Wisconsin Pro Day results and observations

MADISON, Wis. — 12 former University of Wisconsin football players took part in the annual pro day held at the McClain Center hoping to make one final impact ahead of the NFL Draft.

For the third year in a row, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson was in Madison scouting potential new talent for the roster. Of particular interest was linebacker T.J. Watt, who many draft analysts believe would be a legitimate option for Green Bay with the 29th overall selection. But there were plenty of other Wisconsin prospects, as well…

Biggest winners

RB Corey Clement: Clement took part in every drill but the bench press after a less-than-stellar NFL Scouting Combine performance. His biggest area of improvement was in the 40-yard dash, where Clement clocked in at 4.54 seconds — a significant improvement over his official 4.68 from Indianapolis. His vertical jump increased from 28.5 inches to 32, while his broad jump was five inches better at 120 inches.

“I came back from the combine and I was so down on myself,” Clement said. “I was like, ‘That’s not me, that’s not a reflection of who I am and what I can run.’ …If you’re in a groove and you’re having a positive day, I think everything is going to reflect [that].”

S Leo Musso: While he didn’t get a chance to compete at the combine, Musso proved that height is only a number. He posted impressive figures in the vertical jump (40.5 inches), broad jump (128 inches), three-cone drill (6.56 seconds) and several others, proving he should have gotten an invite to Indianapolis.

WR Rob Wheelwright: Perhaps Wheelwright falls into the same category. Like Musso, he would have ranked in the top five in multiple drills among receivers had he competed at the combine. Wheelwright’s best efforts were in the 40-yard dash (4.54 seconds), vertical jump (38 inches), and broad jump (128.5 inches).

“I showed I can run well, I can move, I can catch, and I can jump,” Wheelwright told reporters after his workout. “That’s what you need to be — athletic. But you also need to be able to know the game.”

Wheelwright noted that a handful of teams showed interest in him at the pro day, including the Packers, Raiders, and Chiefs.

Here’s a look at the official figures, courtesy of the Badgers:

Other notes and observations

Linebacker T.J. Watt mainly worked on position drills for team scouts, and as Jared Tokarz put it, the Packers were “very impressed” by what they saw from Watt during his pro day.

Left tackle Ryan Ramczyk didn’t take part in any of the on-field work and simply used his time to meet with prospective teams. At the conclusion of the workouts, all former Badgers were available for media interviews, except for Ramczyk who left for a private lunch with an unnamed NFL team representative.

Six Badgers to appear at NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — According to an NFL release, six University of Wisconsin football players have accepted invites to appear at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Invitees
OLB Vince Biegel
RB Corey Clement
RB Dare Ogunbowale
T Ryan Ramczyk
CB Sojourn Shelton
LB T.J. Watt

Noteworthy is the appearance of left tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who told reporters in December that he’d be undergoing hip surgery following the Cotton Bowl to repair a torn labrum. Initial reports indicated that it was an injury that would require a four-month recovery window. Ramczyk isn’t expected to take part in any on-field work while at the combine.

Running back Corey Clement will also be worth watching, having returned for his senior year but not hitting the 2,000-yard mark he was hoping to reach when he became a starter in 2015. Instead, Clement’s efforts in 2016 were spread out across more roles than just running the football. He finished the year with 1,507 yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson earns NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award

HOUSTON — After returning from a torn ACL suffered in the 2015 season, Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson was recognized Saturday night as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

Nelson’s production in 2016 was eerily similar to the numbers he produced in the 2014 season prior to the injury:
2014: 98 receptions, 1,519 yards, 13 touchdowns
2016: 97 receptions, 1,257 yards, 14 touchdowns

The 31-year-old Kansas State product wasn’t expected to be the same player he once was, considering the severity of an ACL tear and the length of time in recovery. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is another exception to the rule, returning from the same injury to put up monster numbers in the 2015 season (1,485 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, long of 80 yards).

But unlike Peterson’s return from the injury, Nelson was not voted to the Pro Bowl roster. That’s despite leading the NFL this season in touchdown receptions.

Nelson has two more seasons remaining on his four-year, $39 million deal signed in July of 2014.

Falcons beat Packers, advance to Super Bowl LI

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons are moving on to Super Bowl LI in Houston after defeating the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the final game held at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons marched 75 yards down the field on their opening possession to score on a short shovel pass to Mohamed Sanu. The Packers were unable to answer on the ensuing possession, with Mason Crosby missing a 41-yard field goal. That ended his NFL-best 23-game streak of consecutive converted postseason field goals.

Atlanta faced little resistance on their second drive of the game, getting inside Green Bay’s 10-yard line before a holding penalty on third down forced them into a field goal attempt, where Ryan was good from 28 yards.

The second quarter started to look like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense were on the path to points, but fullback Aaron Ripkowski’s longest rush of the season ended in the red zone, fumbling the ball and getting recovered by the Falcons in their own end zone.

Things went from bad to worse when Atlanta’s Matt Ryan decided to do the damage with his legs. In the middle of the second quarter, he rushed for a 14-yard touchdown to put the Falcons on top 17-0. They didn’t have their first punt until 3:17 remaining in the first half.

Rodgers tried to rally the troops after that punt and get points before halftime, but a sack on second down set Green Bay up with a long third down deep in their own territory. Trying to make something happen, Rodgers fired deep down the middle of the field where the ball was intercepted.

Green Bay would pay for that mistake, as Ryan and the Atlanta offense marched down the field to score a five-yard touchdown to Julio Jones just before the intermission. The soon-to-be MVP had 271 yards and two touchdown passes in the first half.

The Packers got the ball to start the second half, hoping to mount the largest comeback in NFC Championship game history. Instead, a pair of drops by tight end Jared Cook led to an early punt and the Falcons capitalized once again. Ryan hit Julio Jones for his second touchdown of the game, this time from 73 yards out.

It took until the 9:19 mark in the third quarter for the Packers to get on the board, with Rodgers connecting with Davante Adams for a two-yard touchdown. But once again, Atlanta marched down the field for another score, this time a four-yard grab by running back Devonta Freeman.

Rodgers got another shot at points, however, hooking up with Jordy Nelson for a short touchdown late in the third quarter. Atlanta would recover the ensuing onside kick, eventually scoring another rushing touchdown to extend the lead.

With less than seven minutes left in the game, Rodgers hit Jared Cook for a score, but the two-point conversion failed and Green Bay trailed 21-44.

Ryan Ramczyk to enter 2017 NFL Draft

MADISON, Wis. — Six days after Wisconsin teammate T.J. Watt announced his decision to enter the 2017 NFL Draft, left tackle Ryan Ramczyk will follow suit.

Monday night, Ramczyk told Scott Williams of the Stevens Point Journal that he plans on forfeiting his final year of eligibility as a Badger to enter the NFL where many analysts have him as a projected first round pick. Ramczyk told reporters in Madison prior to the Cotton Bowl that a lot of his decision depended on the result of hip surgery which was scheduled last week.

“This definitely was a huge decision in my life,” said Ramczyk told Williams in a phone interview. “I feel really confident about the decision. It’s something my parents and I have talked about for countless hours. We weighed the pros and cons and the opportunity was too hard to turn down.

Ramczyk sat out the 2015 season after transferring to Wisconsin from division III Wisconsin | Stevens Point.

“Taking that year off [after transferring] helped me adjust to the speed of the game at this level. I knew I had the potential to be a really good player. I took it week by week and focused on being the best I could be.”

UW linebacker T.J. Watt will enter the 2017 NFL Draft

MADISON, Wis. — “I’m solely focused on this game, 100 percent,” Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt said Thursday prior to the Cotton Bowl. “Everything that comes after this game, comes after this game. I’m not worried about the future at all right now.”

Watt didn’t need to wait long after a 24-16 win over Western Michigan to decide he’s ready to make an impact in the National Football League. He announced his decision to leave school early and test the waters in professional football.

The redshirt junior leaves Wisconsin with 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks on the season, leading the team in both categories. He added 63 total tackles, an interception, and two forced fumbles to his numbers. His performance led to a first-team All-Big Ten bid, as well as first-team All-American honors by Sports Illustrated second-team by The Associated Press.

“I’m excited about the opportunity of being able to sit down and take into serious consideration my options,” Watt said on Thursday.

Watt is the younger brother of both J.J. (Houston Texans) and Derek (San Diego Chargers) but hopes scouts notice him for his performance, not his last name. He’s considered a second or third round NFL talent by many analysts.

Packers playoff hopes don’t necessarily hinge on beating Lions

DETROIT — A longtime mantra of Packers coach Mike McCarthy is to never talk about the playoffs until they reach 10 wins on the season. A victory over Detroit would do that, while also clinching the NFC North title and a home game in the postseason.

But Green Bay can still clinch a playoff berth without beating Detroit. Here is a look at some of the Packers’ playoff scenarios.

Packers make the playoffs IF:

  • Win vs DET
  • Tie vs DET
  • Loss vs DET plus WSH loss to NYG and TB loss to CAR

Packers earn No. 3 seed IF:

  • Win vs DET plus SEA loss to SF

Packers earn No. 4 seed IF:

  • Win vs DET

Packers earn No. 6 seed IF:

  • Loss vs DET but clinch wild card

Here are the current NFL playoff matchups according to CBSSports.com:

nfl-playoffs

How Green Bay can clinch a playoff spot in week 16

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers have strung together four wins in a row and currently hold the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoff race. But how can they clinch a spot outright this weekend?

Here are the current NFL playoff standings, according to CBS Sports:
nfc-playoffs

 

 

 

 

 

The Packers can cement that No. 6 seed Saturday against the Vikings with a win, losses by the Redskins (vs Bears) and Buccaneers (vs Saints), along with five combined wins by any of the following seven teams:
Jaguars (vs Titans)
Browns (vs Chargers)
Falcons (at Panthers)
Rams (vs 49ers)
Texans (vs Bengals)
Broncos (at Chiefs)
Lions (at Cowboys)

Right now, the Packers’ biggest challenger for the final playoff spot is the Buccaneers, who have the same overall record (8-6), same conference record (6-4), same record against common opponents (3-2), and same strength of victory (.442). Where Green Bay holds a slight edge, and thus the final playoff spot, is strength of schedule (.510 vs .505).

The easiest way for Green Bay to make the playoffs this season is simply by winning its final two games against the Vikings and Lions.

Report: Ryan Ramczyk to miss four months due to hip surgery

MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin left tackle Ryan Ramczyk will have a big decision to make after it was reported by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Ramczyk would undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.

The surgery will reportedly happen after Wisconsin’s Jan. 2 Cotton Bowl matchup with Western Michigan. The estimated recovery time for this type of surgery is four months, per Ginn.

Ramczyk was considered by many to be a first-round NFL draft pick, but with the draft schedule for Apr. 27-29 in Philadelphia, it’s unlikely Ramczyk would recover in time to prove himself at the NFL Scouting Combine. It would have been an opportunity for Ramczyk to build on his accomplishments this past season after making the jump from Division III UW Stevens Point.

The notion that his surgery will happen after the Cotton Bowl is an indication that he hasn’t ruled out playing in the season finale, but nothing has been confirmed or denied at this point in time.

Tundra Talk with Blake Martinez: Week 15

MADISON | As we near the end of the NFL season, the Packers are in a spot to potentially run the table, and with a little help, make the playoffs.

Still recovering from injury, inside linebacker Blake Martinez is ready to get back on the field to help give his team a push.

Listen below as he joins the Joe & Ebo Show with his Tundra Talk segment to break down the green and gold.

Blake talks on the Packers win over the Seahawks :

More on the state of the team and dealing with injuries:

It’s the fans turn for Questions with Blake:

Finally, the linebacker previews Sunday’s matchup against the Bears:

Be sure to catch Tundra Talk with Blake Martinez every Tuesday through Friday at 10AM on 106.7FM 1670AM The Zone.