|Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports Images|
|Arkansas center Travis Swanson received high praise from coach Bret Bielema.|
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema ought to know what an NFL center looks like. After all, the last two centers he coached at Wisconsin are now in the NFL. On Wednesday, Bielema indicated the one he has now -- All-SEC senior Travis Swanson -- is vastly underrated in early NFL draft projections. Bielema said Swanson has some of the same qualities of former Badger centers Travis Frederick and Peter Konz.
Those two went in the first and second rounds of the last two drafts, respectively. Bielema believes Swanson is in their class talent-wise, and doesn't understand why he's being projected as a late pick.
"Ironically, I think he kind of blends the two," Bielema told NFL.com on the SEC's weekly teleconference. "Peter Konz went second round to the Falcons, and Travis Frederick first round to the Cowboys. He probably grabs the strengths of both those players and combines them into one. Travis (Swanson) is the most talented player that I've been around at that position. He's going to skyrocket, I think, in the NFL draft. I think (he was rated) somewhere in the fifth, sixth, seventh round, in preseason, before the season got rolling. He's going to skyrocket. He's long with his arms, plays extremely physical, had 16 knockdowns on Saturday, makes every call up front, run-wise and pass protection. (He's) one of our best leaders off the field. He's embodied everything we could ever ask in a teammate here at Arkansas. The good news is, the NFL is going to get a product that will play for a long, long time."
Swanson (6-foot-5, 318) is on the Senior Bowl watch list, and is also a candidate for the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.