With the 2017 NFL Draft just six weeks away, and the combine in the past, players across the country are looking to their pro days as the last big opportunity to showcase their talent.
Wednesday morning inside the McClain Center was that opportunity for many hopeful Badgers wishing to fulfill lifelong dreams of playing in the NFL.
The morning workout featured an array of talent, but it was headlined by two of Wisconsin’s top prospects — linebackers Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt.
Coming off of an impressive combine performance, Biegel hoped to demonstrate to scouts and coaches his ability to move in the open field. The 6-foot-4-inch, 245 pound senior from Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin looks like he’ll come off the board in day two or three of the draft. But he’s certainly improved his position following his combine and pro day performances.
Watt was also looking to display his athleticism in the open field and put a cap on a successful predraft campaign. Watt came out of the combine just under two weeks ago as one of the top performing linebackers. He ranked in the top two during five of his seven drills, proving himself as a first round talent.
“Yeah, I was confident in my numbers,” Watt said. “Obviously, a lot of hard work went into that. I’ve been a great tester ever since I was a freshman in high school. I’ve been working on the next level, working on that stuff since I was really young, so just going to the combine and getting able to show people what I can do on a big stage like that was really big for me.”
Satisfied with his combine results, Watt focused on more open field drills and had the opportunity to run those drills with two of the best linebacker coaches in the country, NFL legends Kevin Greene and Joey Porter.
“I’m just trying to be a sponge in this whole process and soak up as much information as possible,” Watt said regarding his experience working with the two former linebackers.
Along with Porter, Pittsburgh Steeler’s head coach Mike Tomlin made the trip to Madison, indicating a potential interest in Watt as their first-round selection with the 30th pick.
Overall, Watt is ecstatic about the opportunity he has in front of him and is looking forward to getting back on the field wherever that might be.
“Any team that’s willing to take me, I’m all for it,” Watt said. “I’m willing to play for anybody. I tell these coaches you’re going to have to find a way to get me off the field. I’m gonna try and do it all.”
Men’s hockey: Wisconsin headed to semifinals in Big Ten TournamentThe University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team successfully secured a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament and will face the quarterfinals Read…
On the other side of the ball, running backs Dare Ogunbowale and Corey Clement hoped to prove their worth as a potential late draft selections or walk on talents.
After mediocre performances at the combine, the backfield duo needed a solid performance Wednesday to gain some traction in the minds of NFL scouts.
“I came back from the combine and was so, I don’t know, down on myself,” Clement said. “I was like that’s really not me, a reflection of who I am, what I can run.” Clement said regarding his 40-yard dash performance at the combine.
By the end of the morning both players had improved their 40-yard times and had positive feelings going into the time before the draft.
“Improved on my 40 and my 20-yard shuttle, felt clean and caught the ball during the drills, so I’m very happy,” Ogunbowale said.
Other notable Badgers that took the field included quarterback Bart Houston, wide receiver Robert Wheelwright and defensive backs Sojourn Shelton and Leo Musso. They were all looking for a chance at the next level. Projected first rounder Ryan Ramczyk did not participate in the team’s pro day due to recovery from a recent hip surgery.
April’s draft will feature a host of Badgers early, and some potential day three sleepers, but all that’s left for the players now is to prepare and wait for their name to be called.