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B5Q Roundtable: 2022 NFL Draft discussion

Which Badgers ended up in good spots? Who was the biggest surprise pick of the draft? Will any Badgers be picked high in 2023? Read on!

2022 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

We convened some of the brightest NFL Draft minds on the internet and asked them what they thought about the most recent edition of the NFL’s biggest offseason show. Unfortunately we lost their answers so, instead, we’ve got Kevin, J.J., Owen and Ryan for you. They’re still pretty good!

Which Wisconsin Badgers player ended up in the best situation?

Kevin: Logan Bruss ended up in a nice landing spot when the Rams drafted him with the No. 104 pick. For one, the Rams obviously trust what they are getting in Wisconsin offensive linemen, what with already having Rob Havenstein and David Edwards starting up front for them. Bruss figures to compete immediately for the Rams’ starting right guard spot, but also has the versatility to play tackle if need be.

Ryan: Leo Chenal on the Chiefs is in a decent spot. The Chiefs ranked No. 29 in the NFL last season in sacks and Chenal sure does have a nose for the quarterback, so he is sure to help them move up the ranks in 2022. Kansas City also bolstered their linebacking corps last season with a mid-season trade for Melvin Ingram and it doesn’t look like he will be back in KC again next season, so that is definitely a void Chenal could fill.

J.J.: Jake Ferguson in Dallas feels like a nice fit. While obviously the presence of Dalton Schultz means he won’t start barring injury any time soon, the Cowboys pass enough that he should see the field plenty as a rotational guy. Like Owen said, with all the weapons the Cowboys have on the perimeter I think Ferguson could rack up quite a few catches underneath.

Owen: Jake Ferguson, to me, should very seamlessly assimilate into Dallas’ passing offense and will also contribute in the run game. With all of the attention that teams are going to pay to Ceedee Lamb and Michael Gallup, Ferguson playing TE2 could be more fruitful than you’d think.

Are the Rams the smartest team in the league by trying to turn their offensive line into all Badgers?

Kevin: Based on track record, if you draft an offensive lineman from Wisconsin, there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to end up playing seven-plus years in the league. These are just facts and I applaud the pick by Sean McVay and the Rams.

Ryan: Obviously… Look at the success our running backs have had over the years running behind all of that “beef,” as Jonathan Taylor always referred to it as.

J.J.: They did win the Super Bowl this year, after all. There are worse strategies for offensive line drafting than just writing “big ‘Sconnies” on your whiteboard in block letters.

Owen: Death, Taxes, and Drafting Wisconsin Offensive Linemen. You can’t go wrong!

Which pick in the first round were you most surprised by?

Kevin: Cole Strange is the obvious answer, and as a Pats fan, I was dumbfounded by that selection, but for this exercise I’ll go with the Saints trading up to take Chris Olave at No. 11. Don’t get me wrong, Olave is a great receiver but giving up two additional picks to move up five spots to take him was a head scratcher to me. There’s a decent chance either Treylon Burks or Jahan Dotson would’ve been there with their original No. 16 pick or they could’ve waited to take someone like George Pickens, Skyy Moore or John Metchie III at No. 49 overall. With a draft so deep at wide receiver, that trade didn’t make a ton of sense for me.

Ryan: Detroit trading up 20 picks to draft Jameson Williams. You see teams trade up quite a bit in the draft, but it isn’t often that they jump that many picks. I was also surprised by the picks that didn’t happen - only one QB was taken in the first round and I did not think it would have been Pickett. This is just the second time in the last 20 years that only one QB was taken in the opening round.

2022 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

J.J.: Cole Strange sticks out like a sore thumb, but Jahan Dotson was another interesting pick. I don’t think Dotson’s bad by any means, but I do think he got overdrafted as that run on wide receivers occurred and the Commanders feared he’d be off the board almost immediately if they passed on him at 16. I was also surprised to see Kenny Pickett go in the first round when no other quarterback went before round 3. I don’t see issue with having him as QB1, but I would not have said he was a full two rounds better than any other quarterback on the board.

Owen: I think the pretty clear one was Cole Strange, but for the sake of variety, I’ll say the Lions trading up 20 spots for Jameson Williams. Not a bad surprise, but that’s a big investment for a WR coming off a torn ACL, but he’s a Dan Campbell guy, so I’m with it.

Who was the biggest steal of the draft?

Kevin: Maybe my Big Ten bias is blinding me but I think the Browns getting wide receiver David Bell with the No. 99 pick was an absolute steal. He won’t be as dynamic as some of the wideouts taken in the first round (Wilson, Williams, Burks) but I think Bell can have a 10+ year career as a solid No. 2 receiver. I expect him to fit in nicely across from Amari Cooper in Cleveland and to have multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his career.

Ryan: Kyle Hamilton was a steal at No. 14 overall. While his 40-yard dash time was a bit slower than expected, he was still nothing but a playmaker on the field for Notre Dame. I believe he may have even scored a touchdown the first defensive snap he played as a freshman. The kid is going to be a star.

Apart from Hamilton, I am going to sound like a bit of a homer, but Leo Chenal terrorized QBs throughout his UW career and he was a late third-round pick…? The Chiefs got a phenomenal talent, late in the draft. Lastly, Christian Watson was a big play waiting to happen each time he touched the ball at NDSU. He averaged over 20 yard per reception over his collegiate career and was dangerous in the return game as well. He should make for a valuable target for Aaron Rodgers, in Green Bay. Ope, sorry…that was three.

2022 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

J.J.: I think the Ravens drafted two massive steals with their mid and late first round picks. Kyle Hamilton had an argument as the best player in the draft- and while positional value matters, snapping up a potentially generational prospect at any position at pick 14 is absurd. I thought Tyler Linderbaum was another great snag by Baltimore as well. Linderbaum has been a model of consistency for years now at Iowa and I thought he was one of the best linemen on the board. I can see him being a major boost in the trenches for them from the get go.

Owen: I’m gonna go with Jermaine Johnson. I was very high on him, and thought the Jets should have considered him at No. 10 overall, so for him to fall to 26 before the Jets came back to get him, was a big time value for me.

How do you think your favorite team did in the NFL Draft?

Kevin: The draft is always interesting as a Pats fan. It’s hard to be too critical with the track record of success but I wasn’t the biggest fan of what they did. While guard was a position of need, taking Strange at No. 29 with so many playmakers left on the board was disappointing. I like the player, but we could’ve gotten him in the second or third round. The most frustrating thing was not leaving this draft with a young, athletic linebacker. After getting torched all over the field by Josh Allen and the Bills in the playoffs, it’s surprising to me that the Patriots didn’t even address that position in this draft.

Ryan: I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed when Green Bay did not draft Christian Watson in the first round. He was the guy that I saw as a feasible option for Green Bay given where their picks were, so seeing them pass on him made me lose a little faith in the front office, but then Green Bay traded up to pick Watson in the second round and restored my faith in them. Adding two of the players from the NCAA champion and SECOND-BEST collegiate defense from a year ago in the first round should help the Packers defense improve.

J.J.: The Giants first round was an A+. If you had asked me my dream scenario for picks No. 5 and No. 7 the morning of the draft I would have told you they’d pick up Evan Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux. It’s not every year you get to fill possibly your two biggest positions of need with a pair of players who at points of the cycle were projected to be the number one overall pick. Past that I thought the Giants did fine- I don’t think they knocked any single pick after the first round out of the park per say, but they stayed focused on their needs and shrewdly traded back a couple times to pick up more capital as well.

Owen: I thought the Packers drafted well(!). They added a lot of bodies to positions of need - three wide receivers, three offensive linemen. They drafted a couple of guys as well that should fill and improve some special teams holes, which is still a sore subject in Green Bay.

Looking way ahead…who do you like from the Badgers to get drafted next year?

Kevin: I think Nick Herbig has a monster year and ends up as an early round pick for a team in need of a pass rusher. He’s still pretty raw, but he showed some serious potential off the edge last year. With another year in the weight room, I predict Herbig grabs All-Big Ten honors and gets selected somewhere on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Ryan: Keeanu Benton seems like a lock to me and a potential first or second rounder. Apart from Benton, in looking at our senior class, Isaiah Mullens may have an outside chance, as could Tyler Beach and even Andy Vujnovich (punters can be drafted too). It is also possible that Herbig could have a huge junior season and make the jump like Chenal did.

Iowa v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

J.J.: Keeanu Benton is prospect 1A as of right now, and I think there’s a pretty solid gap between him and anyone else. Vujnovich might be a solid mid to late round pickup for a team looking to boost their punting. But 2023 will likely be the better year for Badgers in the draft. Allen will obviously headline that class, but I could see Dike, Herbig, or even Mertz all getting some serious NFL looks.

Owen: Keeanu Benton should be the highest drafted, and honestly he’s the only bonafide NFL prospect for next year’s class on the roster right now. Theoretically Mertz, Allen, Dike, maybe Jack Nelson and Nick Herbig the following year, but as of next year, it’ll be a trim class.