Wisconsin Makes Their Mark
Entering the 2020 NFL Draft weekend, analysts and critics will speak to no end of programs such as Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State with the NFL prospects that they produced. Here in Wisconsin though, it is known just how big of an impact the Badgers football players can make at the pro level. Since 2009, 41 total Badgers have been selected in the NFL draft, with seven going in the first round.
Of course the world knows of J.J Watt and Russell Wilson, but when taking a look at the talent from Wisconsin. It spreads all over the league, including several who have partaken and won several Super Bowls. Going into 2020, a handful of Madison’s top talent declared for the Draft and sat patiently at their homes to see just where they will take the next step of their careers.
JT Heads Back To Lucas Oil
Undoubtedly one of the greatest running backs to ever set foot in Camp Randall is on his way to the Indianapolis Colts. With the 41st pick in the second round, the Colts took one of the top rated RB in the draft. Many believe that Jonathan Taylor will be a player who can make an immediate impact for the team that selects them. The Colts are hoping for just that. Building up a strong offensive line and game plan, Taylor has a lot to look forward to.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) April 25, 2020
Marlon Mack was able to take advantage last year with rushing over 1,000 yards. One can only imagine what Taylor will be able to accomplish coming from one strong offensive line to another. Jonathan Taylor’s accolades speak for themselves. His strengths are prominent and going forward the challenge will be working on his weaknesses. Especially ball security, fumbling the ball 15 times over his college career led to two running backs being taken before JT. Making Taylor their second round pick in this year draft all but guaranteed their running game being taken to the next level.
Zack Baun Falls To The Big Easy
Coming into this draft, many analysts predicted Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun to potentially be a late first rounder or an early second rounder. Fortunately for the New Orleans Saints, many passed up on the Badger. With the 74th pick in the 3rd round, the Saints traded up to grab the explosive OLB from Brown Deer, Wisconsin. Head Coach Sean Payton confirmed that they were desperate to move up and grab Baun. A 45-minute phone call later, the Saints were able to accomplish the pick.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) April 25, 2020
Surprisingly, Baun fell to the third round, but it is easy to see why this Badger will fit in perfectly with the Saints defense. With the strength and athleticism to get to the QB, Braun will add additional help for a team who always seems to be one move away from getting back to being a top NFL team. Baun finished his Wisconsin career with 152 tackles, 30 of them for loss and 15 sacks. Going forward Baun will need to improve his skill and not rely on his athletic ability. If all works out though, the Saints will easily be pleased with trading up.
From One Badger Center To Another
Once again another surprising fall for a Badgers player. Center Tyler Biadasz fell all the way to the last pick in the fourth round. For a player who many predicted a 3rd rounder, the Dallas Cowboys used their 146th pick to take yet another Badger center. A big hole was left in the Cowboys offensive line when former Badger Travis Frederick, who was a 5x time pro-bowler, retired this past offseason.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 25, 2020
Going into Dallas, Biadasz will have to compete among other centers to try and get into game days. Even though the center from Amherst won the Remington Trophy this past season, his inconsistent play led to his fall in the draft. The Cowboys are hoping they can strike twice with the Badgers in choosing their center to help not only create gaps for Elliott to run through, but to protect their franchise QB in Prescott.
Stafford Gets Another Weapon
For a player many speculated would either go in the late 6th or 7th round of the draft, WR Quintez Cephus got a phone call a little earlier than expected. With the 166th pick in the 5th round, the Detroit Lions selected Cephus to help out the struggling franchise. With past issues that cut into Cephus’s college career, his big bounce back in the 2019 season clearly helped the Badger get selected earlier than expected.
In his final year with Wisconsin, the wideout was just shy of 1,000 yards with 901 and was easily Wisconsin’s best offensive weapon outside of Taylor. Going into the NFL, Cephus has the ideal build for a WR and a down field threat. His work will have to focus on bettering his route running along with footwork. With a QB like Matt Stafford, it won’t be surprising if Quintez gets to work early in the season.
Orr To Prove His Worth
Many assumed that ILB Chris Orr had a high probability of going undrafted, which is what occurred. A player that made a big impact on and off the field for Wisconsin knows what a steal Orr will be for an NFL team. It is safe to believe that the Carolina Panthers agreed to terms as they picked up Chris Orr after the Draft was complete.
Many good players have not been drafted and have made a big impact for the teams that gave them a chance. Such as Badger alums Dare Ogunbowale and Corey Clement. It will be up to him to show what he is capable of. An opportunity is all someone needs to showcase what they can bring to an organization and Orr just got his shot.
Much More To Prove
The first step in becoming an effective player in the NFL is to be selected by a team during Draft weekend and every Badger who declared has gotten their chance. It now depends how they take that opportunity going forward. The average NFL career is sadly three and a half years. It takes special skill and effort to make it past that point. Plenty of Badgers have paved the way to show that it is possible to make an impact at the pro level. It might be safe to say that several of this year’s draftees will put in the effort to stick around for years to come.