Folks... it’s almost draft time. Let us rejoice!
This has become one of my favorite pieces to write over the past couple of seasons. While I’ve only had one correct prediction—Robert Wheelwright being signed by the Kansas City Chiefs last year—it’s a fun exercise that explores some of the possible outcomes of this weekend’s NFL Draft.
Check out B5Q throughout the week for our scouting reports and features on Badgers finding homes or tryout camps in the NFL. For now, here’s where I think this year’s class of Badgers could go.
Round 3, Pick No. 92 overall: The Pittsburgh Steelers select... LB Jack Cichy
Due to the unfortunate injury to Ryan Shazier this past season, the Steelers will likely be looking to add some depth and talent to the linebacker position as the team continues its youth movement. Cichy is an above-average athlete, which fits what Pittsburgh has done on defense over the past couple of seasons. Cichy joins former teammate T.J. Watt in Blitzburgh.
Round 4, Pick No. 101 overall: The Green Bay Packers select... CB Nick Nelson
To be fair, this is a personal favorite of mine, but something that I think could be a legitimate possibility. Nelson fits new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense, and I’m sure Pettine has reached out to his former pupil/current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to ask about Nelson. Due to the reported meniscus injury Nelson suffered, he could fall a little, but this would be a great value for Green Bay with the first pick on Day 3. This would make it three straight years with a Badger being the first pick of the fourth round (Joe Schobert to the Cleveland Browns in 2016, Vince Biegel to the Packers in 2017).
Round 4, Pick No. 130 overall: The Philadelphia Eagles select TE...Troy Fumagalli
There may not be a team in the NFL who more effectively utilizes multiple tight ends than the Eagles, and they lose veteran Brent Celek and versatile weapon Trey Burton heading into next season. Fumagalli gives the Eagles a dual threat, someone who is a capable blocker and sure-handed in the passing game.
Round 5, Pick No. 173: The Oakland Raiders select... LB Leon Jacobs
While Jacobs is still a bit raw as a linebacker, his athletic profile will intrigue Reggie McKenzie, a disciple of the Al Davis scouting tree by way of Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson. Jacobs ran a blazing 4.48-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but has been of an oversight due to Shaquem Griffin running a 4.38 only a few spots before. Jacobs will play Sam linebacker in Paul Guenther’s 4-3 defense.
Round 6, Pick No. 195: The Los Angeles Rams select... DB Natrell Jamerson
Wade Phillips’s defense is chock-full of big-time names, but the Rams will be looking to develop some young depth behind some of the big-name acquisitions they brought in this offseason. Jamerson, who has played cornerback and safety, will find his way onto the field immediately as a punt gunner, and he also has return experience. His versatility is a great value late on Day 3.
Undrafted Free Agents
EDGE Garret Dooley to the New England Patriots
Dooley reminds Bill Belickick of Rob Ninkovich, who was a pass rusher without a position, and turned himself into a 10-year NFL vet.
FB Austin Ramesh to the Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to Oakland, so they’ll look to replace him with a fullback who the Raiders had in on a visit. Dallas likes to use its fullbacks as ball carriers as well, and Ramesh’s experience as a runner in high school allows him to do that.
DL Conor Sheehy to the Buffalo Bills
Sheehy is the ultimate dirty-work type of defensive lineman, which will remind Bills fans of Kyle Williams. Sheehy is limited athletically, but he’s a blue-collar defensive lineman and will do everything right.
EDGE Alec James to the Seattle Seahawks
James was a man who wore many hats for the Badgers’ defense over the past two seasons, but in Seattle he’ll play base left end and kick into a 4i technique in their ‘under’ fronts. James’ lack of quick0twitch limits him to run downs, but his ability to defend the run helps him out.
CB Derrick Tindal to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A Florida native, Tindal showed out in his final collegiate game in Miami, but ends up in Tampa Bay. Tindal played in the slot in nickel packages in Leonhard’s defense, and that’s where he plays in the NFL due to his lack of size and length on the outside. Tindal is chirpy and scrappy in coverage, and he’ll look to carry that confidence into camp.