The University of Wisconsin football team finished 2019 with a 10-4 (7-2 Big Ten) record, winning the Big Ten West and making a Rose Bowl appearance behind a roster that includes multiple players who will be drafted in the NFL Draft in late April.
Led by star running back Jonathan Taylor, the Badgers will likely hear at least three or four names called at the yearly spectacle, while several players may or may not hear their names called by the end of the third day of the draft.
Along with Taylor, senior Zack Baun and junior Tyler Biadasz will almost certainly hear their names called either April 23 or 24, the first two days of the draft. Other players who may or may not get drafted across the three-day event include Chris Orr, Quintez Cephus, Jason Erdmann and David Moorman.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the draft stocks of all seven players and project if and when they will be drafted.
Among the Badgers who have declared for the draft, Taylor is definitely the flashiest. Standing at 5-foot-10-inches and 226 pounds, Taylor is among the biggest and fastest running backs featured in this year’s draft.
In February’s NFL Scouting Combine, Taylor finished with a 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds, which was the fastest among all running backs who participated. He impressed all three seasons with Wisconsin, breaking the FBS record for most rushing yards through a junior season (6,174).
Taylor is likely a late first-round or early second-round pick, with most mock drafts placing Taylor as either the first or second running back taken behind Georgia’s D’Andre Swift. Due to Taylor’s impressive performance at the combine and his improvement as a receiving back last season, I project Taylor will be taken with the No. 29 overall pick by the Tennessee Titans to supplement running back Derrick Henry.
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While Taylor is the flashiest Badger in this year’s draft, Baun might end up hearing his name called first. Baun blossomed into one of the best linebackers in college football in 2019, leading Wisconsin in sacks (12.5), solo tackles (53), tackles for a loss (19.5) and quarterback hits (10) across 14 starts, earning first-team All-Big Ten and first-team All-American awards.
Baun’s athleticism and above-average size (6-foot-2 and 238 pounds) make him one of the most intriguing linebackers in this year’s draft, as most mock drafts have him as the fourth linebacker taken off the board, behind Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray and LSU’s Patrick Queen.
Like Taylor, Baun will likely be taken in the late first round or early in the second round. With so many teams in need of linebacking help and only a few top-end linebackers available, I peg Baun as the No. 32 pick to the Kansas City Chiefs, who return nearly all of their Super-Bowl-winning offense and will be looking for defensive help early in the draft.
Biadasz’s is just the latest in a long history of great offensive linemen to emerge from Wisconsin. As a 3-star recruit out of high school, Biadasz grew into a dominating force on Wisconsin’s line, paving the way for Taylor and protecting quarterback Jack Coan with ease, allowing just one sack across 390 pass plays in 2019.
Biadasz is projected as a second- or third-round draft pick by most mock drafts, but his impressive numbers blocking for Taylor in 2018 and 2019 give him a high-floor among fellow linemen in the draft.
The Green Bay Packers need help on the line and Biadasz, a Wisconsin native, is a perfect fit. I project Biadasz to go to the Packers with the No. 62 overall pick (Round 2, Pick No. 30).
Many were upset when Orr failed to get an invite to February’s combine, but he impressed at Wisconsin’s 2020 Pro Day, matching and exceeding several key measurements completed by Baun at the combine. Like Baun, Orr emerged as a star in 2019, totaling 11.5 sacks and 78 tackles.
Due to Orr’s relatively small size for a linebacker (6-foot-0 and 215 pounds) make him a late-round pick at best. Since most mock drafts have two or three rounds at most, Orr is not featured in virtually any of them. But I think Orr could definitely be taken as a fifth- or sixth-round pick, so I will project him to go to the Buffalo Bills with the No. 189 overall pick (Round 6, Pick No. 9).
After missing the entire 2018 season, Cephus led the Badgers’ receiving core in 2019, totaling 59 receptions, 901 yards and 7 touchdowns across 14 games.
Cephus missed the entire 2018 season due to two sexual assault charges raised against him, which is one reason teams may not take a risk on him in the draft.
Due to character issues and a relatively average performance at the combine, I would not be surprised to see Cephus fall to the late rounds of the draft. That being said, I project Cephus will be taken by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 163 overall pick (Round 5, Pick No. 17).
Erdmann was a slightly above-average lineman during his career, playing in all 55 games during his four-year playing career. He also showed his athleticism and versatility playing at various positions along the line and even tight end in certain packages.
Ultimately, Erdmann is unlikely to hear his name called during the draft, but don’t be surprised if he gets looks during training camp this summer.
Like Erdmann, Moorman showed his athleticism and versatility with Wisconsin, playing at right guard to form one of the strongest offensive line trios alongside Biadasz and Erdmann. Moorman played in all but one of the 55 games during his four-year career.
Moorman is also unlikely to be drafted during this year’s NFL Draft, but he should definitely get looks during NFL training camps this summer.