HOOVER, Ala. -- Travis Swanson gave some passing thought to entering the NFL draft as a junior, but unlike some prospects who might have agonized over such a decision, Swanson was always relatively sure he would return to the Razorbacks for his final college season.
"I think it was more of a curiosity thing. I didn't want to wake up six years from now and say 'What if?'" Swanson said. "I'd say 95 percent of me just knew I was going to come back. I was just curious as to how that whole process worked and what not."
How that process works is this: Players considering an early jump to the pros apply in December for feedback from the NFL's Draft Advisory Board. That feedback is returned in early January, not long before the league's deadline for players to declare for early eligibility. That information, in turn, helps players make informed decisions about whether to stay in school. Swanson said the board's feedback at one time was more specific about draft projections but now only indicates whether a player would likely be chosen in the first two rounds.
"I guess how they structure it now, they either tell you if you would go in the first two rounds, or you won't," Swanson said.
Swanson said his feedback indicated he would likely be drafted in the third round or later. For fullback Kiero Small, however, Swanson's value is hard to measure.
"Travis is not a talkative guy, but when he gets to the line, he talks a lot. It's crazy how day and night it is," said Small. "But when he gets up there, he can diagnose everything. He's been playing forever. To have that at the center position is big for the offense. To me he is the best center in this country. I see him second to none."
Swanson has been named to the Outland and Rimington Trophy watch lists.