The Wisconsin Badgers won 10 games a year ago, much in part due to the contributions of a group of seniors that fought through three different head coaches and ended their careers with back-to-back bowl victories.
That didn’t lead to much acclaim once draft season came around, however. A group of under-recruited players weren’t unaccustomed to working hard and taking advantage of opportunities to get to where they wanted to be.
Two Badgers heard their names called in the 2016 NFL draft: outside linebacker Joe Schobert went in the fourth round to the Cleveland Browns and fullback Derek Watt went in the sixth round to the San Diego Chargers. The rest were left to undrafted free agency, with the hopes of making an NFL roster much slimmer than those drafted.
With the preseason now completed, eight former Badgers—now NFL rookies—have ended up on a team, whether on the 53-man roster or on a practice squad:
Alex Erickson, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
Tanner McEvoy, wide receiver, Seattle Seahawks
Joe Schobert, linebacker, Cleveland Browns
Derek Watt, fullback, San Diego Chargers
Darius Hillary, cornerback, Cincinnati Bengals
Tyler Marz, offensive tackle, Tennessee Titans
Joel Stave, quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
Austin Traylor, tight end, Dallas Cowboys
Michael Caputo, the revered safety and three-year starter for Wisconsin’s defense from 2013-15, spent time with the New Orleans Saints as well as the Los Angeles Rams, but passed through waivers unclaimed and hadn’t signed with a team as of Monday morning.