Despite 2018 being what some in the Badgers’ program may consider a “down” season, Taiwan Deal made the absolute most of his opportunity. Deal came to Wisconsin with a bit of hype stemming from his prep career. The 2013 Gatorade Maryland high school player of the year was a star at powerhouse DeMatha Catholic, and he came to Madison with big expectation placed upon him.
Things started well for the powerful runner, rushing for 503 yards and six touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. After an injury-hampered season in 2016, he missed 2017 entirely due to injuries. Finally healthy in 2018, Deal returned to form in his opportunities, rushing for 545 yards and six touchdowns on only 82 carries. His 6.6 yards per carry was a career high, and Deal proved to be a suitable complement for Jonathan Taylor.
A great opportunity for value picks is RB that are stuck behind another talented runner, like when UDFA Priest Holmes backed-up Ricky Williams at Texas. @BadgerFootball has that situation this year with RB #28 @Taiwan_Deal stuck behind soph Jonathan Taylor. He’s on NFL radars. pic.twitter.com/cGx5AwwIaq— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) November 3, 2018
Weight: 221 pounds
40 Yard Dash: N/A
Vertical Jump: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A
Short Shuttle: N/A
Three Cone: N/A
Bench Press: 24 reps*
*Listed height and weight taken from 2018 Wisconsin roster; Deal only performed the bench press at Wisconsin’s pro day.
Strengths: Deal is a tough back that looks like an NFL back. Well-proportioned frame. Big back who runs behind his pads and exhibits good leg drive after contact. Shows vision at both the first and second level. Has experience in both zone and gap running schemes. Still has a lot of tread on the proverbial tires.
Weaknesses: Injury history is concerning at best. History of lower body injuries does not bode well for bigger backs. Not slow but is not going to pull away from NFL defenses. Much more linear as a runner, has yet to show much wiggle. Was taken off of the field on most third downs, not much experience as a pass blocker or in the receiving game. Only three career catches.
Summary: Deal had a satisfying ending to his collegiate career, but it will be interesting to see how much of a pro career he could have. He is a power back with limited burst and little to no experience in the pass game. That’s certainly not to say he’s incapable of contributing in that area. Corey Clement was rarely asked to be a pass protector or receiver. I think Deal’s optimal situation is as a power/change of pace back in a running back by committee situation.
Round Projection: 7th round-Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA)