Outside of Melvin Gordon, the most impressive aspect of the Wisconsin Badgers' season was the general performance of the defense. They got to the No. 1 spot in the country, and there were games when the defense was monstrous. Sure, the "Chevy Bad Boys" -- the nickname given to Wisconsin's linebackers -- deserve credit, but there was a player who did the dirty work that helped Derek Landisch make all the cool plays and Vince Biegel become a star.
That of course, is Warren Herring. If you draft the 6'3 292-pound nose guard/defensive end, you're likely going to get a chance at a good reward for your late round pick. Why?
For one thing, the nose guard spot is a position where you're doing work to let others make the plays, and being consistently able to allow the linebackers to play downhill is an integral part of the responsibilities of the position, and if you're not the 330-pound sort that can just take on two linemen alone? It takes good leverage and a motor to not just be pushed around and have linemen bounce off and pick up linebackers every chance they get.
Herring also has a pretty quality first step for a big man in terms of getting into a gap and causing havoc in the backfield. His junior year, he ended up with six tackles for loss and four sacks in limited duty as a nose guard behind Beau Allen. He came into Madison as a tight end/defensive end prospect and as he grew, he managed to keep his athleticism.
You can also find a usage for Herring as a 4-3 or a 3-4 defensive end. He spent time as both during his Badger career, and last year saw time at nose and out in the five technique at end. it's also not a stretch to see the skill set he provides as a pretty quality 4-3 one gap attacking defensive tackle. That's the sort of versatility that teams love in a late round draft choice.
There are a couple of reasons why Herring looks like a prospect that's going to be in late round discussions unless he blows up on Wisconsin's pro day on March 11. The one year he goes into as a starter, he has a knee injury. You can look at the Badgers' stats and see that he was missed (at some points desperately), but when the one time you get an opportunity for a full season of play in a college career causes you to miss five games? Cruel fate's likely to cost you some money.
Secondly, he doesn't have the moves to shed blockers in a pass rush. He noted he was working on improving that at St. Vincent's Performance Center in Indianapolis in preparation for Wisconsin's pro day. In fairness, this has been a theme among most Badger defensive prospects, and as a nose guard, you're not exactly trying to make all the tackles. This is where the pro day looks like it's going to be most important. If he's tasked to put on more size, it would likely be at the cost of the athleticism he's shown.
If you're a team looking for a one-gap defensive tackle, you're thrilled to get Warren Herring at any point on day three of the NFL Draft. If you're just looking for some valuable depth along the defensive line -- and let's be honest, if you're an NFL team, that's likely the case -- Warren Herring definitely has a chance to add some quality play if and when he gets a chance.
And if he blows the pro day out of the water? He's shown on the field that he won't be a reach earlier than that.