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Wisconsin football: projections at 2020 NFL Combine

A number of Badgers are in Indianapolis to be poked, prodded, measured and asked questions before they get drafted. Owen has a breakdown for you!

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oregon vs Wisconsin Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T

Four former Wisconsin Badgers were selected to compete at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, held in Indianapolis.

Running back Jonathan Taylor, wide receiver Quintez Cephus, center Tyler Biadasz and outside linebacker Zack Baun were all picked to showcase their athleticism and sell themselves further to NFL teams through on-field workouts as well as interviews with the teams themselves.

The schedule for this year’s combine is different than in year’s past, as the workouts will be held at prime time, allowing for a bigger viewing audience and of course, more money. Due to the schedule modifications, teams will have fewer visits with players than in previous years (45 instead of 60) but the interviews will be three minutes longer (18 instead of 15).

Three of the Badgers invited have been discussed at some point in the first round conversation, while Quintez Cephus will likely get lost in the shuffle of this prolific class of wide receiver prospects. It’s still to be seen if any of the other three will be taken in the first round, but what they do on the field in Lucas Oil Stadium will go a long way to solidifying it.

Let’s take a look at the players what I they should be shooting for in weigh ins and testing.

RB, Jonathan Taylor

The most prolific rusher through three seasons in NCAA history, Taylor is considered to be among the consensus top 4-5 running backs in this class. His main knock is his “mileage”, given his substantial amount of carries through three seasons at Wisconsin (968 touches in three seasons). However, he’s one of the fastest backs in the class, regardless of size, and that should help him a good amount. Especially for a back his size, I expect Taylor to run in the 4.4s, he had a laser timed 4.42 in high school. If Taylor can look natural in the receiving drills at the combine, and put these numbers up, he should solidify his status as a top 50 pick who could sneak into the late first round.

40 Yard Dash: 4.44 seconds
Vertical Jump: 34 inches
Broad Jump: 10 feet

WR, Quintez Cephus

Cephus’ story is well known at this point, but will likely be his most often-asked question with teams at the combine. On the field, however, I have a feeling the soft-spoken Cephus will let his play do the talking. From videos he’s posted on his Instagram lately, I expect him to look rocked up and impressive in the spandex they have the players wear in Indy. Cephus is by no means a burner, but if he can ran somewhere in the 4.5s, he should be in good shape and set himself up to be selected somewhere early on Day 3. In a lesser receiver class, he likely would have been a third round prospect or better, but simply due to the depth of this class, he’ll fall. I expect him to jump really well, being a former basketball recruit.

Cephus coming in at almost 6’1” and just over 200 pounds is a good start, though he’ll need to catch the ball well in Indy to silence talk about his smaller-than-average hands. If he can put up these numbers, he’ll be in a good spot.

40 Yard Dash: 4.56 seconds
Vertical Jump: 39 inches
Broad Jump: 10 feet 2 inches
Three Cone: 6.95 seconds

OL, Tyler Biadasz

The three year starter at center for the Badgers had first round talk following the 2018 season, but decided to return to Madison to give it another go after a disappointing team campaign. However, for whatever reason, Biadasz didn’t play quite up to the elite level draft analysts became accustomed to this past season, and because of that, it seems his draft stock has taken a tumble. I don’t agree with it, in my opinion he’s still a late first round to early second round prospect who can start early for an NFL team at center or guard. He’s a punisher in the run game who’s good enough in pass pro with the room to continue to improve.

40 Yard Dash: 5.25 seconds
Bench Press: 24 reps
Three Cone: Under 7.4 seconds

Biadasz won’t be confused with any elite athletes, but he’s functionally athletic enough, and if he can show the upper body strength that Wisconsin offensive linemen haven’t typically shown, he should solidify himself as a top 40-50 player.

LB, Zack Baun

A two-year starter at outside linebacker, Zack Baun has shot up draft boards at an extraordinary rate heading towards the Senior Bowl and combine. Saving his best football for last, Baun had 12.5 sacks this season. However, due to his limited size, Baun will certainly be asked to move to off-ball linebacker in the NFL. He was playing the “Will” linebacker position at the Senior Bowl in the Lions’ hybrid defense, but in a 4-3 would also likely play the Will, though that’s an outside position in a 4-3. Baun’s versatility is a big reason why he’s being targeted so high, but moving to a new position at the highest level of football is always a challenge.

Weight: 240
40 Yard Dash: 4.65 seconds
Vertical Jump: 33”
Broad Jump: 9’10”
Bench Press: 20 reps
Three Cone: 7.1 seconds

If Baun can hit these measurables, (he was 240 in Mobile), he should validate those who are putting him near the end of round one in mock drafts. His transition will be interesting to watch, depending on where he ends up. (Updated with Baun’s measurements)