With the Super Bowl now in the rearview mirror, it’s officially #DraftSZN—even though some of us have been here since Aaron Rodgers got hurt, but that’s neither here nor there.
Six former Wisconsin Badgers were invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis to interview and workout for all 32 NFL teams. While the program-record 13-win season will do the Badgers well on the recruiting trail, what will continue to pay dividends is continuing to have alumni playing well in the NFL. Hello, Corey Clement and James White.
Let’s take a look at the six Badgers headed to Indy:
Troy Fumagalli, Tight End
Fumagalli might be one of the easiest evaluations in this entire draft class. He will deal with the stupid nine-finger issues with scouts in Indianapolis, but he’s pretty evident on what he is from a skill standpoint. Fumagalli won’t run very fast—I expect him somewhere in the 4.85–4.90 range—and that’s OK. He won’t test overly athletically, but that’s not how he’s going to win in the NFL, so that’s fine as well. He wins with intelligence and body positioning at the catch point, so while his stock might fall a bit in the media at the Combine, NFL teams know he is what he is, and that’s going to stay that way.
Jack Cichy, Inside Linebacker
Cichy likely won’t work out in Indy as he’s still rehabilitating his torn ACL, but it will be important for him to be at the Combine to interview with teams. Cichy has played in seven football games in the last 24 calendar months, so his interviewing skills and his ability to impress teams with his football IQ and intelligence will be paramount. Cichy’s stock is one of the more intriguing dynamics in this class.
Garret Dooley, Outside Linebacker
A riser throughout this season, Dooley, much like his teammate I’m about to write about, Leon Jacobs, is still getting caught up to by scouts, due to both players only starting one full season at outside linebacker. Dooley had a very impressive Senior Bowl, and while he’s still a bit underdeveloped as a pass rusher due to the Badgers’ scheme, Dooley is roc- solid against the run and his continued development as a pass rusher could lead to him being drafted as early as the third or fourth round depending on how he tests. Dooley is a guy to watch as the big draft media will start to pump him up.
Leon Jacobs, Outside Linebacker
Jacobs has played multiple positions during his five years in Madison and is the new FBS record holder for games played in a career. Jacobs is a piece of clay that is seemingly cut to the proportions of a Greek god. There’s a picture floating around Twitter of Jacobs’ physique that will certainly intrigue NFL teams. I anticipate him testing extremely well, and he is another player who could be a riser as we approach the draft. Recruited as a running back by Penn State, I think Jacobs runs in the 4.6s and jumps out of the gym. He’ll also kill the bench press.
Nick Nelson, Cornerback
A Hawaii transfer in 2016, Nelson burst onto the scene in 2017 emerging as possibly the most talented member of a top-ranked defense in Madison. Nelson didn’t record an interception, but displayed his impressive coverage skills all season. He’s extremely aggressive and will have to be coached to reign in some of his grabby tendencies in coverage, but his physical play will entice NFL teams a good bit. Nelson mentioned this in an interview when he announced he was declaring, but I expect Nelson to run between a 4.45 and 4.52, which will be critical for his draft stock.
Natrell Jamerson, Safety
Jamerson was maybe the most under-appreciated member of this Badgers defens, and his appeal to NFL teams will largely be due to his ability to play cornerback and safety, and as a return man. However, I think Jamerson will be a 10-year pro as a punt gunner. Think Matthew Slater or Justin Bethel from the Patriots and Cardinals, respectively. Jamerson is tough to take off the field due to his versatility and his calling card will be special teams. I expect him to run somewhere in the mid-to-high 4.5s and he’ll jump well as well. Jamerson will also bench well for a safety, as he hit a 405-pound bench press weighing 195 pounds before the season.