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Badger Bits: Projecting current Badgers' futures in the NFL

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Adam Mertz wrote an interesting piece yesterday that featured comments from Chad Reuter, a draftnik who works for NFL Network, on some of the top NFL prospects that will be featured when the Badgers take on Oregon in the Rose Bowl Jan. 2. The story focused mostly on the Badgers, who could have anywhere from five to 10 (by my count) players drafted come April.

As always seems to be the case, the Badgers' highest regarded prospect is an offensive lineman: center Peter Konz, who Reuter likened to Maurkice and Mike Pouncey. Reuter gave Konz a first-round grade, and it seems likely he'll be the first Badger off the board. Fellow linemen Kevin Zeitler ("third- or fourth-rounder") and Josh Oglesby ("late rounds") are also likely to be taken. In last year's draft, former Wisconsin linemen Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt and Bill Nagy were selected and all ended up in their respective teams' starting lineups by the time the regular season started. If this year's class somehow does the same, the Badgers could have as many as eight former players starting on NFL offensive lines in 2012 (Joe Thomas and Kraig Urbik are the other two).

Another interesting storyline discussed the article is Montee Ball's impending decision on whether or not to declare for the draft a year early. He's told reporters he won't make a decision until after the Rose Bowl and has said he'd only declare if he was told he'd be a first- or second- round pick, but I'm inclined to believe he'll leave either way. Running backs wear out quickly, and Ball can't afford to take another season's worth of hits at the college level. You'd certainly think someone who knows more about the game than me would tell him that and urge him to consider leaving for a paycheck. Reuter predicts he'll be a late second- or early third-round pick.

Despite his slight stature, Russell Wilson is also starting to show up on draft radars as a possible late-round selection. Reuter notes that size is important for NFL teams in quarterback evaluation, but so is character, which Wilson has plenty of. Take Tim Tebow, for example. He was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft despite being built like a fullback and having worse mechanics than most college quarterbacks. Wilson certainly doesn't have first-round potential, but I won't be surprised if a team falls in love with him and reaches for him in the middle rounds.

Check out the rest of the article for more comments from Reuter.


In case you missed it yesterday, the NCAA handed down sanctions on Ohio State yesterday for the 2010 tattoo scandal.

Good news: Peter Konz is "very optimistic" about being able to play in the Rose Bowl.

Turns out the Badgers halftime defensive turnaround in the Big Ten championship game may have been the result of defensive tackle Patrick Butrym "going nuts" on his teammates at halftime.

Bret Bielema is concerned that the ACC officials working the Rose Bowl will struggle to keep up with Oregon's face-paced offense.

It looks like Paul Chryst will only be offered the Pittsburgh head coach job if FIU's Mario Cristobal turns it down. Stay tuned.

Chryst himself doesn't want to discuss it with the Rose Bowl less than two weeks away.

Former Wisconsin assistant coach Brian White is in the running to fill the offensive coordinator job vacated by the departure of Charlie Weis at Florida.

Michigan State's Isaiah Lewis finally spoke about his running into the kicker penalty that may have cost the Spartans the Big Ten championship.