Now that the NFL Draft is over and grades have been handed out by every outlet you can imagine, it’s time to take a more Wisconsin-focused look at what happened over the weekend.
The Badgers had four players drafted during the three-day event and then had one player, so far, sign as an undrafted free agent. This wasn’t the most impressive haul in terms of players picked, but three of the four have pretty direct paths to immediate playing time.
Drew, Belz, Owen and Ryan sat down at their respective laptops and discussed how they thought the draft went for the Badgers, Packers and the rest of the NFL.
Which former Badger ended up in the best position to contribute early for their new NFL team?
Ryan: Zack Baun. His intelligence, athletic ability and nose for the ball will help him a lot in his rookie campaign to get time on the field. If NOLA rushes him on the opposite side of the line from Cam Jordan, the two could cause trouble for opposing QBs and if they rush him on the same side as Jordan, it will be very hard for the offense to stop.
Belz: I really like the fit for Tyler Biadasz. He should have a chance to compete for reps right away at center in Dallas after Travis Frederick hung up his cleats. I think Jonathan Taylor will also get carries in Indianapolis, where they have a great offensive line to run behind.
Owen: I’m going to go with Jonathan Taylor. Frank Reich has shown the willingness to just bludgeon the opposition into submission, and with Quenton Nelson on your team, that’s not out of the ordinary. He should do really well there.
Drew: The Colts subscribe to a similar “run the damn ball” philosophy as the Badgers and Jonathan Taylor should slot right into the backup running back position for them, so I’d imagine he’ll be contributing right off the bat.
What sort of stats do you see Jonathan Taylor compiling in his rookie season with the Colts?
Ryan: It’s hard to say what sort of numbers he will put up, with Indy already having a 1,000 rusher in Marlon Mack, but I still think JT gets his. I think the two will complement one another well and JT’s increased role in the passing game should help him a lot, as Mack only caught 14 passes in 2019 and Indy has a new QB that likes to sling the ball a lot in Phillip Rivers. With the likelihood of limited activities going on this summer, I think it will take a couple of weeks of the regular season for either JT or Mack to take on the role of bellwether back.
Belz: I think Taylor will run for over 500 yards as a rookie. Like Ryan said, I think he and Mack will both see carries behind one of the better lines in the NFL. I think if Taylor can prove early on that he can pass block his role could be even bigger in year one.
Owen: I can see Taylor becoming the featured member of the backfield, though still splitting carries with Marlon Mack, who has been up and down during his time in Indianapolis. Likely somewhere in the ballpark of 750 yards or so. Heading into year two, I’d fully expect Taylor to be the featured back for the Colts.
Drew: Unless Mack gets hurt, Taylor isn’t going to be seeing more than 130 or so carries, but he will average over four yards a pop on those carries. I bet Taylor rushes for 600+ yards, seven touchdowns and shows promise catching the ball from Mr. Rivers. If Taylor proves to be an adept blocker in pass protection he’ll get even more playing time.
How is Jerry Jones the same guy who wanted to draft Johnny Manziel but also the guy who knows to draft Wisconsin centers whenever he needs one?
Ryan: Even crazy people know that if you want a lineman of any kind, you look to the UW.
Belz: Luck of the draw and convenience I suppose. He was able to find Frederick’s likely replacement from another proven guy like Biadasz who fell into his lap in the fourth round.
Owen: “I may be dumb but I’m not stupid” is the quote that comes to mind in this instance. Jones can’t help but be drawn to the flashing lights and shiny things like star players, but knows the importance the offensive line has had for the Cowboys.
Drew: I can’t believe the Eagles traded the Cowboys the pick then used to draft Biadasz. Even the owner of the SS Cocaine super yacht wasn’t crazy enough to screw that up.
What are your final thoughts on the Packers draft? Will they even throw the ball 10 times a game this year?
Ryan: I just… I don’t know. They used their first two picks in the draft to take players in the position of their greatest strengths. I would have loved to see them take a wide receiver *cough* Quintez Cephus *cough* but I guess they have Adams, Lazard, MVS, Funchess and St. Brown, who should all contribute. I liked that they took some lineman late in the draft to solidify things up front for the Aarons.
Belz: It is very apparent how LaFleur envisions his offense to look moving forward. I actually like the A.J. Dillon pick to pair with Aaron Jones, and the bolstering of the offensive line later in the draft. I would have liked to add another wide receiver at some point, but everyone else cleaned up at the position right before the Packers went. I am still not sold on the first pick of Love due to the reasons I laid out in our first roundtable though, especially with the loss of a fourth round pick.
Overall it was ok, but I would have been much happier if the first round pick would have been a WR or a guy like Grant Delpit to help out the defense instead. The Packers are going to be running the ball a lot, which I am not against.
Owen: I think it’s very clear that this draft didn’t go as the Packers had envisioned it. They were seemingly poached of the WRs they wanted at almost every pick (Aiyuk, Mims, Peoples-Jones), but had to make the most of what they were presented.
I think it’s also very clear that year two with LaFleur will look different than year one did, and the longer he’s in Green Bay the more this roster will resemble what he’s looking for his team to look like.
Drew: I kind of like when a coach and a team decide on what they want to be and then go out and get the players they think will help them be the best version of that. LaFleur is building the team he wants and soon we’ll see if it is the right decision. As a man who once fully supported Chip Kelly and whatever the shit he was trying to do in Philadelphia, I see no way things go south in a hurry in Green Bay.
Which team had the best draft (Owen, you can’t say the Ravens)?
Ryan: San Francisco. Javon Kinlaw is an absolute animal on the defensive line and Brandon Aiyuk should be a solid receiver. They also landed Trent Williams in a trade during the draft for a 5th round pick and a pick in 2021, which is a steal and they will get a 7-time Pro Bowler to replace Joe Staley.
Belz: Outside of the Ravens, I really liked what the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars did as well. We will see how long it takes for Jacksonville to screw this up, but their draft laid out really nicely in my eyes.
Owen: THE RAVE - ::is knocked out with a tranquilizer:: I think the Cowboys and the Broncos both did really good jobs in this draft getting better. The Dolphins also had an excellent draft building the team they’re looking to be.
Drew: Maybe I’ve been living here too long already and my brain has been poisoned, but the Vikings had a really good draft. LSU WR Justin Jefferson is as plug and play as a first round pick can get, especially after the Vikes lost Stefon Diggs this offseason. I won’t pretend to know anything about their other first round pick, TCU CB Jeff Gladney, but people smarter than I liked it.
They also made some good picks, of which they had dozens it seemed, later in the draft. LB Troy Dye out of Oregon, if he is healthy, is a steal. MSU DE Kenny Willekes could be a great rotational d-lineman early in his career. Iowa QB Nate Stanley blows, but ya can’t win ‘em all. It’s doubly disappointing that the Vikings had a good draft when every draft analyst suggests that the Packers had a bad one.
Any rookies you’d target in your fantasy football draft this year?
Ryan: So many receivers. Justin Jefferson sticks out. He’s got great speed, and will have a QB that likes to air it out and he will be filling a big void, left by Stefon Diggs. CeeDee Lamb should also have a good season, playing opposite Amari Cooper and he already displayed quick hands, snatching his phone away from his girlfriend. I will also give JT and Quintez Cephus a look as well.
Belz: Joe Burrow is a guy to take a late flyer on potentially, and then De’Andre Swift for the Lions is a guy to really look out for. The Lions have struggled to find a running back to lean on, and Swift can do it in both the running and passing game. He could be a guy to watch just simply because of usage.
Owen: Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy and Brandon Aiyuk all should cook in their new offenses.
Drew: Like Ryan said, Lamb should be a pretty immediate fantasy relevant player. Rookie quarterbacks are tough to judge but Burrow or Tua Tagovialoa are good stashes if you are in a keeper league.
My super sneaky steal of a pick in fantasy would be new New Orleans TE Adam Trautman. The former Dayton Flyer is a pass catching machine and if he can snag the backup tight end job he’ll be a favorite target of Drew Brees in the red zone.