While the Wisconsin's streak of producing a first-round selection ended this weekend, five former UW stars had their named called. In one of the biggest surprises of the entire NFL Draft, safety Dezmen Southward was the first Badger taken off the board, selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round at No. 68. Nine selections later, linebacker Chris Borland was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. Running back James White was picked by the New England Patriots in the fourth round with the third-to-last pick, while Jared Abbrederis was selected by the Packers as the last compensatory selection of the fifth round. Beau Allen rounded out the Wisconsin selections when he was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round at No. 224.
Among the undrafted free agents, tight ends Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak landed with the Atlanta Falcons. Defensve tackle Ethan Hemer chose the Pittsburgh Steelers, and offensive lineman Ryan Groy signed with the Chicago Bears. The man who followed up Russell Wilson, Danny O'Brien, joined Pedersen and Wozniak in Atlanta, which might be the biggest I-cannot-believe-I-am-typing-this story of the year.
Even though Southward might have been taken a lot higher than expected, he has the athletic ability and aggressive nature at the line of scrimmage to succeed at the next level. He reminds me a lot of Green Bay's Morgan Burnett. Both make their presence known when chasing down opposing ball carriers, but are far too inconsistent in pass coverage. (Note: Burnett had 14 career interceptions at Georgia Tech while Southward had two.) How good will Southward be in the NFL? Jake has the breakdown. Southward also talked with Justin Cox of AtlantaFalcons.com Friday night and laid out his key was to starting a school-record 54 games.
I really liked New England's decision to snag White, who could see some early action with the Patriots' backfield being out of whack. Most notably, he's going to see the field because he's a solid pass blocker, which is especially useful on 3rd-and-long situations. Could White eventually be a tenured NFL veteran, unlike past UW backs? Jake runs through the history. Senior Bowl executive Phil Savage was also a big fan of the pick, as was Sports Illustrated's Don Banks.
Love the @Patriots selection of Wisconsin RB James White. Can run, block and catch. Totaled 4000+ rush yards while sharing time in Madison.— Phil Savage (@SeniorBowlPhil) May 10, 2014
Patriots just took a very productive and polished runner in ex-Badger James White. He'll be useful in Foxboro.— Don Banks (@DonBanks) May 10, 2014
The Niners added an absolute stud with their selection of Borland, and the Ohio native is going to get some great tutelage from linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Plus, he'll have the opportunity to face Wilson & co. twice each year. We all know he's undersized, but will that deter Borland from becoming a good pro? Jake recalls the history of UW linebackers in the NFL. Here's the transcript of Borland's conference call with reporters. Head coach Jim Harbaugh had a classic line to describe his tackling technique:
"It's like a bowling ball hitting pins."
I imagine Abbrederis was beaming from end to end when he answered the phone call from the Packers. Even though the former walk-on slipped in the draft, he has the capability to help Green Bay's aerial attack, primarily from the slot. Also, head coach Mike McCarthy might utilize him in the return game to lessen the load off Randall Cobb.
How good of a fit is Abbrederis with Aaron Rodgers? Mike talks with SB Nation's Acme Packing Company about the selection. Largely, the last great receiver to hail from the Badgers was Lee Evans, but can Abbrederis break the trend? Jake once again has the answers. As the Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Oates writes, Ted Thompson broke his unwritten bias for UW stars for the first time in his tenure. The last Badger to be selected by the state's team was offensive guard Bill Ferrario in 2001.
It's never too early to look ahead to next year's NFL Draft. The first running back in this weekend's draft didn't come off the board until late in the second round, but will 2015's be any different? Absolutely, presuming Melvin Gordon declares and foregoes his senior season. Mocking The Draft's Dan Kadar has Gordon slotted to the Falcons with the 21st pick, which would be a crazy development seeing as how Atlanta currently has five Badgers on its roster.
Jake and Scott chat with the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Wes Hodkiewicz to recap the weekend's draft for Green Bay, while also discussing the UW draft class in this week's edition of Kielbasa Kings Extravaganza.
For one last time, UW students (including myself) will be able to Jump Around at Saturday's graduation.
At age 31, Devin Harris is in search of a long-term contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
In the not-so-good-news department, former Minnesota and current Rutgers quarterback Phillip Nelson was arrested for an alleged assault early Sunday morning.