The University of Wisconsin held their NFL Pro Day March 13, as scouts from around the league came to watch Badger prospects showcase themselves for April’s draft.
A total of 15 recently-graduated Wisconsin players participated in the festivities after eight were invited to last month’s Combine.
Those players were David Edwards, Beau Benzschawel, Michael Dieter, D’Cota Dixon, T.J. Edwards, Ryan Connelly, Andrew Van Ginkel, Alec Ingold, Zander Neuville, Taiwan Deal, Olive Sagapolu, Rachid Ibrahim, Serge Trezy, Micah Kapoi and Chris James.
For some, the pro day was an opportunity to receive NFL exposure after not attending the Combine.
For others, the pro day was an opportunity to improve on the numbers posted at the Combine, or withhold from drills in order to show confidence in their combine performance.
Let’s look at how some players performed at the two showcases, and how their draft stock might be affected as a result.
OL David Edwards
Edwards’ Combine numbers did not line up with his current second-round draft prediction. The 6-foot-6, 308-pound lineman ranked 24th or lower out of all offensive lineman in every drill but one, the 3-cone drill where he placed 11th.
Edwards only participated in the bench press during Wednesday’s pro day where he recorded 16 reps, a low number for an offensive lineman.
While the combine and pro day do not shape players’ draft stock alone, but there’s a chance his performance could hurt his stock come draft time.
OL Beau Benzschawel
Benzschawel, like Edwards, is highly rated going into draft season.
He is the highest rated guard in the draft class and is projected to be drafted as high as the late second round or early third round.
Also like Edwards, Benzschawel didn’t impress at the Combine. Out of all the offensive lineman present, he placed 40th on the bench press with 20 reps and 28th in the 40-yard dash at 5.24 seconds.
At the pro day, Benzschawel filled the holes he left open at the combine by doing the vertical and broad jumps. His numbers of 26.5 inches and 98.25 inches respectively did not crack the top-20 of numbers produced by his position at the combine.
But, again, established lineman like Edwards and Benzschawel do most of their talking through their production on the field and in the film room.
OL Michael Dieter
Dieter sits directly behind his teammate Benzschawel as the 2nd ranked offensive guard entering the draft.
Like Benzschawel, Dieter’s Combine didn’t exactly help his current 5th round draft stock. He placed lower than 20th out of all offensive linemen in the bench press, 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.
“I think it’s comforting and it makes it that much more fun,” Deiter said about the possibility of three Wisconsin offensive linemen being drafted. “Although its all a little bit new, its still football and you’re doing it with your friends.”
FB Alec Ingold
Going into the NFL Combine and looking at the NFL gameplay — one that has seen the fullback position die out — Ingold was the only fullback to be invited to the Combine.
In being tested and compared against true running backs, Ingold saw his invitation as an opening he needed to take advantage of.
“I want to be a good enough football player where teams will think ‘maybe we need [a fullback]’ so I can be that guy for those teams,” Ingold said.
Ingold technically ranked last in his 4.89 40-yard dash time among running backs, he recorded 16 reps on bench press, good for 21st out of 26 who participated and had a vertical of 34 inches, landing the 14th spot.
While these numbers are hard to compare to other running backs in the draft, Ingold’s main attraction will come from his film and team workouts.
Ingold did not participate in any testing during pro day.
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S D’Cota Dixon
Dixon has bounced around mock draft boards all year, being shown on some boards as high as a sixth-round pick. At this moment, he is projected to sign as an undrafted free agent and mainly make his impact on special teams.
Measuring at 5-foot-9 and 204 pounds at the Combine, Dixon recorded an impressive 20 reps on the bench press, good for 3rd amongst safeties. He also ran a 4.81 40-yard dash, ranking 21st among the 22 at his position.
His 40-yard dash time at the combine certainly did not help his draft stock, but he came to Wednesday’s pro day with a different burst, clocking in at 4.62 in his 40-yard re-run.
ILB T.J. Edwards
Edwards, like many of his defensive teammates, is projected to be a late-round draft pick in April.
His only recorded drill at the combine was the bench press where he recorded 16 reps, good for 23rd among linebackers. At the pro day, however, Edwards put more numbers on the board for scouts to evaluate.
He recorded a 4.77-second 40-yard dash, a 112-inch broad jump and a 32.5-inch vertical jump. His 40-yard dash time would have been good for 19th among linebackers, his broad jump 24th and vertical jump 18th.
Like some of his defensive teammates, Edwards is not overly athletic and does most of his proving through instincts, positioning and tackling.
ILB Ryan Connelly
Despite receiving an invite to the NFL Combine Connelly currently projects to sign as an undrafted free agent. His numbers stack up well compared to Edwards, a late round draft prospect and partner in the middle of the Badger defense.
Connelly ran a 4.66 40-yard dash compared to Edwards’ 4.77 40-yard dash at pro day. He also bench pressed 17 reps at pro day, tying teammate Van Ginkel’s number at the Combine and beating Edwards by one rep, and ranked higher in the broad jump and vertical jump compared to Edwards.
Still, Connelly’s numbers rank in the middle to end range of all participants at the Combine.
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OLB Andrew Van Ginkel
Van Ginkel is one of the most interesting Badgers entering this year’s draft.
Though he is not projected to be drafted high, his Combine numbers impressed teams and stacked up favorably against top linebacker prospects including LSU LB Devin White and Michigan LB Devin Bush.
Specifically, Van Ginkel put up 17 reps on the bench press, good for 17th among linebackers, a 38-inch vertical jump, good for 4th, a 123-inch broad jump, good for 5th, a 6.89-second cone drill, good for 3rd and a 4.14 20-yard shuttle, good for 5th.
At the pro day, Van Ginkel ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash which would have been good for 7th at the Combine.
While his size and game tape do not jump out compared to other linebacker prospects in the nation, Van Ginkel turned eyes with his combine performances and could rise to be selected in the draft when it’s all said and done.
DT Olive Sagapolu
Defensive tackle Sagapolu currently projects to be a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent.
Standing at 6-foot-2 and 342 pounds, Sagapolu has nothing to prove on how his size can be used at the next level. He participated in both the broad jump recording 102 inches and the vertical jump recording 30.5 inches.
TE Zander Neuville
Tight end Neuville only participated in the bench press at the pro day racking up 27 reps, a number that would have ranked first of all tight end prospects at the Combine.
RB Taiwan Deal
Running back Deal also only participated in the bench press at the pro day, putting up 24 reps which would have been tied for 5th out of all running backs at the combine.
The remaining Badgers who participated in pro day in hopes of attracting NFL interest were Rachid Ibrahim, Serge Trezy, Micah Kapoi and Chris James.
The NFL Draft will take place April 25 through 27 starting at 7 p.m. on ABC and ESPN.