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Arizona Wildcats have weak presence in 2019 NFL Draft

arizona-wildcats-2019-nfl-draft-pj-johnson-kevin-sumlin-rich-rodriguez-college-football James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Had defensive tackle PJ Johnson not been taken by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round on Saturday, the Arizona Wildcats would have gone without a draft pick for the second time in three years.

But that lone pick continued Arizona’s recent trend of poor draft performances, with only four players selected in the last five years.

Arizona entered the 2019 draft next-to-last in the Pac-12 in terms of players drafted since the league expanded to 12 teams in 2011. It’s now tied for last with the Washington State Cougars having two guys taken this year and the Colorado Buffaloes getting one selection.

It could be worse, though: the Oregon State Beavers went pickless for the second year in a row.

The lack of recent draft picks is a reflection on the recruiting during the final years of Rich Rodriguez’s tenure. Current coach Kevin Sumlin figures to change this, if his time at Texas A&M is any indication, as the Aggies had at least three players taken each year while Sumlin was in charge.

Linebackers coach John Rushing indicated during spring practice that the current Arizona staff is focused on bringing in a different type of player, the kind that presumably could be more desirable by NFL teams.

“In this conference you’ve got to have size, a lot of times this last year we stepped on the field and we were the smallest team on the field,” Rushing said. “I think it was a different body size with the last staff, as far as the type of guys they recruited. I just think we’ve got to get more athletic and bigger. We’re moving forward, continuing to get guys who have the length and the frames to put on the weight.”