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2018 Wisconsin offensive line preview: The whole gang’s here

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The Badgers return all five starters in 2018, including three who turned down a chance at the NFL.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Northwestern Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin’s 2018 Offensive Linemen

2018 Spring OL 2018 Eligibility
2018 Spring OL 2018 Eligibility
Michael Deiter R-SR
Beau Benzschawel R-SR
David Edwards R-JR
Tyler Biadasz R-SO
Jon Dietzen R-JR
Jason Erdmann R-JR
Cole Van Lanen R-SO
Patrick Kasl R-SO
Micah Kapoi R-SR
Brett Connors R-SR
David Moorman R-JR
Kayden Lyles R-FR
Tyler Beach R-FR
Alex Fenton R-FR
Logan Bruss R-FR
Josh Seltzner R-FR
Blake Smithback R-FR

Note: Wisconsin released its official 2018 spring roster on March 12. As announced on Tuesday, Michael Deiter and Jon Dietzen will not participate in spring practices due to leg injuries.

2017 Starters

LT: Michael Deiter
LG: Jon Dietzen, Jason Erdmann
C: Tyler Biadasz
RG: Beau Benzschawel
RT: David Edwards

Who’s Leaving

None

Key Additions

Michael Furtney
Andrew Lyons (walk-on)

Every freshman lineman in 2017 redshirted, meaning that Kayden Lyles, Tyler Beach, Alex Fenton, Logan Bruss, Blake Smithback, and Josh Seltzner are all going to be a year wiser, stronger, and more familiar with the system, but will all still have freshmen eligibility.

Position Overview

The Wisconsin Badgers return every single offensive lineman from the 2017 season, including seniors Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel, and redshirt junior David Edwards. Each spurned the NFL for one more year in Madison. An offense that returns nine of 11 starters from 2017 could be one of the more explosive in school history.

I fully expect Wisconsin to enter spring ball with the same starting o-line it fielded for the majority of last season (Deiter, Dietzen, Biadasz, Benzschawel, Edwards). However, the main difference you could see in the spring is Deiter potentially moving inside to left guard in an attempt to give the oft-banged-up Dietzen some time off. This would also give a ton more reps to the young reserve tackles who could push for some playing time this season.

Those five, along with guards Erdmann and Micah Kapoi, should in some capacity make up seven of the top eight or nine offensive linemen for the Badgers. Cole Van Lanen got some run near the end of last season as a jumbo tight end after Zander Neuville was lost for the season. Van Lanen and Patrick Kasl both got a lot of reps last spring. Van Lanen is a former four-star recruit from Bay Port High School in Green Bay and in UW’s offense, with a left-handed quarterback, is a left tackle (right tackle traditionally). The Badgers’ attempts to find ways to get Van Lanen on the field is telling of their feelings of the young tackle. Kasl had the highest SPARQ score of any lineman in the 2015 recruiting class. The staff had him at right tackle last spring, and he finished the bowl game there after Edwards was benched in the second half. He has a ton of potential, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the staff finds a way to get him on the field like it did a year ago.

It’s tough to gauge the rest of the position group until it gets on the field this spring, which is likely the last time we’ll see most of them until 2019 spring ball. Paul Chryst has spoken about making offensive line depth a priority, and it’s getting back to where it was in the early 2010s. Beach and Fenton project to be tackles with Bruss and Lyles being guards, and Lyles also having a good chance of ending up as a center in the future. Smithback is likely a center, and Seltzner is a large body who could end up at guard or tackle if he doesn’t get moved to the defensive line due to his size.

Fans should be extremely optimistic heading into the spring. This offense has arguably as much potential as any UW offense in recent memory, and the offensive line has a lot to do with that. This line will produce three draft picks next season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up with multiple All-Americans.