The NFL Draft has come and gone, and several former Badgers are now employed to play at the next level.
Expectations were high coming into the weekend with six of Head Coach Paul Chryst’s former players projected to be drafted.
While four of these players — offensive lineman Michael Deiter, linebacker Ryan Connelly, LB Andrew Van Ginkel and OL David Edwards — did have their names called during the draft, the overall trend saw former Badgers fall far below where they were projected to be taken.
Here are the full results from Wisconsin’s weekend at the draft and how the players will fit with their new teams.
OL Michael Deiter: 78th overall to the Miami Dolphins
Deiter was the first of Chryst’s former players to be drafted and was one of the only Badgers to rise from his pre-draft projections.
Websites, including CBSSports, gave Deiter a 5th round grade early in the draft process, but the Miami Dolphins selected Deiter in the 3rd round. Deiter was the only Badger to be taken on day two of the draft.
Improving the offensive line was a major need for Miami entering the draft, so spending a 3rd round pick on Deiter shows the Dolphins’ commitment to finding a meaningful role for him on the team. The pick is even being called “one of the better picks inside the top 100” by SBNation.
Deiter is projected to compete for the starting left guard position right away in Miami and could win the job before the season starts.
Deiter should provide valuable protection to the Dolphins’ new franchise quarterback Josh Rosen, who was traded to Miami from Arizona Friday.
LB Ryan Connelly: 143rd overall to the New York Giants
Connelly used a stellar combine and pro day to rise from a projection of being undrafted to being selected in the 5th round.
At Wisconsin, Connelly was viewed as Jim Leonhard’s second-best inside linebacker behind T.J. Edwards. But thanks to his superior performance in nearly every combine and pro day event, the Giants and others saw him as a better prospect than Edwards.
Connelly will battle for an inside linebacker job in New York with Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson. He is currently viewed as the backup to the two but will have the chance to play meaningful snaps once the season begins.
LB Andrew Van Ginkel: 151st overall to the Miami Dolphins
Van Ginkel will join Deiter in Miami.
Similar to Connelly, Van Ginkel benefited from the combine, pro day and the rest of the pre-draft process.
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He is currently seen as the backup strong-side linebacker to Kiko Alonso. With Alonso’s long history of injuries, though, Van Ginkel may see the field sooner than people expect.
OL David Edwards: 169th overall to the Los Angeles Rams
Edwards was the big faller for Wisconsin during this weekend’s draft. CBSSports and other websites projected Edwards as high as a 2nd or 3rd round pick, but Edwards slipped into the 5th round.
Much of this drop can be attributed to Edwards’ unimpressive pre-draft workouts, which had a similar, dampening effect on several other Badgers.
The Rams will enter the season with Edwards as their backup at right tackle behind Rob Havenstein, a proven player in the league.
Edwards does have a path to the starting job at left tackle, where the Rams’ Andrew Whitworth is entering his final years. A potential roadblock to this position, however, is the Rams’ 3rd round draft choice, Oklahoma OL Bobby Evans. While Evans is viewed as the better prospect, look for Edwards to be given a chance in Los Angeles.
Undrafted Free Agents
Players who did not hear their name called on draft night but were quickly picked up by teams include Oakland Raiders fullback Alec Ingold, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards and Detroit Lions offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel.
Of the three, the one who has the best chance to stick with his team and even play meaningful snaps in the coming years is Edwards.
The Eagles lost starting linebacker Jordan Hicks after last season to free agency. General Manager Howie Roseman also didn’t take a linebacker during the draft, so the addition of Edwards could secure him a spot on the roster, and may even make him a lock to get starting snaps on defense.
The former Badgers who remain unsigned are DT Olive Sagapolu, S D’Cota Dixon, RB Taiwan Deal, RB Chris James, TE Zander Neuville and OL Micah Kapoi. Though Dixon and James did receive invites to rookie mini-camps, with James being invited to compete for a spot with his hometown Chicago Bears.