FAYETTEVILLE — Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs came to Arkansas together in 2008, planning to spent the next few years helping Arkansas' passing attack become one of the most prolific in the nation.
FAYETTEVILLE — Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs came to Arkansas together in 2008, planning to spent the next few years helping Arkansas’ passing attack become one of the most prolific in the nation.
So it only seemed fitting Saturday, when the 2012 NFL Draft worked through its final day, the record-setting wide receivers were grabbed off the board in the fourth round.
Adams was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 104th pick in the fourth round, while Wright (No. 118) and Childs (No. 134) — teammates since playing at Warren High — went to the Minnesota Vikings. It capped a draft in which four Razorbacks were selected, joining defensive end Jake Bequette (New England’s third-round pick).
“I was jumping out of my seat,” Wright said of his selection. “I was really excited.”
The three wideouts produced plenty of thrilling moments during their record-setting Arkansas careers and, when it was time to head off to the NFL, managed to equal some draft history as well.
It was the 14th time three receivers from the same school were selected in a draft class. The last time it happened was the 2009 NFL Draft, when three North Carolina receivers were pulled off the board.
“The one thing I like about these Arkansas receivers is in their passing game, they’ve learned to run routes, adjustments, all the things you’re looking for at the next level,” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said Saturday. “So they come out almost pro ready in a lot of ways because of what they did in their passing game.”
Adams — who was projected as a third-round pick by ESPN’s Todd McShay before the draft — was the first one selected Saturday. He became the 16th wide receiver selected and the Panthers are confident he will help.
“When you put the tape on, you see his explosiveness, his vision, the way he runs with the ball and the way he creates,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera told the Carolina media Saturday. “There are a lot of positives he brings to the table with his return ability, and then as a slot receiver he’s a guy who understands the routes that need to be run and where he needs to sit down in holes, things like that.
“We really do look forward to having a young man like that on the team.”
Adams had to wait longer than expected, but told the Carolina media during a conference call he’s happy to be part of an offense led by receiver Steve Smith and quarterback Cam Newton, last year’s No. 1 overall pick.
“I’ve been watching every pick,” said Adams, who was with his family in Little Rock for the draft. “I tried not to stress myself out by thinking about it. So I just tried to control what I can and God picked this for me. So I’m going to do what I can out of this situation and make it good.”
Adams — who visited Carolina during the pre-draft process — believes he can crack the rotation at receiver as a rookie. There’s no doubt the Panthers will turn to Adams in the return game. Carolina ranked last in the NFL in punt returns last season, averaging 5.5 yards an attempt. Adams scored four punt return touchdowns last season.
“That gives me a lot of confidence that they believe in me,” Adams said. “I’m going to go out there and make sure I do everything I can to make them proud.”
Wright and Childs, meanwhile, became one of the most interesting stories of the final day of the NFL Draft. The Warren natives have played together since high school and will remain teammates in Minnesota.
It’s an opportunity Childs said he and Wright — who have known each other since third grade — considered before the weekend.
“We talked about this one day, what if we end up going to the same NFL team?” Childs said during a conference call with the Minnesota media. “It would be crazy.
“We’ve been together through elementary school, middle school, junior high, high school, same college team, and now we are moving on in life and we still are going to the same team together.”
Both should get a chance to crack the Minnesota receiving rotation, too.
The Vikings — who selected quarterback Christian Ponder in the first round of last year’s draft — are led at receiver by former Florida star Percy Harvin.
Wright said he has admired Harvin and is looking forward to working with him.
“He is definitely a guy I see some similarities between in the way we play, and what we bring to the game,” Wright said.
Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings believe Wright can help them in the return game, too, after working him on special teams earlier this spring. Spielman, who was in attendance for Wright’s record-setting performance against Texas A&M (13 catches, 281 yards, two touchdowns) said the wideout will be valuable in many ways.
“He’s an extremely gifted athlete,” Spielman said. “He has great speed and we’re trying to increase our speed both on offense and defense. … We feel very fortunate to get Jarius at the time we got him. Not only can he help on offense, but also as a potential returner as well and a big-play returner.”
Childs, meanwhile, gives the Vikings a big and physical target who may have gone higher if not for the patella tendon tear he suffered in Nov. 2010. Childs — who has admitted to returning from the injury too quickly in 2011 — impressed enough during the draft process to convince be selected.
“He looks fully, 100 percent healthy,” Spielman said. “We’re looking to get a player that we saw in 2010 and 2009. A big outside receiver that does have big-play ability.”
Childs said he plans to make the most of the opportunity as he joins Wright in Minnesota.
“I’m here to do it all,” Childs said. “I’ll play any position they put me at. I’m going to learn the whole playbook so I can play every position. I’m just ready to get out on the field and compete.”