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.
Indianapolis – The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis continued on Friday with the quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, and specialists meeting with the media.
Here are three takeaways from the day:
Help in the wide receiver room
Friday is when all of the wide receivers met with the media. This class doesn’t have a sure-fire top receiver in it. Calvin Ridley, who played college at the University of Alabama, is expected to be the first receiver taken off of the board. With that being said, it would come as a surprise to no one if he stuck around until the middle of the first round.
The other receivers in this class that could find themselves in Green Bay include James Washington of Oklahoma State, Equanimeous St. Brown from Notre Dame, Christian Kirk from Texas A&M, or Maryland’s D.J. Moore.
Those four all said that they have met with the Green Bay Packers – either formally or informally – while in Indianapolis.
Indiana wide receiver Simmie Cobbs also said that he met with the Packers informally with no plans for a formal visit as of Friday afternoon.
It’s common for teams to take meetings with as many prospects as possible at the combine, but this position is certainly worth watching with the looming contract situations of current wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
If one, or both, of Cobb and Nelson are gone next fall when the Packers hit the field, drafting one of these four receivers certainly could help to lessen the impact.
Expectedly, the first few questions that Fumagalli fielded from members of the media were about the fact that he only has four fingers on his left hand. This was something that happened when Fumagalli was exposed to national media during his time at Wisconsin, but did not come up on a day-to-day basis.
“Woodshop class, I guess that was my best one,” Fumagalli joked when asked what his best fake story about losing his finger was. “No, I’m pretty serious about it. I just tell people how it happened at birth. At serious events like this I don’t mess around with that stuff.
“I know it’s part of the process. [Teams] invest a lot of money in people and they need to know everything so that doesn’t bother me,” he said when asked if the questions about his missing finger annoyed him.
Fumagalli also said that he did meet with the Packers while at the combine already.
“I love the Packers. I love what they do with the offense and things like that. Yeah, I’d love to stay at home in Wisconsin.”
Saquon Barkley impresses
The Packers won’t be drafting Saquon Barkley in the draft this year. That needs to be said before the rest of this is written.
Barkley, however, has been one of the stars of the combine to this point.
In the bench press on Thursday, Barkley benched 225lbs 29 times, tied for most among the running backs with Nick Chubb from Georgia. For a point of reference, Barkley beat all but five offensive linemen at the combine.
On Friday, Barkley took part in on-field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. He tested extremely well in both the 40-yard dash and vertical leap. The Penn State product had the second fastest time in the 40-yard dash at 4.41, two hundredths of a second slower than Nyheim Hines from NC State.
Barkley was the leader at the running back positon in the vertical jump with 41 inches.
Whether or not these things will translate on to the field in the NFL remains to be seen, but his athleticism is certainly undeniable.
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.
The key to any good offense starts up front with the offensive line and Wisconsin had a very good one in the 2017 season. Three Badgers offensive lineman were recognized as All-Americans for the season with Michael Deiter, David Edwards, and Beau Benzschawel claiming a place on one of the various teams.
In the last 10 seasons, Wisconsin has had 14 offensive linemen recognized as All-American. The offensive identity of the team is always to have a good rushing attack. Wisconsin certainly fulfilled that this season as the Badgers were able to run for 229.5 yards per game, good enough for 21st nationally.
While Deiter, Edwards, and Benzschawel were all deserving of the national recognition that they received, it’s also worth noting that center Tyler Biadasz was also recognized as a consensus All-Big Ten third team member for his season.
While it’s tough for the common person to be able to break down individual offensive line play, it’s easy to tell that the offense typically will only go as far as the men up front take it. Wisconsin was able average over 30 points per game this season which certainly wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of this outstanding offensive line.
To simplify things even more, running back Jonathan Taylor would not be nearly as successful as he was without an offensive line this good.
The offensive line also provided what was arguably the most entertaining moment of the season when Deiter caught a lateral from quarterback Alex Hornibrook against Illinois and rumbled 4 yards into the end zone.
The tight end is often thought of as an extension of the offensive line in the type of offense that Wisconsin runs. The Badgers certainly utilized that position this season with Troy Fumagalli as the main threat. Fumagalli, like three of the offensive linemen, was named an All-American by several outlets for his season.
Despite missing two games due to a leg injury, he was the leading receiver for Wisconsin in 2017. He totaled 43 catches for 516 yards and reached the end zone four times. Fumagalli was Hornibrook’s security blanket throughout the season, often being found on third down for conversions or in the red zone.
Wisconsin also received contributions from Zander Neuville and Kyle Penniston throughout the year at the tight end spot. Those two primarily served more purpose as run-blockers, although they did combine for 16 catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns on the year.
GRADE: A – Simply put, offensive lines don’t get the amount of love that they deserve, but Wisconsin had one of the best in the country this season. The Badgers do not reach the heights offensively that they did this season without a really strong group up front.
INDIANAPOLIS – Wisconsin heads into Saturday’s matchup with Ohio State searching for their first Big Ten Championship since 2012. The Badgers enter the game perfect on the season at 12-0, but haven’t faced a team quite as talented as the Buckeyes to date.
The Buckeyes come into the contest at 10-2 on the season. At times, they’ve looked like one of the best teams in the country, but on other occasions they’ve looked rather pedestrian.
Here are three keys to a Badger win on Saturday night:
1. Ohio State defensive lineman Nick Bosa was awarded as the Big Ten Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the year earlier this week. The matchup between Bosa and the Wisconsin offensive line will be a very interesting one to watch on Saturday. So far, this season Bosa has 12.5 tackles for loss and six sacks and both of those marks pace the Buckeyes.
“I think [Ohio State] and Michigan had some of the best edge rushers I’ve seen this year,” offensive lineman Michael Deiter said earlier this week. “One-hundred percent it will be my biggest challenge, especially on this stage, out there at tackle.”
Not only was Deiter speaking about Bosa, but also defensive end Sam Hubbard. Hubbard was a consensus second-team All-Big Ten this year and has 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks on the year. Things don’t end there for the Buckeye defensive line, Tyquan Lewis was also a consensus first-team selection, and Dre’mont Jones was named to the third-team by the media.
Wisconsin likely has the best offensive line that Ohio State has faced this season, but this will be a true battle of strengths. The Badgers must be able to open holes for freshman running back Jonathan Taylor to help keep quarterback Alex Hornibrook out of obvious passing situations. When the Badgers do fall into obvious throwing situations, the offensive line must keep Hornibrook upright.
2. Hornibrook’s favorite target this year has been senior tight end Troy Fumagalli. He leads the Badgers with 38 grabs on the season for 471 yards and four touchdowns despite missing some time due to injury. On the contrary, Ohio State has struggled defending tight ends in the play-action passing game at times this season.
Against Iowa, the Buckeyes allowed a combined nine catches for 125 yards and four touchdowns to tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant of the Hawkeyes. Those two aren’t necessarily mirror images of Fumagalli, but the area of weakness remains on the Buckeye defense. As recent as last week there were multiple instances of intermediate routes being open for Michigan’s offense. Wolverines’ quarterback John O’Korn was unable to find his teammates, however.
Hornibrook should be able to find Fumagalli in key situations, just as he has often attempted to do this year. That’s an area of weakness that the Badgers should look to exploit.
3. When Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was removed from the game against Michigan last week immediate uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position for the Buckeyes emerged. Backup Dwayne Haskins entered the game for Ohio State and helped them to win the game.
News broke during the week that Barrett had surgery on his knee on Sunday following the Michigan game but is expected to play against Wisconsin. His effectiveness is yet to be seen. Ohio State head coach told the media that Barrett had practiced throughout the week and is cleared to play, but never declared Barrett the starter.
Barrett is a quarterback that’s able to extend plays and escape the pocket when things break down around him. If his knee isn’t right and his running ability suffers because of that, Wisconsin’s already stout defense could be in even better position. The Badgers would be able to key on running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins in running situations and presumably be able to get to Barrett easier when the pocket collapses.
Barrett has been inconsistent throwing the ball, even when he’s been healthy. Wisconsin’s defense could take control of the game and force Barrett into mistakes and make things much more difficult than they normally do. Wisconsin’s chance at winning improves exponentially if those things happen.
Prediction: Early in the week I was leaning towards taking the Buckeyes, and I did go on record picking them before news of Barrett’s knee procedure broke. His health is my deciding factor, it takes an incredibly special athlete to be able to play in a football game six days after having surgery. While I commend Barrett for having the guts to try and suit up with his teammates, I don’t think he’ll play well enough for the Buckeyes to win.
Fumagalli has played in 11 games this season, accumulating 38 receptions for 471 yards and four touchdowns. In his career, he’s caught 127 passes for 1,551 yards and seven touchdowns.
Fumagalli, an Aurora, Ill. native was also named as an All-Big Ten honoree this week as well. He was named to the first-team by the coaches and the second-team by the media. Fumagalli started his career at Wisconsin as a walk-on and was placed on scholarship prior to the beginning of the 2015 season.
Fumagalli is the second Badger to win the award, joining Jacob Pedersen in 2012.
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.
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
MADISON — It’s looking like Wisconsin will have the services of tight end Troy Fumagalli on Saturday at Nebraska.
“Troy’s been able to work every day this week and each day do a little bit more,” coach Paul Chryst told reporters. “Feel good [about him playing] barring any setback from [Thursday’s] work.”
Fumagalli is Wisconsin’s top offensive weapon, leading them in catches (15) and yards (236) despite missing last week’s game against Northwestern with a leg injury. In his place, sophomore Kyle Penniston and junior Zander Neuville combined for one catch.
Meanwhile, Chryst said that defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk, who is listed as questionable with a leg injury, practiced on Thursday and he feels good about his chances of playing on Saturday. The 6-foot-7, 303-pound redshirt freshman is a vital component to Wisconsin’s front seven, especially with senior Chikwe Obasih still out with a knee injury.
Here is Wisconsin’s full injury report:
TE Troy Fumagalli (leg)
DE Isaiahh Loudermilk (leg)
K P.J. Rosowski (leg)
MADISON — It took nearly 29 minutes, but No. 9 Wisconsin finally woke up. And once it did, the Badgers turned into a steamroller, scoring 59 unanswered points, including 49 in the second half, to beat Utah State 59-10 on Friday night at Camp Randall Stadium.
Play of the Game
Utah State led 10-7 with 1:01 left in the first half and had a first-and-10 at its own 18-yard line. The Badgers had just gotten their first points of the game, so it would have made sense for the Aggies to be satisfied with their lead and head into halftime. They apparently weren’t satisfied, as quarterback Kent Myers came out throwing and it turned into a disaster. His short toss to Carson Terrell on first down went off the receiver’s hands and right into the waiting arms of linebacker T.J. Edwards.
“That was huge,” safety D’Cota Dixon said afterwards. “It was the hammer and the nail. That’s exactly what you need, especially when you’re down. It was exactly what we needed.”
The interception only led to a field goal, but it was the first of many mistakes the rest of the way for Utah State, which would go on to turn the ball over four times.
Offense: TE Troy Fumagalli
Others were flashier, but the senior posted a career-high 105 yards receiving, picking up where he left off in Wisconsin’s Cotton Bowl victory last January.
His 15-yard catch on third-and-12 in the second quarter kept the Badgers first scoring drive of the game going, and then quarterback Alex Hornibrook found him wide open on third-and-2 early in the third quarter for a 23-yard touchdown.
With his big night, Fumagalli now sits fifth all-time in receiving yards for a tight end at Wisconsin, and will likely end up with the second-most by the time his career is over.
Defense: ILB T.J. Edwards
The junior was everywhere on Friday night, collecting seven tackles, one tackle for loss, picking off one pass and breaking up two more throws. His interception late in the second quarter proved to be the turning point in a game that Utah State led at that point.
But it wasn’t just the numbers for Edwards. It was the passion he played with, finishing off tackles with an emphasis. It was everything you’d expect out of one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.
He only kicked one field goal — from just 29 yards — but Gaglianone gets the game ball because it was his first time on the field since suffering a season-ending back injury last September.
Wisconsin didn’t need his leg to win on Friday night, but history would suggest they’ll need it at some point this season.
Video of the Game
In their own words
Jonathan Taylor describes his first career touchdown, a 13-yard scamper in the third quarter.
Quote of the Day
“I always describe Coach Chryst as a dad away from home. He’s just the same guy. He’s very smooth, very calm, very collected. But, as a father would when a child needs to be disciplined and needs to be talked to, he will discipline us. He just honestly told us the truth. We were beating ourselves a lot.”
— Dixon on the loud and direct message that coach Paul Chryst gave the team at halftime on Friday night.
In Case You Missed It
— Wisconsin’s captains were defensive end Alec James, wide receiver Jazz Peavy, tight end Troy Fumagalli and safety Natrell Jamerson. The honorary captain was Al Toon, a member of UW’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
— Several true freshmen made their debuts on Friday, including running back Jonathan Taylor, wide receiver Danny Davis, quarterback Jack Coan, cornerback Madison Cone and long snapper Adam Bay.
— Fumagalli wore No. 48 in honor of senior linebacker Jack Cichy, who will miss the year with a torn ACL. Fumagalli said it was just a one time thing, but that he really wanted to do it to show Cichy how much he meant to the team.
— Junior Zander Neuville’s first career catch turned into his first career touchdown, as he tightroped down the sideline for the 28-yard score early in the third quarter. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the extra effort of Danny Davis, who managed to block three different guys to help get the tight end into the end zone.
— Wisconsin trailed 10-0 in the first half. It was the first time the Badgers had trailed by double digits in a non-conference home game since 2012 against — you guessed it — Utah State. The Badgers won that game 16-14.
Inside the Numbers
15:19 — That’s how long it took for Wisconsin to go from down 10-0 to up 38-10.
87 — That’s the number of rushing yards for freshman Jonathan Taylor in his first career game. It included a pretty 41-yard run on the first play of the second half to jump start the offense.
99 — That was the length of Joe Ferguson’s interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the longest return in school history.
3 — That’s the number of touchdowns Alex Hornibrook threw on Friday night, a career high and 1/3 of what he threw all of last year.
478 — That’s the number of yards Wisconsin’s offense rolled up. It’s the third-highest total since Chryst took over as coach in 2015.
Wisconsin (1-0) will host Florida Atlantic next Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The Owls, in their first game under new coach Lane Kiffin, lost 42-19 to Navy on Friday.
MADISON — The University of Wisconsin will unveil its first depth chart of the season on Sunday as the Badgers begin preparations for their opener against Utah State on Friday.
Before they do, though, we thought we’d take a shot at what it might look like.
1) Alex Hornibrook (RS SO)
2) Jack Coan (FR)
Notes: The last practice the media saw was on Aug. 12, and to that point Hornibrook was having a very strong fall camp. After going 7-2 as a starter in 2016, the redshirt sophomore is now the clear leader of the offense and appears poised for big things this fall.
Coan, meanwhile, bested Kare Lyles to earn the backup job. The true freshman is still very raw, but he’s got the physical tools to be a very good quarterback at some point in his Wisconsin career.
1) Bradrick Shaw (RS SO) OR Chris James (JR)
3) Jonathan Taylor (FR)
1) Alec Ingold (JR)
2) Austin Ramesh (SR)
Notes: Shaw and James figure to each get the ball plenty this fall, though it’s unclear who will get the first snap of the season.
Behind them, things are a little murky. When healthy, junior Taiwan Deal is worthy of playing time. Unfortunately for him, he rarely has been and that was the case in fall camp. His absence allowed the most talked about player in the last 10 days — Taylor — to make big strides. The New Jersey product is in line for a much bigger role than anyone expected at the start of camp.
1) Jazz Peavy (SR) and Quintez Cephus (SO)
2) A.J. Taylor (SO) and Danny Davis (FR)
Notes: Highlight catches were the norm at practice this fall for Wisconsin, and these four made a lot of them. Peavy is dynamic with the ball in his hands, Cephus is a big play waiting to happen, Taylor is a much more polished route runner than a year ago and Davis runs and moves better than the coaches thought he would.
Injuries hit the position in fall camp, and it’s unclear when senior George Rushing (leg) and redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor (moped accident) will return.
Notes: Fumagalli is one of the best tight ends in the country and that showed during fall camp. Penniston and Neuville will both get plenty of time, with the former a nice threat in the passing game. If injuries hit, redshirt freshman Luke Benzschawel could work his way into the rotation.
LT: Michael Deiter (JR) and Cole Van Lanen (RS FR)
LG: Jon Dietzen (RS SO) and Micah Kapoi (JR)
C: Tyler Biadasz (RS FR) and Brett Connors (JR)
RG: Beau Benzschawel (JR) and Jason Erdmann (RS SO)
RT: David Edwards (RS SO) and Patrick Kasl (RS FR)
Notes: If the starting five can stay healthy, it has a chance to be a dominant group. But recent history suggests everyone won’t stay healthy and that makes depth important. Wisconsin can manage an injury at guard or center, but if one of the tackles were to go down things could get dicey.
DE: Alec James (SR) or Chikwe Obasih (SR)
NG: Olive Sagapolu (JR) and Garrett Rand (SO)
DE: Conor Sheehy (SR) and Isaiahh Loudermilk (RS FR)
Notes: Wisconsin is loaded along the line, starting with the three seniors and Sagapolu, but the future is also very bright with Rand and Loudermilk.
OLB: Leon Jacobs (SR) and Zack Baun (RS SO)
ILB: T.J. Edwards (JR) and Arrington Farrar (JR)
ILB: Chris Orr (RS SO) and Ryan Connelly (JR)
OLB: Garrett Dooley (SR) and Andrew Van Ginkel (JR)
Notes: Even after losing senior Jack Cichy to a torn ACL in camp, the inside linebackers are stacked with Edwards, Orr and Connelly.
On the outside, Jacobs has the chance to be an absolute terror when rushing the passer.
CB: Nick Nelson (JR) and Dontye Carriere-Williams (RS FR)
S: D’Cota Dixon (JR) and Joe Ferguson (SR)
S: Natrell Jamerson (SR) and Patrick Johnson (SO)
CB: Derrick Tindal (SR) and Lubern Figaro (SR)
Notes: The hype around Nelson, a transfer from Hawaii, is real and deserved. With him and Tindal, the Badgers have one of the better tandems in the Big Ten.
Carriere-Williams and Figaro were still battling for the nickel spot when camp closed to the media.
Jamerson continued to look more and more comfortable at safety after moving from cornerback, while Dixon is ready to build on what was a pretty good first year as a starter.
Kicker: Rafael Gaglianone (JR) and Zach Hintze (RS SO)
Punter: Anthony Lotti (SO) and P.J. Rosowski (JR)
Kick return: A.J. Taylor (RS SO) and Chris James (JR)
Punt return: Nick Nelson (JR) and Jazz Peavy (SR)
Adam Bay (FR)
Notes: Gaglianone seemed to be hitting the ball well during camp and is now fully healthy after missing the final 11 games of 2016 with a back injury. Rosowski earned a scholarship this week in large part due to his work on kickoffs.
Nelson is extremely smooth as a punt returner, while Taylor and James are nice options as kick returners.