Five Wisconsin players selected in 2018 NFL Draft

With the 2018 NFL Draft having come and gone there were five Wisconsin Badgers that heard their name called as they were selected by various NFL franchises.

Here are the players from the University of Wisconsin that were selected in the draft, with their team, overall selection, and round:

CB Nick Nelson, Oakland Raiders, No. 110, fourth round

TE Troy Fumagalli, Denver Broncos, No. 156, fifth round

DB Natrell Jamerson, New Orleans Saints, No. 164, fifth round

LB Jack Cichy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 202, sixth round

LB Leon Jacobs, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 230, seventh round

The following players signed with teams after the draft concluded as undrafted free agents

LB Garret Dooley, Minnesota Vikings

FB Austin Ramesh, Arizona Cardinals

DL Alec James, Arizona Cardinals

Nelson went highest of all the former Badgers, as expected. Although if not for a knee injury during a pre-draft workout he would have likely been drafted higher than he was.

Cichy last played for Wisconsin during the 2016 season, which was cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle. He then missed the entirety of the 2017 season with a torn ACL.

All five players selected from Wisconsin attended the 2018 NFL Combine. In total, Wisconsin had six players at the combine, with linebacker Garret Dooley as the lone player in attendance that was not selected in the draft.

More former Badgers including Derrick Tindal and Joe Ferguson are expected to sign with teams as undrafted free agents. This list will be updated to reflect that as they are reported.

NFL Scouting Combine: Day 4 observations

Indianapolis – On Day 4 of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine the media had the opportunity to meet with defensive linemen and linebackers. The wide receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks all worked out as well on Saturday.

Here are three observations from Day 4 of the combine.

Trio of Badgers

Former Wisconsin linebackers Jack Cichy, Leon Jacobs, and Garret Dooley met with the media on Saturday in Indianapolis. All three were seated at the same table inside the convention center.

The trio also took part in the bench press prior to meeting with the media. Jacobs was the most impressive of the three with 26 reps. Dooley and Cichy trailed behind him with 21 and 18 reps, respectively.

All three are excited to be taking part in the combine, as everyone knows.

“Just being a part of it, I’m definitely blessed,” Dooley said. “To be able to come here and just kind of showcase my skills and my personality is definitely an honor.”

The combine is obviously a huge event for everyone involved, but it might mean the most for Cichy. He missed part of his redshirt junior season with a torn pectoral. Cichy then tore the ACL in his right knee during fall camp causing him to miss the entire 2017 season.

“Honestly, just being to get myself back out there and show what I know,” Cichy said was his favorite part of the combine. “Throughout these years with all the coordinators we’ve had [at Wisconsin] I’ve been able to accrue a lot of good football information and I think I’ve been able to be pretty football savvy. In those interviews, just kind of being able to express that and show teams how I’ve grown in that aspect has been awesome.”

Jacobs was expected to test the best of three. He put up the best number on the bench press and expects to run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash on Sunday.

Both Jacobs and Dooley did say that they have informally met with the Green Bay Packers, Cichy has not.

It is worth noting that Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli did not take part in the on-field workout Saturday.

Wide receivers test on the field

When the wide receivers met with the media on Friday afternoon it seemed as if the Green Bay Packers had met with many of the top prospects in the class. On Saturday those prospects took part the on-field workout portion of the combine.

Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley is regarded as the best in the class. He posted one of the faster 40-yard dash times of the day at 4.43 seconds. Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore was the fastest of the receivers that said he had met with the Packers. He clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash. Moore also had the second-highest vertical jump at 39.5”.

Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown may be the prospect that improved his stock the most with the on-field testing. After measuring nearly 6-foot-5 and 214lbs he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash. St. Brown also did well in the bench press on Friday, posting 20 reps.

With the Packers having visited with a number of receivers this week, today could certainly further their interest a few guys. With Moore and St. Brown testing well, it could encourage the Packers to give them a more serious look should Ridley be picked before Green Bay drafts at No. 14 overall.

Shaquem Griffin

The story of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin has been told relatively frequently over the past few months. Griffin was both with a disorder called amniotic band syndrome that affected his left hand and caused his fingers to not develop fully.

At the age of four Griffin was caught by his mother in the kitchen with a knife trying to self-amputate his fingers. The family then scheduled an appointment and his hand was amputated the following day.

That didn’t stop Griffin from playing college football at a high level, earning the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and being named a Second-team All-American in 2017.

He did enough to earn an invitation to the combine and has unquestionably the best story of anyone in Indianapolis.

Griffin put on a show Saturday afternoon with his performance of 20 reps on the bench press with the help of a prosthetic device that he is able to put on his left wrist in order to grasp the barbell.

“So many people are going to have doubt on things about what I can do,” Griffin said when talking with the media Saturday evening. “Obviously it started at the bench press. Some people didn’t think I could do three, some people didn’t think I could do five, some people didn’t even think I could do the bench press. I went and did the bench press and competed with everybody else and did 20 [reps]. That’s just one step closer to everything that I need to be able to accomplish.”

Despite the outstanding play on the field, there are plenty of questions about him due to his deformity. The fact that he’s competing at the highest level is inspirational to many as it should be.

“I hope I inspire a lot [of people]. I always told everybody, if I can inspire one [person] they can inspire one more and I can inspire a thousand later. If I keep doing what I’m doing now then I can change a lot of minds of a lot of people and be able to inspire more kids every day.”

Wisconsin sends six to NFL Combine

The invitations to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind. have been officially sent out and six players from Wisconsin will be in attendance.

Linebackers Leon Jacobs and Garret Dooley, and defensive backs Natrell Jamerson and Nick Nelson will represent one of the best defenses in the country from the 2017 season. Tight end Troy Fumagalli is the only offensive player from Wisconsin that will be in attendance.

Linebacker Jack Cichy, who missed the entire 2017 season after tearing his ACL in preseason camp, was the sixth invitee from Wisconsin.

Jacobs, Dooley, Jamerson, and Nelson were key cogs in a defensive unit that was second in the FBS in total yards per game allowed (262.1 ypg) and third in points per game (13.9 ppg). Alabama was the country’s leader in both categories.

Fumagalli was the team’s leading receiver with 46 catches on the season for 547 yards and four touchdowns. He began his career at Wisconsin as a walk-on and finished with 135 catches for 1,627 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.

In the first seven-round mock draft from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, four of the six Badgers were selected, with Nelson being the highest selection in the third-round to the Minnesota Vikings. Fumagalli, Cichy, and Dooley were the other Badgers taken in that mock draft, with Jamerson and Jacobs going undrafted.

A full list of the invitees to the 2018 NFL Combine can be found here.

Rehab continues for former Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy as he sets his sights on a new goal

When Jack Cichy was in high school, he had just one major goal when it came to the game of football, and it wasn’t playing in the NFL.

“I wanted to walk-on and play big-time college football,” Cichy said Friday when he joined “The Joe and Ebo Show” on the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network. “When you’re in a position like I was, the NFL really isn’t in your mindset. I wasn’t even thinking that far ahead.”

The thought of playing in the NFL is no longer considered too far ahead. It’s actually the former Wisconsin linebacker’s only focus. Well, that and rehabbing from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that cost him his senior season. But the two are very much intertwined and have been almost since the day Cichy let out a scream that reverberated throughout a mostly empty Camp Randall Stadium last August as he crumpled to the ground holding his knee. It was in that moment, and in the following days, that he started to realize he’d played his last game for the Badgers.

Former Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy joins “The Joe & Ebo Show”

The feeling wasn’t unfamiliar as a torn pectoral muscle had brought his junior season to end after just seven games the previous October. That was excruciating for Cichy, who might have been playing the best of anyone on the Badgers’ defense at the time. So good, in fact, that he said if he had played the entire year, he might have considered leaving early for the NFL.

But the devastating injury last fall had a feeling of finality to it. A fifth-year senior, Cichy could have applied for another year of eligibility, though the chances of the NCAA actually granting it were slim. Instead, he turned his attention to something that seemed unfathomable when he arrived in Madison four and a half years earlier as a nondescript walk-on from Somerset, Wis., — playing in the NFL.

“My thought process [was], I need all my eggs in one basket, and I can’t have that if I’m stuck waiting for that decision,” Cichy said of a potential appeal to the NCAA. “At that point in my life, with the rollercoaster of emotions I’d gone through and was going through, I needed something concrete. I chose what I thought was the most concrete route.”

After a season of essentially rehabbing and serving as an extra defensive coach for the Badgers as they repeated as Big Ten West champions and won the Orange Bowl, that route has brought Cichy to Arizona and the EXOS training facility. It’s where NFL hopefuls like Cichy go to get themselves in the best shape for the annual NFL combine held in late February and early March.

Cichy got a coveted invite to the combine based largely on his outstanding production late in the 2015 season and what he put on tape early in 2016. He started just 11 games during that stretch but was off the charts productive, averaging 8.5 tackles per game, while racking up 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. It’s even more impressive when you consider he missed large stretches in three of those games thanks to being ejected from one, forced to miss the first half of another and getting injured in a third.

Those glimpses of excellent play has teams intrigued and they want to see more. But unlike his roommate and Wisconsin teammate Troy Fumagalli, who is also at EXOS and working on his 40-yard dash, vertical leap and every other on-field test NFL personnel will put players through at the combine, Cichy is still very much in rehab mode.

“At the combine, I’ll be able to bench and I’ll be able to go through all the medical evals,” said Cichy, who is right around six months clear from surgery. “I’ll keep working towards coming back fully and not rushing it.”

The 6-foot-2, 234-pound Cichy admits he’s not quite sure how the next few months will play out. That’s a change from his time at Wisconsin, where the calendar was structured and he always knew what was coming next. The hope, at least in his mind, is he’ll be able to show how far along he is in his rehab at Wisconsin’s pro day in March and in any private workouts with individual teams in the weeks that follow.

“As we get closer to the draft, hopefully my recovery process [remains] on schedule … and there are no hiccups along the way,” Cichy said. “And [then] come the end of April, [I] hear my name called in some way, shape or form. Be able to have another chance to earn a spot.”

Wisconsin’s Jack Cichy declares for NFL Draft

MADISON — Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy announced that he will not petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility and instead has declared for the 2018 NFL Draft, he writes in The Players Tribune.

Cichy, a former walk-on, missed the final seven games of the 2016 season with a torn pectoral and all of the 2017 season with a torn ACL. He had high expectations nationally for this season, as he was named to several preseason watch lists, including for the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Award, and Lott IMPACT Trophy.

In his career he played in 25 games for Wisconsin, totaling 121 total tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Cichy was also named Defensive MVP for Wisconsin’s 2015 Holiday Bowl victory over USC. He had a team-high nine tackles and three sacks against the Trojans.

Cichy played as a true freshman in 2013 and then redshirted in 2014. After missing the entire 2017 season he would have been able to apply for a medical redshirt.

He was awarded a scholarship prior to the 2015 season.

Assessing the inside linebackers in the wake of Jack Cichy’s season-ending injury

MADISON — Jack Cichy is done for the year after tearing the ACL in his right knee Tuesday night at practice. And for the second time in 10 months, Wisconsin players and coaches are having to field questions about where they go from here now that they don’t have their fiery and talented inside linebacker. The choices, like they were last October when Cichy tore his left pectoral muscle and missed the second half of the season, are far better than most teams in the country could hope for in a similar situation.

Here’s our look at who has a chance to roll with the first-team defense next to to three-year starter T.J. Edwards and attempt to fill the massive void left by Cichy

Junior Ryan Connelly (2016: 59 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 1 interception)

Connelly started the final seven games of last season after Cichy went down and filled in admirably. A former walk-on just like Cichy, Connelly, according to PFF College Football, had the No. 1 run stop percentage among all returning inside linebackers in the country. He would likely be a heavy favorite to be Cichy’s replacement once again, but he’s currently dealing with a leg injury of his own that has kept him out of practice for the last week. Coach Paul Chryst said the injury isn’t season-ending, but he also gave no indication when the Minnesota native would be able to return.

Sophomore Chris Orr (2016: Torn ACL on first snap. 2015: 46 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, .5 sack)

Orr started five games as a true freshman in 2015 before tearing his left ACL on the first snap of 2016. He’s now fully recovered and was running with the first-team defense on Thursday morning. Orr is not the biggest guy, but being relentless and instinctive are two of his better traits. Depending on how long Connelly remains out, Orr very well could grab ahold of the job and not let go.

Sophomore Griffin Grady (2016: 12 games, 4 tackles)

One of just six true freshmen to see the field for Wisconsin in 2016, Grady was a fixture on special teams and looked solid in mop-up time at inside linebacker. Unfortunately for him and the Badgers, the Dublin, Ohio., product has missed most of fall camp with an illness, preventing him from getting vital reps.

Junior Arrington Farrar (2016: 7 tackles, 1 forced fumble)

A safety his first two years on campus, Farrar moved to inside linebacker during spring practice for Wisconsin. The change allowed him to bulk up as opposed to constantly worrying about keeping his weight down to play in the secondary. One of Wisconsin’s key guys on special teams, Farrar admitted in the spring that redshirting in 2017 was a possibility with all the talent in front of him. That might not be the case now that Cichy’s season is over.

Redshirt freshman Mike Maskalunas (2016: redshirt)

From Long Grove, Ill., Maskalunas has the chance to be the next walk-on to hit it big at linebacker, joining the likes of Joe Schobert, Marcus Trotter, Ethan Armstrong, Cichy and Connelly. Asked what young guy stood out to him during the summer, tight end Troy Fumagalli singled out Maskalunas.

“He’s a hard worker, puts his head down, does the right things,” Fumagalli said on ‘The Camp.’ “He’s got a bunch of talent in front of him. You might not see him right away. People might speculate [about his future]. But if he keeps on the same path of working hard and follows those guys in front of him, I think he’s going to be a really good player one day.”

LB Jack Cichy to miss 2017 season

MADISON — Wisconsin has lost senior linebacker Jack Cichy for the 2017 season.

The school announced Wednesday morning that the former walk-on had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during practice on Tuesday. Cichy will undergo surgery in Chicago on Friday.

“You hate it for Jack,” coach Paul Chryst said in a statement released by the school . “You only get so many chances to play this game and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He’s one of the leaders of our team and I know he’ll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season.”

The Somerset, Wis., native went down clutching his right knee without being touched during a drill Tuesday night. He walked off under his own power and later returned to practice but was clearly still bothered by it.

Inside linebacker is among the deepest positions on Wisconsin’s roster. Junior T.J. Edwards is entering his third year as a starter, junior Ryan Connelly started the final seven games of last season and sophomore Chris Orr started six games a true freshman in 2015.

Cichy, named a captain by his teammates, missed the final seven games of last year after tearing his left pectoral. Despite that, he still earned All-Big Ten honorable mention by racking up 60 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Wisconsin LB Chris Orr receives medical redshirt

MADISON — Wisconsin is focused on the 2017 season, but the school got some good news for its future on Wednesday.

Team officials said linebacker Chris Orr, who was injured at the beginning of last season, got his medical redshirt approved by the NCAA. Though it was thought to be a foregone conclusion he would receive the year, the paperwork makes it official, and it leaves him a redshirt sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining.

Orr started six games a freshman in 2015 and was in the lineup at the beginning of 2016 against LSU when his knee buckled on the first defensive snap of the year. It proved to be a torn ACL and kept him out the rest of the season and all of spring practice. Orr returned to the field this week when the team opened fall camp and hasn’t been restricted at all outside of having to wear a knee brace.

The Texas native is currently playing with the second-team defense at inside linebacker behind senior Jack Cichy and junior T.J. Edwards.

Wisconsin opens the season Sept. 1 against Utah State at Camp Randall Stadium.

Once Jack Cichy stopped feeling sorry for himself, he turned his season-ending injury into a positive

CHICAGO — As Jack Cichy sat on the team bus outside of Ryan Field last November, the Wisconsin linebacker couldn’t help but think how much his fortunes had changed in just three weeks time.

His team had just finished off a 21-7 win against Northwestern, but Cichy’s mind floated back to Oct. 15 when he put on a show in a 30-23 overtime loss to No. 6 Ohio State. The then-junior finished with 15 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. Several scouts, including the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, raved on social media about Cichy, whose profile was on the rise. A week later his breakout season was over, done in by a torn pectoral muscle suffered against Iowa.

“In the weeks leading up to the injury, I [was gaining] more notoriety,” Cichy said Monday at Big Ten media days. “And then to have it all come crashing down, [was tough]. Having all that notoriety one day and the next day you’re kind of off in the shadows, was weird. That was definitely very trying.”

It was as if he was rolling along at 90 miles per hour and hit a brick wall, with the mental anguish on par with the physical.

“I was down in the dumps, man. It was tough,” Cichy said of the weeks after the injury. “I was not in a good place. Feeling sorry for myself. And mentally, not as strong as I would have liked. It really tested me a lot.”

LISTEN: Jack Cichy on the difficulty the coaches will have in deciding who will start at inside linebacker

It’s usually at this point in the story that someone like Cichy would have a conversation with a coach or a teammate or a family member that would all of a sudden set him on the right path mentally. But that’s not what happened. Instead, Cichy just opened up his eyes to what was around him, which resulted in what he called an epiphany.

“I saw I had teammates that were supporting me. I had a team that was winning. I had coaches that really cared about me and family that stuck by me,” Cichy said.

“As selfish as I was those first two weeks [after the injury], at the same time I got to be around football every day. I got to be around the facilities. I got to remember that I was blessed with the opportunity to [be a] part of one of the best programs in college football. Just being able to appreciate that, day in and day out, and kind of help anyway I could, that’s really what got the ball rolling as far as my mental state and the rehab itself.”

When Cichy stopped feeling sorry for himself, his rehab took off. By the time spring practice rolled around in March, he claimed to be 100 percent recovered — a month earlier than expected. The former walk-on was kept out of full contact drills but still had a huge presence throughout the 15 practices, especially vocally. That, along with what he called the most productive summer he’s had at Wisconsin, led to his teammates voting him as one of their five captains.

LISTEN: Paul Chryst says his message hasn’t changed despite outside expectations going up.

All of the work has him feeling the best he ever has and positioned him for what could potentially be a big senior year that will result in the team being successful and him moving on to the NFL — something that he was thinking about last year before the injury.

“Me and my dad…really talked about it. We were kind of on the same page (that a conversation about leaving or staying likely would have been needed),” Cichy said. “My mom, on the other hand, she was very opposed to even [having] the discussion, even though it was a real discussion.

“In hindsight, I’m really glad I never had to face that decision. Obviously, the injury sucked, but a lot of good has come out of it. And I’m really excited to showcase all that.”

Being named captains is special for former walk-ons Jack Cichy and Troy Fumagalli

CHICAGO — Wisconsin’s walk-on tradition has become a well known contributor to the Badgers success since former coach Barry Alvarez arrived in 1990. From Joe Panos early in Alvarez’s tenure to Donnell Thompson, Jim Leonhard, J.J. Watt, Jared Abbrederis and many more, the school has thrived at finding under the radar players, developing them and watching them become stars.

Many have gone on to be captains and leaders on a number of the more successful teams in program history. That will be the case again in 2017, as former walk-ons Jack Cichy and Troy Fumagalli were named team captains on Monday.

“It means a lot to me especially because it was voted on by our players,” Fumagalli said. “I always think about the responsibility that comes with it. It’s cool they named me that. It’s my chance to be the best player and teammate I can be.

LISTEN: Jack Cichy joins ‘The Camp’ at Big Ten media days.

Cichy and Fumagalli earned their scholarships prior to the 2015 season and have been key players in helping the Badgers win 21 games the last two years.

One of the top tight ends in the country, Fumagalli led Wisconsin with 47 catches in 2016, while Cichy burst onto the scene late in 2015, including back-to-back-to-back sacks in the Holiday Bowl. The senior was off to a big start last season before suffering a torn left pectoral muscle and missing the rest of the year.

LISTEN: Troy Fumagalli joins ‘The Camp’ to talk about his legacy at Wisconsin and more

“It means a lot,” Cichy said at Big Ten media days. “I’m super appreciative, and I know a huge responsibility comes with that. Being an instate kid, being a walk-on, to earn the respect of my peers and teammates, have them vote me into that, it’s a great honor. And I know it’s all for naught if I don’t take the responsibility and be up to the challenge.”

The pair will be joined as captains by safety D’Cota Dixon, center Michael Deiter and defensive lineman Conor Sheehy.