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New York Giants select Wisconsin LB Ryan Connelly in fifth round of 2019 NFL Draft

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Another walk-on in the NFL? You don’t say.

Matt Fleming

In the fifth round with the 143rd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Wisconsin Badgers linebacker on Ryan Connelly on Saturday.

The Eden Prairie, Minn., native came to Wisconsin as an unheralded walk-on but stepped up in the 2016 season opener against LSU when starter Chris Orr went down due to injury. He further solidified himself for his last three seasons in Madison thereafter, recording 251 tackles, 29 for loss in 52 career games (26 starts).

In 2017, Connelly led the team in tackles (88) and recorded 11 tackles for loss for a defensive unit that ranked in the top 3 in the nation in four categories: pass efficiency defense (No. 1, 96.4 rating), total defense (No. 2, 262.1 yards per contest), scoring and rushing defense (both No. 3 at 13.9 points and 98.4 yards per contest, respectively).

Last season, Connelly started 12 games and was named a team captain in his final year at UW. As Connelly told B5Q in late February, he also fought through an injury that ultimately resulted in his abdominal muscles being torn off his pubic bone.

Despite missing the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl, he still finished second on the team in tackles (89) while also tallying double-digits in stops behind the line of scrimmage once again (10). He claimed third-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches, an all-conference honorable mention by the media.

Connelly participated in the 2019 NFL Combine as well as Wisconsin’s pro day in March.

Connelly becomes the second Badger to be selected in this year’s draft, joining offensive lineman Michael Deiter, who went in the third round to the Miami Dolphins.

Other former Wisconsin linebackers drafted in recent memory include Jack Cichy and Leon Jacobs (2018), T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel (2017), Joe Schobert (2016), and Chris Borland (2014).

Among other former walk-ons who have been drafted include Cichy and Troy Fumagalli (2018), Schobert (2016), Jared Abbrederis (2014), Rick Wagner (2013) and Bradie Ewing (2012).