I've said it before, I'll say it again. The NFL Draft process can be kind of stupid. You see people drop in draft grades for highly shady reasons, there's overvalue toward the 40-yard dash and let's be honest: the Badgers have been underrated for players who are too small and a step too slow.
After Wednesday's pro day, however, it looks like that might change.
Dezmen Southward has shown himself to be a spectacular athlete. He's over 6' tall and listed at 211 pounds. Add to that an official 4.35-second 40-yard-dash time and a 42-inch vertical at Pro Day? You have an athletic package that makes Gil Brandt seem prescient.
Watched tape on #Wisconsin DB Dezmen Southward. Good-looking player, looks like he can run in 4.4s. Could be top 100. #sleeper— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) February 11, 2014
But Badger fans are looking at this, and they're going to be shocked. "Have any executives seen Dez Southward play?" they'll say, clutching their hot takes on Southward like weapons.
Yes, Southward's instincts are more conceptual than tangible. But in the draft, people love upside. Here, you have a player who is at once so very experienced (54 games played), a player who has a default mode toward making aggressive moves (and aggressive mistakes) and yet he's a player that's so raw in terms of experience. Some team is going to think it'll change him.
He looks like he can play. One of you is probably reading this and shouting "BUT HE CAN'T!"
And my answer? Yes, he's sushi raw. He had some real struggles in coverage. His technique had some problems as well. And the team that drafts him might be expecting him to change positions. He worked the Senior Bowl as a cornerback to display his ball skills.
He has two career interceptions and 11 career pass break-ups. In 54 games. That's, uh, something that would need improvement.
So long story short, Southward looks like he's earned himself some money with this pro day. And that's good for him. But the team that drafts him is going to draft a developmental prospect. That's not to say he doesn't have value from day one. You could well get a spectacular gunner. Spectacular.
But if you take him in the third or fourth round? You are going to have to be patient with him.