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Badgers in the NFL: Season Outlook

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It’s opening night for the 2020 NFL season, let’s take a look at what we can expect from former Badgers in the league

Denver Broncos Training Camp Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The NFL season is finally here! Now that 53-man rosters are finalized and pro football is actually going to happen, let’s check in on which former Badgers will be playing and what we can expect from them this year.

  • Russell Wilson, QB (Seahawks): Wilson once again enters the season as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback and is ready for another huge season. Entering his ninth season in Seattle, Wilson has solidified himself as one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league, as well as the unquestioned leader of a Seahawks team with Super Bowl aspirations. He is currently third in the NFL MVP odds, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
  • James White, RB (Patriots): The former Super Bowl hero enters the season as New England’s most reliable running back. With quarterback Cam Newton still adjusting to a new offense, the team will rely heavily on White in the passing game. White has finished with 50+ receptions in four straight years and with a shaky backfield in New England he could have the best season of his career in 2020.
  • Melvin Gordon, RB (Broncos): After a failed holdout with the Chargers last season, Gordon was finally paid (although not nearly as much as he’d hoped) and signed a two-year $16 million contract with the Broncos. He’ll share carries with third-year running back Phillip Lindsay, but Gordon expects to be a big part of a Denver offense that should improve in quarterback Drew Lock’s second season.
  • Corey Clement, RB (Eagles): Clement made the Eagles’ 53-man roster thanks to his prowess on special teams. The four year pro, who was forced to miss 12 games last season with a shoulder injury, will also serve as Philly’s third string running back.
  • Dare Ogunbowale, RB (Jaguars): Ogunbowale was cut by the Bucs last weekend, but has found a new home after signing with the Jaguars yesterday. The Jags have a crowded, but unproven backfield and Chris Thompson figures to be the main third down running back. However, Ogunbowale showed flashes as a pass catching back last season with Tampa and will likely play a ton of special teams snaps for the Jaguars.
  • Derek Watt, FB (Steelers): Watt joined his brother T.J. in Pittsburgh this offseason and will be the Steelers’ starting fullback.
  • Alec Ingold, FB (Raiders): Entering his second season, Ingold is listed as the starting fullback for the Raiders.
  • Ryan Ramczyk, OT (Saints): Ramczyk will be the starting right tackle for the Saints for the third straight year. A first team All-Pro last season, Ramczyk is poised for another dominant season in New Orleans.
  • Rick Wagner, OT (Packers): The eight year veteran, joined the Packers in the offseason after spending the past three seasons as the starting right tackle for the Lions. He is currently listed as the back up behind Billy Turner on the Packers’ depth chart. However, with Turner not practicing this week due to a knee injury, Wagner could be in line to start at right tackle in Week 1.
  • Rob Havenstein, OT (Rams): Havenstein was hampered by a knee injury that forced him to miss seven games last year and will look to have a bounce back season for the Rams in 2020. He is currently listed as the starting right tackle for a Rams team that is looking to return to the offensive production they had two years ago when they were second in the NFL in total yards and scoring.
  • Kevin Zeitler, OG (Giants): Zeitler is as consistent as it gets. The nine year veteran returns as the Giants’ starting right guard and has missed just one game in the past five seasons. Zeitler will be a key cog up front for the Giants and pave the way for star running back Saquon Barkley.
  • David Edwards, OG (Rams): Edwards begins his second season in the NFL as the backup right guard for the Rams. The former fifth round pick started 10 games last season and is a valuable depth piece up front.
NFL: SEP 15 Saints at Rams
  • Michael Deiter, OG (Dolphins): The former third round pick had a shaky rookie season at guard last season for the Dolphins. He has been moved to center for 2020 where he will serve as the backup to veteran Ted Karras.
  • Beau Benzschawel, OG (Lions): Benzschawel was cut by Detroit on Saturday, but the Lions liked him enough to bring him back on their practice squad.
  • Ryan Groy, C (Chargers): The seven year veteran did not make the Chargers’ 53-man roster, but was signed to their practice squad.
  • Alex Erickson, WR (Bengals): The former walk-on had his best season as a pro in 2019, finishing with 43 receptions and 529 receiving yards. However, with the return of a healthy A.J. Green and the draft selection of Tee Higgins in the second round, Erickson is unlikely to see many snaps at wide out. Erickson’s value comes on special teams where he is listed as the starting punt returner for a Bengals team that is looking to improve on their league worst 2-14 record last year.
  • J.J. Watt, DE (Texans): Watt enters the 2020 season fully healthy and is ready for another dominant season in Houston. He was forced to miss eight games last season due to a torn pectoral, before returning for the Texans’ playoff win over the Bills. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year is one of the most imposing players in the league when healthy, but has been forced to miss 32 of the Texans’ last 64 regular season games due to injuries.
  • Joe Schobert, LB (Jaguars): Schobert was one of the most underrated defensive players in the league his first four seasons with the Browns and has finished with 100+ tackles in three straight seasons. The former walk-on earned himself a five-year $53.75 million contract from the Jaguars in the offseason and will start at middle linebacker in the Jags’ 4-3 defensive scheme.
Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
  • T.J. Watt, LB (Steelers): Watt nearly won Defensive Player of the Year last season and finished with 14.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles. He will once again be one of the best pass rushers in the league this season for a Steelers team with playoff aspirations.
  • Leon Jacobs, LB (Jaguars): Entering his third season with the Jags, Jacobs is listed as the starter at strong side linebacker for Week 1. Last season, he was often taken off the field when Jacksonville would lineup in nickel packages, but nonetheless Jacobs is an important player for defensive coordinator Todd Wash’s defense.
  • Ryan Connelly, LB (Vikings): Connelly was a surprise cut by the Giants over the weekend, but the Vikings quickly claimed him off waivers. After a torn ACL ended his rookie season early, the former walk-on is looking to make a name for himself in his second year in the league.
  • Jack Cichy, LB (Buccaneers): Cichy has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons and was forced to miss 12 games in the 2019 campaign due to an elbow injury. Cichy impressed Tampa Bay’s coaching staff enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster and should be a consistent special teams contributor this season for an improved Bucs team.
  • T.J. Edwards, LB (Eagles): Edwards has a great opportunity to take the next step in his sophomore campaign and is listed as the starter at middle linebacker for the Eagles. After going undrafted in 2019, Edwards played in all 16 games as a rookie, including 4 starts.
  • Andrew Van Ginkel, LB (Dolphins): Van Ginkel is listed as a backup outside linebacker on the Dolphins’ Week 1 depth chart. After the news that fellow Badger Vince Biegel would miss the 2020 season with an Achilles injury, there are plenty of snaps up for grabs as the Dolphins continue to search for difference makers at linebacker to replace Biegel.
  • Natrell Jamerson, DB (Panthers): Jamerson did not make the Panthers’ 53-man roster, however he was signed to the practice squad.
  • D’Cota Dixon, S (Buccaneers): Dixon was cut over the weekend, but Tampa Bay liked him enough to sign him to their practice squad.

Rookies

  • Jonathan Taylor, RB (Colts): Everything is in place for Taylor to have a monster rookie season for the Colts. We all saw how talented a runner Taylor was while at Wisconsin, and with one of the league’s best offensive lines paving the way, the second round pick should be in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
  • Quintez Cephus, WR (Lions): The fifth round pick made the Lions’ 53-man roster and is listed as the backup to wide receiver Kenny Golladay on the depth chart. Playing in a pass-heavy offense in Detroit, Cephus could have a surprisingly productive rookie season if any of the Lions’ starting pass catchers get banged up.
  • Tyler Biadasz, C (Cowboys): Biadasz will open his rookie season as the backup center in Dallas. The Cowboys have opted to go with veteran Joe Looney as the starter.
  • Zack Baun, LB (Saints): Baun was forced to miss multiple training camp practices due to an unspecified injury, which is at least partly why he is listed as the back up at strong side linebacker. It is unclear if Baun will be able to play in Week 1, but it’s only a matter of time until the third round pick sees the field for the Saints.
  • Chris Orr, LB (Panthers): After not making the Panthers’ 53-man roster over the weekend, Carolina resigned Orr to their practice squad.