There might not be a program known more for player development than Wisconsin, which routinely turns two-star recruits and walk-ons into NFL-level talent.
Take a look at least season; Joel Stave, the school's leader in career wins, was a walk-on. Dare Ogunbowale, the team's leading rusher a year ago, was a walk-on defensive back. Alex Erickson, the team's leading receiver and a first-team All-Big Ten player, was a walk-on. Tyler Marz, a three-year starter at left tackle, was a two-star recruit. Joe Schobert, the team's leader in sacks and an All-American first-team linebacker, was a walk-on.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
A history like this is what will lead teams to consider Hayes, a linebacker who sat behind two future NFL talents at outside linebacker. The son of an NFL defensive line coach and the nephew of an NFL tight ends coach, Hayes also possesses the bloodlines to receive some consideration at the next level in some capacity. Hayes ended his career with 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass defensed.
Jesse Hayes, LB
Arm length: N/A
40-yard dash: 5.03
Broad jump: 8'9.5"
Bench press: 15 reps
Pro agility (5-10-5): 4.50
Games watched: none.
Strengths: Hayes, the son of an NFL coach, has benefited from great coaching both from his family as well as at Wisconsin. He's thick through his lower half, built well. Showed decent hips in on field work at his pro day, doesn't struggle with transitions. He plays with a good motor and has a high football IQ. Special teams experience in college. Has the size to be scheme-diverse.
Weaknesses: He's simply not very athletic. He's not fast, and his athletic testing shows that. He's not overly explosive, and he was passed up in the rotation by younger players in pass-rush situations. He doesn't have great size, or length, so he's likely limited to a depth linebacker role in either scheme. He's a little heavy-footed, and looked a bit labored running. It's not real fluid.
Scheme Fit: 4-3 or 3-4 SAM linebacker
Overall: It's very tough to evaluate much more than his on-field work due to the fact that he was on the field sparingly. He was a nice rotational piece for the Badgers for the past four years, but he simply doesn't have a ton of upside for the next level. He could be picked up for a training camp, especially by a team where he has some family coaching connections: Cincinnati or Tampa Bay. I hope he proves me wrong and sticks, but I don't see him making an NFL roster. He could catch on somewhere in Canada or an arena league, however.
Projection: Undrafted free agent