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2017 NFL Draft: Wisconsin QB Bart Houston to try out for Oakland Raiders

The strong-armed signal caller gets an opportunity in the Bay Area.

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Wisconsin vs Western Michigan Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The California kid is heading back to the west coast, at least for a cup of tea near the Bay Area.

Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Bart Houston will receive an opportunity to try out for the Oakland Raiders. The Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Galloway first reported the news on Saturday evening, with a source confirming the tryout to B5Q on Sunday afternoon.

With Wisconsin football’s official Twitter account congratulating Houston, all signs point to the signal caller getting a shot with the AFC West organization.

There are currently three quarterbacks on Oakland’s roster—Derek Carr, E.J. Manuel, and Connor Cook. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and his organization did not select one during the 2017 NFL Draft.

Houston, a Dublin, Calif., native, played in 26 games for Wisconsin throughout his time in Madison and ended his Badgers career completing over 65 percent of his passes (125-for-192) for 1,540 yards and nine touchdowns. He was part of the winningest class in school history and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors from 2013-16.

Last season, Houston started five games at quarterback, going 4-1 in those contests. Though he was benched during Wisconsin’s close win at home against Georgia State in September, he slowly worked back into the fold in a platoon with redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook starting with the win at Iowa on Oct. 22.

Towards the end of last season, Houston emerged more as a reliable quarterback who has an NFL-caliber arm and exhibited solid decision making and a touch on some of his passes. Over the last four games of season, he completed over 77 percent of his throws for 558 yards with no interceptions, including 11 of 12 passes for 159 yards in UW’s 24-16 win over Western Michigan on Jan. 2, tying the Cotton Bowl record for completion percentage in the process.

Prior to 2016, Houston was a backup quarterback who before head coach Paul Chryst’s return to Wisconsin was lost in the shuffle under Gary Andersen’s regime. At one point, he was even used as a backup rugby-style punter.

Here’s Owen Riese’s pre-draft scouting report of Houston:

QB Bart Houston

*Height: 6040
Weight: 235

40-Yard Dash: 5.15
Three-Cone Drill: 6.92
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.43
Bench Press: N/A
Broad Jump: 8’10.5”
Vertical Jump: 29”

Note: Height and weight are taken from Wisconsin’s 2016 roster. Drill times are taken from Wisconsin’s pro day results on March 15.

Strengths: Looks the part. Has a big frame, has the prototypical body type for what the NFL has traditionally looked for at the position. Has two years of experience in a “pro-style” offense under Paul Chryst. Has a cannon of an arm, can make any throw needed. Throws from the far hash to the numbers with ease. Has shown the ability to go through progressions while dropping back. Gives the receiver a chance with good ball placement. Is an effective scrambler, is willing to lower his shoulder, which with defenders generally tentative to hit quarterbacks hard works in his advantage.

Weaknesses: Less than a one-year starter at the collegiate level. Idolized Bart Starr and Brett Favre, neither of which let throwing interceptions bother them. Never really became the sum of his parts. Can trust his arm a bit too much, leading to questionable decisions with the football. A decent athlete but by no means a threat to a defense on the ground. Can struggle to put touch on the ball at times.

Summary: Houston was a highly-touted recruit coming out of the powerful De La Salle program in California. Never quite lived up to his billing, spending three years as the backup to former walk-on and Wisconsin all-time wins leader Joel Stave. Was the victim of three head coaches and three offensive coordinators during his time in Madison. He was a four-star recruit for a reason: he can play the game and he’s talented throwing the football. Ultimately, Houston should end up in an offense that emphasizes his ability to drive the ball down the field. Arizona, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore all make sense as potential destinations.