The Wisconsin Badgers have three former players in the 2023 NFL Combine.
Center Joe Tippmann, edge Nick Herbig, and defensive tackle Keeanu Benton all have opportunities to shine ahead of the draft and potentially increase their draft stock.
Let’s take a look at how each player is projected ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft:
Joe Tippmann, Center
Tippmann started 23 games for the Badgers which included every game this past season. He was voted an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten player and he allowed just one sack and five pressures over 338 pass-blocking snaps this season.
He was given a 6.35 prospect grade according to nfl.com and is projected to eventually be a “plus” starter in the future.
He is currently being projected as a second-round pick in the draft, but some experts have him going in the third round as well.
NFL analyst, Lance Zierlein, gave this analysis on Tippmann:
“Two-year starter with the weight room strength and athleticism for work in a variety of run schemes. Tippmann is taller than your average center, but he can bend enough to neutralize at the point of attack. He’s a fluid move blocker who can make wide pulls, climbing cut-offs and adjustments to moving targets in space. He’s recognized for his football intelligence in the pivot and is an effective communicator. He needs to play with better posture and tighter hands to stay mirrored in protection and to improve his body control through engagement. Tippmann’s size, strength, smarts and athleticism should help him become a starter in the NFL.”
Nick Herbig, Linebacker
Nick Herbig made 31 starts for the Badgers over the last three seasons. Herbig was voted First-Team All-Big Ten and AP Third-Team All-American as a junior. He shined as a junior with 11 sacks and 15.5 TFLs.
He was given a 6.23 prospect grade and is projected to eventually be an “average” starter in the NFL according to nfl.com.
Herbig is currently being projected as a third or fourth-round pick in the draft, but could potentially drop to Day 3 in rounds 6 or 7.
NFL analyst, Lance Zierlein, gave his analysis on Herbig:
“A three-year starter as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Herbig is lacking in size and strength but possesses plenty of athleticism and potential. He can be a slippery rusher with subtle hands and a wicked inside move that leaves tackles in the mud. His lack of play strength limits his speed-to-power rush and his ability to stand his ground against tackles looking to widen him off the mark. He would benefit from a year in the weight room to get ready for NFL edge work, but he might have the instincts and athletic ability for consideration as an off-ball linebacker.”
Keeanu Benton, Defensive Tackle
Benton made 36 starts for the Badgers over four seasons and was voted All-Big Ten third team this past season. Benton had 36 tackles, 10 TFLs, and 4.5 sacks this season for the Badgers and was a disruptive force on the line.
Benton was given a 6.19 prospect grade and is projected to be a good backup with the potential to develop into a starter according to nfl.com.
He is currently being projected as a second-round pick in the NFL draft, and he recently shined in the Senior Bowl which brought him national media attention and most definitely boosted his draft stock.
NFL analyst, Lance Zierlein, gave his analysis on Benton:
“Benton is a powerful interior defensive lineman with size and persistence. He lacks the early rep explosiveness needed to get decisive wins at the point of attack on the pro level, though. Block engagements become drawn-out brawls at times, but he does a nice job of defeating block sustains and often finds himself near the play. He lacks a wide base and sturdy anchor, so he’ll need to improve his pad level to prevent double teams from moving him around too easily. He’s solid but needs to become a more consistently impactful force in the middle to make noise as an NFL starter.”