The 2020 NFL Draft is in the rear view mirror. You can catch all of our coverage of the draft and the various former Wisconsin Badgers who were picked/signed right here. But we aren’t here to talk about the past. We are here to make wild and speculative guesses about the future!
Going back to last year at this time, one would have been pretty safe in betting that Jonathan Taylor and Tyler Biadasz would be selected in the 2020 draft. Zack Baun and Quintez Cephus, on the other hand, would have garnered some quizzical looks if you suggested them as NFL draft picks.
What we are trying to say is...no one really knows who will be drafted next year. Will Clemson’s QB Trevor Lawrence and Oregon’s OT Penei Sewell get picked? Yeah, duh, of course they will. But there are always surprises that thrust themselves into the conversation during the season (which we are clearly assuming is happening for the purposes of this post) and get picked higher than the experts thought.
While looking around the ol’ world wide web a few names appeared at the top of everyone’s projections for the 2021 draft: Lawrence and Sewell were there as were Miami DE Gregory Rousseau, Ohio State QB Justin Fields, LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase and a host of Alabama and Clemson players.
I didn’t see a single Badgers player projected in the first round, which was to be expected, but that doesn’t mean that multiple Wisconsin alums won’t get picked. Let’s take a look at the five most likely Badgers to be selected in the next NFL Draft.
Cole Van Lanen, OT, redshirt senior, 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, Green Bay
Van Lanen is a player who probably could have declared for the 2020 draft and been selected, but he decided to return to school to anchor the next iteration of the Wisconsin offensive line.
He is probably the only player (right now) who I could see being selected in the first round. He would need to have a dominant season and be in the discussion for first-team all-B1G, but he has the talent to do it.
Jake Ferguson, TE, redshirt junior, 6-foot-5, 246 pounds, Madison
Ok, I lied. If Ferguson has a monster year and wins the Mackey Award he could potentially be a first round pick too. That probably won’t happen, but Ferguson is a definite candidate to leave school early and find a home on an NFL roster.
Ferguson has ideal size for a modern tight end and has 69 (nice) career catches for 863 yards and six touchdowns. While he wasn’t known for his blocking coming out of high school, he has improved on that front and presumably he’ll only get better at it with another year in Madison.
Logan Bruss, OT, redshirt junior, 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Appleton
Bruss will start opposite Van Lanen and form a talented tackle combo this season, but his NFL future probably resides in the interior part of the offensive line. The Badgers value versatility along the offensive line and NFL coaches will like to see that as well.
Bruss could be a nice developmental pick for a team looking for cheap, cost controlled offensive line depth. When in doubt picking a large person from the state of Wisconsin works out pretty well for NFL teams.
Isaiahh Loudermilk, DE, redshirt senior, 6-foot-7, 293 pounds, Howard, Kansas
Loudermilk finally played a full season in 2019 and was the disruptive force that the Badgers hoped he could be. He had four passes defended (see below) and two forced fumbles while also sacking the quarterback three times and adding 24 total tackles (five for loss).
Loudermilk possesses magnificent size and doesn’t sacrifice agility. He won’t rack up a crazy amount of counting stats, but he is an integral part of making sure the Wisconsin defense plays at a high level.
Jack Sanborn, ILB, junior, 6-foot-2, 232 pounds, Deer Park, Ill.
As as sophomore in 2019, Sanborn led the team in tackles (80) and interceptions (three) from his ILB position. He was overshadowed a bit by Chris Orr and Zack Baun, two players who are now in the NFL natch, but he should step into the limelight in 2020 for his junior year.
Sanborn seems like the kind of guy who might want to stick around for four years, especially since his younger brother is a part of the 2021 recruiting class, but if he has another huge year and is projected to go on Day 2 of the draft, he’d have to think long and hard about going pro.
Others to consider: DE Garrett Rand, S Eric Burrell, LB Noah Burks, WR Danny Davis III, QB Jack Coan, LS Adam Bay