NFL Draft 2014: So You Drafted a Badger, Jacob Pedersen Edition

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

Jacob Pedersen is a versatile player who put in the work to become a valuable player in Madison. Can he step up to the next level?

Recent history's fared well for getting Wisconsin Badgers into the NFL at a third position. You know UW's been getting its running backs in the league. And of course, the offensive line. But, the Badgers have also had luck getting tight ends on NFL rosters, as well. From Owen Daniels on, you spend regular time blocking and catching passes at the "Y" for the Badgers, you have a real chance at something like an NFL career.

Now, Jacob Pedersen doesn't have the stats of a Travis Beckum or a Lance Kendricks. The 39 catches he had this year make for a career high, but he was integral to the passing game that was...shaky...over the past couple of seasons. The team that drafts Pedersen is likely to get some good value out of the deal.

See, Pedersen is a jack of all trades when it comes to the tight end position. Despite being undersized, he takes good angles in run blocking and is willing to get up against his assignment. He knows how to leverage himself against a bigger defender. He's also has experience as an in-line tight end, an H-Back (which will be where he mostly lines up in the pros) and he will sometimes come out of the backfield playing the role of the fullback. In short-area situations, his athleticism does come through.

Pedersen's best asset to a pro team, though, would be as a receiver. He knows how to find openings in zones and grew into a reliable target for Joel Stave to look to as his senior season wore on. Pedersen also won't give up on a play that breaks down and finds a way to get open and get the team positive yardage. Add this to the fact that Pedersen has a good catch radius and body control to help adjust to passes that might be errant (rarely seen in these parts) and you have a receiver that can become any quarterbacks best friend.

But Pedersen is what scouts would term as a "high-floor" player. A 4.89-second 40-yard dash time at the combine is just a part of the major knock against him. He's undersized and would likely need to add some weight to help some teams who might draft him. He's a willing blocker, but he's definitely more of the wall-a-guy-off type than a driver. If you're asking him to do things with more intermediate to long-range plays, he's likely not going to be the answer. There have also been times where he's disappeared as a Badger in the passing game.

Pedersen came to Madison as a two-star prospect, and he left Madison as the piece that kept defenses from truly keying on Jared Abbrederis. Now the process begins again. There's no hype for the team that gets Pedersen, but you get a tough player with good hands and some in-positional versatility. He may never truly be a starter for the team that gets him, but he's got what it takes to stick and be useful.

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