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.

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.

Grading the Badgers: Defensive backs

As a whole, Wisconsin’s defense was one of the best in the entire country this season. The Badgers did a terrific job of limiting the big play, and often times bailed out the offense from untimely turnovers.

A large reason for the lack of big plays, at least, was the play of the defensive backfield this season.

Wisconsin had five defensive backs see the field on a regular basis and they did an outstanding job limiting the passing game of their opponents. The Badgers only allowed an average of 160.6 yards though the air per game. Opposing offenses also completed less than half of their passes against Wisconsin this season, coming in at 49.1%.

Nick Nelson was their best player in the secondary on the season. The draft-eligible corner hasn’t decided whether or not he will return to Madison next season, but he may have the brightest NFL future of this bunch.

The only downside to Nelson’s season was that he was unable to record an interception. Other than that, he did everything Wisconsin’s defensive staff could have hoped when they accepted him as a transfer from Hawaii.

Opposite of Nelson was Derrick Tindal at the other cornerback position. Tindal also had a strong season on the outside for Wisconsin. He brought a large amount of experience to this unit. The senior has played in 42 games in his career at Wisconsin. This season he was tested less due to Nelson’s emergence. He finished the year with nine passes defensed and an interception.

At safety, the Badgers saw three players see significant time. Natrell Jamerson started at one of the safety positions in all 13 games, while D’Cota Dixon and Joe Ferguson both played the other safety position.

Jamerson was playing safety for the first time as a Badger, having been at the nickel back position in 2016 and starting his career as a wide receiver. Jamerson brought consistency to that spot despite the lack of experience playing it. His production skyrocketed from the previous two seasons. Obviously, he spent more time on the field, and he took advantage of it.

Jamerson finished the season with 49 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. He also picked off a pair of passes, returning one of them for a touchdown in the Big Ten opener against Northwestern.

Dixon and Ferguson split time mainly due to the leg injury Dixon suffered. Dixon started eight of the games while Ferguson got the nod in the other five. Both of them were productive, although Dixon is certainly the more talented player.

Before the injury set in for Dixon he was one of the leading tacklers on the team. He finished the year with 52 tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Dixon played a role that many safeties aren’t asked to, where he was typically closer to the box making tackles. In most cases seeing the safety as a leading tackler is a bad thing, but that wasn’t the case for Wisconsin.

While Dixon was less than 100%, Ferguson saw much of the time in his absence. He was a much different type of player than Dixon. Ferguson wasn’t the same tackler as Dixon, finishing with 16 stops. However, he found himself around the ball much more. Ferguson intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown, and also recovered a pair of fumbles. Despite his limited time on the field when the Badgers were healthy he was the team leader in takeaways.

GRADE: A- : This secondary was very impressive for Wisconsin. Stopping the big play was something they did well in nearly every game, with the loss to Ohio State the exception. The Badgers allowed plays of more than 50 yards only three times during the regular season. Unfortunately for them, they allowed four such plays against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game, preventing them from receiving a higher grade. THat being said, the season as a whole was impressive. Next season they’ll certainly be missed with Jamerson, Ferguson, Tindal, and possibly Nelson moving on from Wisconsin. Dixon does have another year of eligibility and is expected to return.

Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson wins Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin defensive back Nick Nelson was honored by the Big Ten as the conference’s Special Teams player of the Week for week 12.

The Badgers defeated Michigan 24-10 on Saturday, thanks in part to Nelson’s 50-yard punt return touchdown in the first quarter. This was the first time Wisconsin returned a punt for a touchdown since Kenzel Doe returned one 82 yards against Utah State on September 15, 2012. His touchdown made him the 18th player for Wisconsin to reach the end zone this season. It was the first special teams touchdown scored by the Badgers this season.

Nelson also had an 18-yard punt return later in the game that helped set up Wisconsin’s final score, a 30-yard field goal by kicker Rafael Gaglianone with 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.

He also had two tackles and two pass break-ups on the day.

This is the first time a Wisconsin player has won Special Teams Player of the Week since the 2016 season when Gaglianone won the award in week one.

(9) Wisconsin 38, Nebraska 17: 2-minute drill

LINCOLN, Neb. — Freshman Jonathan Taylor ran for 249 yards and two touchdowns as Wisconsin hammered Nebraska 38-17 Saturday night at Memorial Stadium to move to 5-0 for the first time since 2011.

Play of the Game

Nebraska had just gotten the stadium rocking with an 80-yard touchdown catch and run from wide receiver Stanley Morgan to get within 10-7 late in the second quarter. But Wisconsin had an answer — or more accurately — Taylor had an answer. On the first play of the ensuing drive, the running back got the handoff, burst through a hole on the right side and outran the safety for a 75-yard score to give the Badgers the momentum back.

Game Balls

Offense: Jonathan Taylor

In his just his fifth college game, the New Jersey product topped the 200-yard mark for a second time this season. And he did it by averaging 10 yards per carry, showing off both his power, speed and agility that made him so productive in high school. It’s becoming more clear by the day that Wisconsin got an absolute steal in Taylor.

Defense: CB Nick Nelson

Facing what was the best group of wide receivers Wisconsin had seen so far, the Badgers’ top cornerback had perhaps his best game of the year. Nelson finished with a team-high three pass breakups, and was draped all over Nebraska’s pass catchers. Nelson has been good this season, but Saturday night he took it to another level.

Special Teams: Zach Hintze

Wisconsin kicked off seven times and Hintze put five of them in the end zone, while popping another one up that allowed the coverage team to get down and stop Nebraska at its own 17-yard line.

Video of the game

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst talks to the media after the game
Linebacker Chris Orr on his interception return for a touchdown

In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin’s captains were wide receiver Jazz Peavy, tight end Troy Fumagalli, safety Natrell Jamerson and defensive end Alec James.

— Walk-on Jason Erdmann replaced an injured Jon Dietzen at left guard late in the first half.

— After missing last week’s game against Northwestern with a leg injury, Fumagalli returned to the lineup and had three catches for 31 yards.

— After Nebraska tied the game at 17 with 10:43 left in the third quarter, Wisconsin ran the ball on 29 of the next 31 plays, outscoring the Huskers 21-0 in that stretch.

Inside the Numbers

131 — That’s how many points Wisconsin has outscored Nebraska in the seven games since the Huskers entered in the Big Ten in 2011. The Badgers are 6-1 in those games.

75 — That’s how long Jonathan Taylor’s second quarter touchdown run was — the longest play from scrimmage for the Badgers since an 88-yard catch and run by Melvin Gordon in 2014 against Iowa.

14 — That’s how many players have run for 200 yards against Nebraska. Of the 14, three of them are Badgers — Montee Ball (2012), Melvin Gordon (2012, 2014) and Jonathan Taylor (2017).

20 — That’s how many straight night games Nebraska had won at Memorial Stadium — a streak the Badgers stopped on Saturday night.

353 — That’s how many yards rushing Wisconsin had for the game, the most in a road game since 2012.

3 — That’s how many interceptions Wisconsin has returned for touchdowns this year, matching the most for the program in the last 20 years. The Badgers also had three in 1999 and 2010.

0 — That’s how many points Wisconsin’s defense allowed in the second half — the fourth time this year the Badgers haven’t allowed the opposing offense to score after halftime this year.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0) will return home to face Purdue (3-2, 1-1) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.