The Green Bay Packers passed on one Wisconsin Badgers outside linebacker during the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday.
They didn’t on Saturday.
Wisconsin Rapids native and former Wisconsin captain Vince Biegel was selected by the Packers with the first pick of the fourth round on Saturday. That pick, 108th overall, actually came from the Cleveland Browns in a trade for Green Bay’s 29th pick in the first round.
Biegel’s name was not called on Friday night in either the second or third rounds of the draft. He admitted on Saturday during a conference call with reporters seen on Packers.com that he had a “nice little draft party” at his home the night prior. Nonetheless, the former Wisconsin Badgers captain believes events happen for a reason.
“One of the things is that I’m a very religious guy, and I trust in the process, and I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and I knew that everything would work out for a reason,” Biegel said. “What do you know? I wake up this morning early, and the Packers have three minutes left on the clock. I was like, ‘Shoot, the Packers aren’t taking me first pick.’
“All of a sudden, my phone blows up. It says, ‘Green Bay, Wisconsin,’ and it’s the Packers on the line. I’m like, ‘I could not believe it.’ You can’t write up a story like that, I mean it’s crazy.”
God has a plan! Just have to trust is his timing.— Vince Biegel (@VinceBiegel) April 29, 2017
Biegel will join Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Jayrone Elliott, among others at outside linebacker.
Is this a dream for the in-state product, who excelled at Wisconsin Rapids as a prep linebacker, went on to have a successful college career in Madison, and now joins the organization he followed as a child?
“Without a question,” Biegel said. “Obviously I grew up in the state of Wisconsin. I dreamed about being a Wisconsin Badger first, and obviously became a Badger, and I dreamed of one day playing in the NFL. If you look at old pictures of me growing up, I was always wearing green and gold. I wore a Cheesehead, and I was probably the most Wisconsin kid you could be. So truly to be able to say I went to Wisconsin football, play high school football, college football and now in the NFL—I mean, listen to me, this is every Wisconsin kid’s dream and I feel incredibly blessed.”
Hear from 4th-round Wisconsin LB @VinceBiegel live. #NFLDraft on @nflnetwork: https://t.co/8hCYgRsiEB https://t.co/ZzIoNWbWxW— Green Bay Packers (@packers) April 29, 2017
Here are some other highlights from Biegel’s 13-minute conference call with the media on Saturday morning. Make sure to check out the full interview here.
If he got a feeling that he might end up with the Packers
“You know, I hope so. I had some contact with the Green Bay Packers. I talked with them a little bit in the process. I had [met with] them at the Senior Bowl, I talked with them at my Pro Day, so there was definitely a lot of contact with them. I understood that they needed an outside linebacker, and for me to come in there and fulfill that role, I’m really excited.
The professional way of doing things even at the college level
“That’s one thing that I really feel like I try to be, not a professional on the field but try to be professional off the field. I try to help out my team. I try to be the smartest football player I can be. I try to break down film, I try to be the best guy I can be, not just understanding the outside linebacker position but understanding what are the front seven are doing? How do my drops in coverage fit into the back-end side of things of the defense?
“Whether it was on or off the field, I try to conduct myself like a true professional, and I think that also stems from one of my position coaches in college, Tim Tibesar. He was a linebacker coach previously with the Chicago Bears, and he was with myself, Joe Schobert, T.J. Watt. One thing he told especially me and Schobert the other year was to act and conduct yourself like a professional. He said he was going to treat us like professionals. I think that really gave me a great transition now into the NFL here.”
A player in the NFL he models his game after
“You know, it’s funny you say that. This is a frequently asked question that I got along this process here—the combine, Pro Day, Senior Bowl—and I said I try to conduct myself and I take parts of my game from every player, and one of them is Clay Matthews. I have a ton of respect for Clay. I have a ton of respect for him as a player, his big-play capabilities. There’s also other players around the league, but to be able now to go to the Packers, I’m going to be humble and learn from great players like Clay and the rest of the linebackers. I can’t be more excited.”
It was meant to be!! @packers #GoPackGo #Packers @VinceBiegel pic.twitter.com/deXbBOmU2A— Sarah Panzenhagen (@SarahPanz) April 29, 2017
Does this simplify the wedding planning?
[Laughs] “You know what, it definitely does. I’m getting married on July 1, but right now for the time being, the wedding stuff is planned out. My effort, my energy is going into football right now. The wedding will come and go, but with me, I’m a football player. My soon-to-be wife, Sarah, she could not be more excited to stay here in Wisconsin as well. She was born and raised here in Wisconsin as well, so we’re excited to obviously continue our journey here in Wisconsin.”
Any conversations with T.J. Watt?
“Yeah, I definitely did. You know, T.J. and I were definitely teammates in college, and he was on the other side of me. What a great player—I could not be more excited. I sent T.J. a text congratulating him with the Steelers, and you know what, I couldn’t be more proud of him. Everybody has their different journeys, but I’ll definitely be watching not just T.J. but Schobert with the Browns. You know, T.J. and I had some great conversations along the process. We saw each other down at the combine. Wished each other luck, and just to represent Wisconsin the best way we could. I wish T.J. the best of luck in everything as well.”
What type of pass rusher could he be in the NFL?
“You know, there’s always area for improvement, right? I think that I can continue to improve as a pass rusher, but I think being able to pass rush is one of my strengths in my game. However they utilize me, I’ll definitely go in there with a chip on my shoulder, learn from guys ahead of me like Clay, learn from veterans, guys who’ve been there. I’m just really eager to learn. [Defensive coordinator] Dom Capers is a guy who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, so I’m excited to get in there—whether it’s inside, outside linebacker—wherever they need me in pass rushing, coverage, I’m excited to go in there and show my versatility and just work.”
Is the mullet coming back?
[Laughs] “You know what, I actually just had a nice, clean cut haircut for the draft, so if the mullet starts to grow, it has to be right now, so we’ll see. I don’t know if it will be this season, but the mullet, all in due time, will come back I’m sure.”
Is there more pressure now after growing up a Packer fan, being a Badger, and coming to Green Bay?
“I don’t know if it’s more pressure. I just look at it as a dream come true to play for the Packers. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I don’t think it’s pressure—I think it’s a blessing—again, I went to Wisconsin for my family and friends to watch me. For me to be able to be an example now in my community and stay in Wisconsin and have my friends and family in the state of Wisconsin watching me, I could not be more excited. Pressure does come with that, but I’m excited for that opportunity.”
What family history adds to this moment
“You know, it definitely means a lot. There was a guy who was really crying pretty hard here, and that was my dad, who was here at the draft. It means a lot for my dad. We have a very strong family of football here in Wisconsin with the Biegel family. Obviously my dad, my uncle, my grandfather—my grandpa Ken is a high school hall-of-fame coach—my dad and my uncle both played high school here and played college football at BYU. My brother and I both played college football at Wisconsin, so we feel very honored to represent Wisconsin in any way we can. Listen to me, I’m also trying to be an example for the kids Wisconsin. That’s what I tried to do at Wisconsin at the university, and now to be a Green Bay Packer, it’s a dream come true.”
Favorite memory of the Packers growing up
“You know, there’s a lot of memories I have. I was a big Brett Favre fan, I was a big Brett Favre fan—I have a lot of respect for Brett. Actually a good family friend of ours as well, Ty Detmer, played for the Green Bay Packers as well. So I remember when Ty was playing with the Packers and when he was playing with Detroit and they were playing at Lambeau, we would always go see Ty and stuff like that. Those are some of the memories that I remember—seeing Ty after the game and talking with him and just kind of living in the moment. At the time when you’re a kid, the stadium, the atmosphere is really larger than life. To be really be able to live that out, listen to me, I am incredibly blessed.”