Wisconsin football well represented at NFL Draft

Wisconsin football made its impact known in last weekend’s NFL Draft with five players selected, the seventh straight year multiple Badgers were picked.

Though this year marked the first year since 2010 that the program did not have a player taken in the first round, only six schools had more players picked than Wisconsin. The Badgers’ foe for the 2014 season opener, LSU, had the most players drafted with nine.

Safety Dezmen Southward was the first Badger off the board, getting taken in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons. It was somewhat of a surprise for Southward to be the first Wisconsin player taken, but his draft stock rose tremendously behind a superb pro day that included a 4.3 40-yard dash and a 42-inch vertical.

Nine picks later, linebacker Chris Borland was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers at 77th overall. Scouts have questioned Borland’s physical attributes, particularly his 5’11” height, but Wisconsin fans will recall his reliable tackling ability and instinct to always be around the ball. Check out this vicious tackle of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez in the 2012 Big Ten championship game below.

As the third and final day of the draft kicked off Saturday, running back James White became the third Badger draftee when the New England Patriots took him at the end of the fourth round. Playing alongside Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon, White’s incredibly productive collegiate career was always overshadowed.

Seen as a change-of-pace back in the NFL, White enters a backfield that has traditionally allocated carries by committee. He should immediately see limited playing time in some capacity.

Badger and Packer fans alike were pleased with the final pick of the fifth round when Green Bay selected wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. The Wautoma, Wis., native has always been underappreciated—going from walk-on to primary target in the UW passing attack. Abbrederis projects as a possession receiver in the Packers’ West Coast offense.

The final Wisconsin pick came in the seventh round when the Philadelphia Eagles drafted defensive lineman Beau Allen. Starting at nose tackle as UW transitioned to a 3-4 defense, Allen excelled at the new role and made noise off the field with his vivacious personality.

Four more Badgers have been signed to NFL rosters as undrafted free agents. Tight ends Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak will both head to Atlanta as the Falcons try to find a replacement for retired Tony Gonzalez. Offensive lineman Ryan Groy signed with the Bears and defensive end Ethan Hemer was signed by Pittsburgh.