulders.

“We’re all hard-working guys and I think we’re going to have great careers.”