Since the start of the NFL draft in 1936, the Wisconsin Badgers have had no problem producing NFL-ready talent. Over the last 35 years, the Badgers have sent 289 players to the NFL via the draft, 21st out of all colleges. With 84 of these draft picks coming in the last decade, the Badgers have been a growing force within the NFL and are generating more talent than ever before.

This is evidenced by current superstars Russell Wilson and J.J. Watt, two of the top NFL players over the past decade, both on track to reach the Hall of Fame. More recently, the Badgers have found professional success in the backfield, with the likes of Jonathan Taylor, James White and Melvin Gordon. These modern players are accompanied by legends such as Mike Webster, Elroy Hirsch, Alan Ameche and recent-retiree Joe Thomas. With the growing stock of Wisconsin football, the Badgers expect to see even more talent selected in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.

That talent will most likely begin with tight end Jake Ferguson who is projected to go around the third round of the 2022 draft. Ferguson has been a consistent talent within the Badger offense over his last three years as a starter, posting over 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns. He best showcased his talent last year over a shortened season, showing his explosiveness and ability to get off the line quickly and get downfield within the passing game. He’s had a consistent, long career with the Badgers in which he’s continued to improve the facets of his game.

Scouts are somewhat concerned with his ability to block the edge, but this year he has shown improvement and stability within the running game. He is projected as the fifth tight end to be selected in the draft, so he’s certainly among the cream of the crop at the position. Expect to see him producing on an NFL roster within the next three years.

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Another player whose stock has been rising as of late is inside linebacker Jack Sanborn. He’s been dominant for the Badgers this year and has had an outstanding career as a Badger. This season especially, he’s been all over the run game with 7.5 tackles for loss through seven games. His fantastic positional instinct, as well as football IQ, are appealing to scouts, as he’s projected to go near Round Six in a defense-loaded draft. That stock could improve as the year goes on and almost certainly will if he continues to play at this high level.

He’s one of the players within the draft who has the potential to over-perform based on where they were selected and could blossom into a star at the higher level. Even if he’s taken late, Sanborn has a good shot of becoming a recognizable force within the NFL.

At the cornerback position, Caesar Williams is an experienced senior who elected to use the extra year of eligibility to improve his professional potential. Williams has plenty of starts under his belt under defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, a former NFL defensive back himself. With one interception so far this season, the senior corner will look to build on his draft stock as he continues to make an impact on the backend of the defense. Caesar Williams’ experience and coverage skills should prove worthy of a draft pick in the spring.

To continue with the defensive side of the ball, starting nose tackle Junior Keeanu Benton has made an impact that could make NFL scouts excited. With multiple starters on last year’s line moving on, Benton has had the opportunity to capitalize, and he has made the most of it. Benton has the size and athleticism to be a force on the defensive line at the next level. The statistics do not pop off the page with him, but his impact goes much further than that as he contributes greatly to the Badgers’ top-ranked rushing defense. Benton has the talent for a long NFL career if his strong play on the field continues.

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Back on the other side of the ball, the running game this year has been as strong as ever. That can be heavily attributed to draft prospect guard/tackle Logan Bruss, who has performed at a very high level this season. He was named All-Big Ten Third Team last season and has helped the Badgers running game operate at an elite level.

Before this season, he was placed on the watchlist for the Outland Trophy, an award given to the best interior lineman in college football for that given year. Bruss possesses the talent needed to perform at the next level and is expected to be a late-round pick in the upcoming draft. With Bruss, he will bring experience from a school that has produced plenty of offensive line talent.

Looking ahead to the future, the Badgers have some elite potential for upcoming drafts. For 2023, the main Badger prospect is linebacker Leo Chenal. He has been playing great alongside Sanborn this year, with five sacks already through seven games. His speed and frame at the linebacker position are hard to find, showing range when covering skill positions on the field, making him a valuable prospect for an NFL team.

It’s too early to tell where he’d be selected in the draft, but he has time to improve his stock and potentially be selected in the early rounds. A much longer way away is the star running back Braelon Allen, who has the chance to develop into an elite-level talent over the next couple of years. Just a freshman, Allen has already showcased the potential to be the next great Badger running back. These players’ potential to reach the NFL will be monitored over time, and the Badgers should be happy they get to keep these guys for a little while longer.

As the talent threshold within the NFL continues to strengthen, the Badgers continue to improve alongside. They continue to produce elite-level talent, even more over the last decade than ever. This trend is likely to continue, with many talented Badgers taking the field this year and for years to come.