FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin sat and watched the final four rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft on Saturday.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin sat and watched the final four rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft on Saturday.

When the final pick was official, signaling Franklin hadn’t been selected, the Marion native was understandably disappointed. But it didn’t take long for Franklin to find some inspiration by signing a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos.

“That’s all you can ask for is an opportunity,” Franklin said. “If you got drafted or not, free agent, you still get an opportunity to show guys what you can do.”

Franklin is one of a handful of undrafted Razorbacks who still have chances to make NFL rosters despite going undrafted. Linebacker Jerico Nelson (New Orleans Saints), safety Tramain Thomas (Tampa Bay Bucs), and cornerback Isaac Madison (Dallas Cowboys according to ESPNDallas.com) joined Franklin in agreeing to free agents deals Saturday night. Guard Grant Cook also received an invitation to participate in a rookie mini-camp with the Green Bay Packers.

It’s not the ideal route, of course. Everyone wants to be drafted. But the Razorbacks said any opportunity is good.

“It means a lot,” said Nelson, a New Orleans native who will stay at home as he tries to make the Saints roster as a safety. “It feels good. It’s a lot off your chest. You know what’s going on. You know what you need to prepare for. You know what team you’re going to and what kind of feel the team has for you and how much they like you. “So now I feel good to be going into the organization. I’m ready to go.”

Franklin and Nelson were four-year starters on Arkansas’ defense, earning plenty of experience in the rugged SEC. Thomas and Madison started most of their careers, too.

Each will spend the next several weeks preparing to make an impression on their respective teams in mini-camps. Making it in the NFL as an undrafted rookie is difficult, but not impossible. Former Arkansas wide receiver George Wilson went undrafted in 2003, but is now Buffalo’s starting safety.

Thomas, who had his East Chambers (Texas) High number retired during a ceremony at the school Saturday, said he and the rest of his teammates hope to follow the same path.

“(Tampa) came to the workout in Arkansas and I had been in touch with the (defensive backs) coach ever since,” Thomas said. “We have a pretty good relationship, so I’m just ready to get down there and work.”

Nelson won’t have to go far. He was in New Orleans for the draft and is looking forward to mini-camp with the Saints, who won’t have head coach Sean Payton this season while he serves a suspension for the bounty scandal.

“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Nelson said when asked if he had any hesitation in signing with the Saints. “That happened last year. They’re suffering for that. But in my mind, I’m just trying to make sure I help out the team any way I possibly can.”

That’s Franklin’s objective in Denver, too.

Franklin, who was projected as a seventh-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, estimated having 16 offers to choose from after the draft ended. He chose the Broncos.

“I feel like they’re moving in the right direction,” Franklin said. “I feel like the linebacker corps, I can get an opportunity to help the team out in any way I can.”

Franklin didn’t hide his disappointment in not being selected Saturday. But Franklin said it will serve as motivation as he tries to make Denver’s roster next season.

“You can’t dwell on what happened,” Franklin said. “Now I’ve got a chance and an opportunity to show that I can do it.”