Wisconsin defensive tackle J.J. Watt (99) is seen before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
After a banner year for the Wisconsin Badgers football team, which came oh so close to a win in the Rose Bowl, a number of players are now looking to the next level. Six players, in my opinion, at least have a chance of getting drafted when then NFL Draft kicks off on April 28th. Here’s a breakdown of where I think they might land.
J.J. Watt – Defensive End:
What a player. There’s not a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want a player like J.J. His motor is endless, yet he’s not just a motor guy. He’s talented, he’s smart, and he has a nose for the football. He just seems to be a part of every play. Whether he’s knocking down a pass, sacking the quarterback, or even blocking a kick, Watt was one of the biggest impact defensive players in the country.
Projection: 1st Round, 18th overall, to the San Diego Chargers
Gabe Carimi – Offensive Lineman:
One of the best offensive linemen in the country. The 2010 AP All-American and Outland Trophy winner (best offensive lineman in the country), was probably the best pass blocking lineman in the country. He’s big, strong, and maybe most importantly, athletic. And just like his defensive counterpart Watt, Carimi is incredibly smart both on the field and in the classroom. He likely won’t be the first or second offensive lineman taken, but you can count on Carimi being a staple of any offensive line for the next 10 years.
Projection: 1st Round, 22nd overall, to the Indianapolis Colts
Lance Kendricks – Tight End:
One word. SLEEPER! Comes from a long line of great Badgers tight ends over the last five years including Travis Beckum (Giants) and Garrett Graham (Texans). The 2nd -team All-American has had a number of injury problems but his talent is unquestionable. Had the Badgers been more of a pass-friendly offense, Kendricks could’ve been the top tight end in the country. Needs to become a little better blocker to be a good pro, but the guy can get open and has great hands. He’ll probably drop further in the draft than he should, but whoever takes a chance on him won’t be sorry.
Projection: 3rd round, 80th overall, to the Jacksonville Jaguars
John Moffitt – Offensive Lineman:
Joined his offensive lineman counterpart Gabe Carimi on the 1st-team All-American list. He’s not nearly as athletic as Carimi, but don’t sleep on how quick this 314-pound beast can be. He started 42 of 45 games in a Badgers uniform and is poised to start for a very long time in the NFL. The only thing that drops Moffitt in this draft is that athleticism. Is he gonna be able to hang with the top-tier defensive linemen play after play in the NFL? Probably not right now, but give him some time. Moffitt, like the rest of his Badgers teammates, is a very smart and coachable player. Let’s see what a little time in the league can do for him. I think he could be a steal in the fourth round.
Projection: 4th round, 131st overall, to the Green Bay Packers
Scott Tolzien – Quarterback:
Tolzien is a tough one. You want to think there is potential for him in the NFL, and there very well may be. But right now he’s nothing more than a backup. Tolzien obviously played in a very run-oriented offense at Wisconsin, so it will be interesting to see how he responds in a more balanced attack. Tolzien can play from under center as well as in the shotgun. He’s a tough kid that’s willing to take a hit, unfortunately his courage is not always rewarded. His mediocre arm-strength is definitely a cause for concern. He just seemed to make too many unforced errors, even when things appeared to be rolling at times. I do think he gets drafted though, and I strongly believe he can make a roster. Let’s give him a few years, you never know with a guy like Scott, you just never know.
Projection: 6th round, 199th overall, to the Kansas City Chiefs
John Clay – Running Back:
Oh what could’ve been for John Clay. It’s not how we all expected it to end for the bruising running back. Arguably one of the best backs in program history, leaves the Badgers quietly after his junior season for the NFL. If Clay is at any other school he probably returns for his senior season. But with the emergence of Montee Ball and James White, the John Clay era in Madison rightfully came to and end. He would share carries and probably have his draft stock fall even further than it has. But, that’s not to say I’ve given up on Clay. I still think there’s some potential and a fresh start in the right situation could be a game-changer. He’s still a darn good back and has some size and athleticism to make defenders think. But there are obviously some questions. Can he stay healthy? Can he stay committed? I hope he can, because big John can still be a player, I have no doubts.
Projection: Undrafted free agent
Here’s a look at my 2011 NFL Mock Draft.
Here’s a look at a Badgers Photo Gallery.