Arkansas defensive lineman Deatrich Wise is the first person to admit his numbers weren’t as good during his senior season last fall as they were in 2015.
And while excuse makers could point to double-team blocking or opponents taking the ball away from Wise’s position, the former Carrollton Hebron star dismissed them all in a matter-of-fact way.
“I played hurt and the power just wasn’t there,” he said. “I had broken my hand and separated my shoulder and having strength there is what I use to make my moves.”
Wise and several NFL prospects are doing off-season and combine prep work at Michael Johnson’s Performance Center.
Holding an invite to the NFL Combine, Wise will get a bright-lights workout in front of NFL coaches and general managers this week and could certainly be a prospect for the Dallas Cowboys, who will be in the market for a pass rusher this off-season.
The defensive linemen check in at the combine in Indianapolis, Ind., on Thursday and have on-field workouts on Sunday.
While the health questions will linger, no one will argue with Wise’s stature, stats and ability to make plays.
Wise had 16.5 career sacks, including 11.5 against Southeastern Conference opponents, and 23 tackles for loss. As a senior, he led the team with seven quarterback hurries and had 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks. As a junior, Wise had eight sacks.
But like any draft prospect, once the on-field numbers are in the books, it’s the off-season work that makes the biggest impact on teams.
“The idea was to come in to MJP and train hard every day,” Wise said. “I have my up and down days, but the future is what keeps me going.”
CBS Sports Dane Brugler projects Wise to go in the seventh round of the draft. His dad, Deatrich Wise Sr., was a ninth-round selection by Seattle in 1998.
Being an after thought, though, isn’t foreign to Wise Jr., as he indicated that schools from Texas shied away from recruiting him before he signed with Arkansas in 2012.
If it was because he was only 235 pounds as a high school senior, that might have been a mistake.
The 6-foot-5 Wise is all of 271 pounds now with long arms that produce a 35-inch reach and make him an intriguing prospect.
With improvements under Michael Johnson’s watch this winter, a strong combine effort could easily boost Wise’s draft stock.
“I think it’s fair to say I’m underrated, especially coming off the season I had,” Wise said. “There were more expectations of me and I had more of myself, but I still think I’m one of top three-five defensive ends on the draft board right now.
“You can say I’m underrated, but I’ll go in quietly and make noise in the NFL.”
2017 NFL Draft
The NFL Draft will be in Philadelphia, Pa., on April 27-29. The first round is April 27, second and third rounds on April 28 and rounds four through seven on April 29. Here’s the first-round order:
2. San Francisco
5. Tennessee (from L.A. Rams)
6. New York Jets
7. San Diego Chargers
11. New Orleans
12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia)
15.* Philadelphia (from Minnesota)
19. Tampa Bay
23. New York Giants
27. Kansas City
28. Dallas Cowboys
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. New England Patriots
* 14th and 15th positions will be determined by a coin flip.