Top 25 NFL Draft Rankings: Reloading No. 25 Wisconsin kicks off our countdown
No shocker here: A lineman and a RB are among the Badgers' top NFL prospects
In the days leading to the start of the college football season, NFL Draft Scout will count down the top-25 college programs, according to draft-eligible NFL talent on the roster.
Wisconsin Badgers: No. 25
Wisconsin Draft History
NFL Draft picks the last 10 years: 34 (t-20th in college football)
NFL Draft picks the last five years: 18 (t-19th in college football)
2016 NFL Draft Rewind
Draft picks: 2
(4/99) LB Joe Schobert
(6/198) FB Derek Watt
Undrafted free agents: QB Joel Stave, OT Tyler Marz, WR Alex Erickson, S Michael Caputo, TE Austin Traylor, TE/DB Tanner McEvoy, CB Darius Hillary
Looking ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft
With LSU, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State among the Badgers' first six opponents on the 2016 schedule, NFL scouts will learn a lot about this Wisconsin squad early in the season. The Badgers need to replace their leading passer (Joel Stave), receiver (Alex Erickson) and defender (Joe Schobert) from a year ago, but will receive a boost with several players returning from injury, most notably running back Corey Clement and interior offensive lineman Dan Voltz, who are both on the NFL radar.
Below are the top draft-eligible prospects on the Badgers' roster for the next level.
Last season Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert converted a productive senior campaign into a top-100 draft pick and Biegel will be looking to do the same this year. He started all 13 games in 2015 as the boundary outside linebacker and is projected to take over Schobert's field linebacker spot in 2016. Biegel, who finished last season with 66 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks, is the unquestioned leader of the Wisconsin defense, which is now under the direction of veteran coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Similar to Schobert, Biegel is an active athlete with the relentless hustle that makes him pesky for blockers to engage and control. He uses heavy hands to work off contact and leverage gaps, allowing him to be productive vs. the run and as a pass rusher. Biegel has struggled in coverage due to tight movements, but his ability to break down on the move and attack upfield sets the tone for the Wisconsin defense.
After productive seasons from Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon, Clement was assumed to be the next big thing at running back for the Badgers and a future early round draft choice. However, that plan was spoiled last season due to medical and disciplinary issues. Clement suffered a sports hernia injury in the 2015 season opener, which required surgery and kept him sidelined for most of the season. He was also suspended for one game following his actions in an off-campus altercation.
Clement has been highly productive as part of the Wisconsin backfield with 1,717 career rushing yards, 6.6 yards per carry average and 21 touchdowns. He runs with first step burst to press holes, dart through creases and quickly attack the second level, running decisive and behind his pads. Clement doesn't run with consistent power, but shows toughness between the tackles and is reliable catching the ball out of the backfield. Despite his disappointing 2015 season, Clement enters his final season in Madison as one of the top-five senior running back prospects for the 2017 class.
Similar to Clement at running back, Voltz was tabbed as the next early round center prospect for the Badgers, looking to follow in the footsteps of Peter Konz and Travis Frederick, who were both top-55 draft picks. He earned All-Big Ten honors in 2014 and was a candidate to leave school early for the NFL after the 2015 season, but suffered a torn ACL and lateral meniscus in his right knee last October and missed the second half of the season.
Voltz is quick off the snap with excellent reaction movements to handle both speed and power rushers. He isn't the most coordinated in tight spaces, but is able to re-anchor, remain patient and keep his elbows inside to square with defenders. With redshirt sophomore Michael Deiter impressing at center, Voltz will likely move to guard this season once fully healthy, which could enhance his NFL profile if he returns to his 2014 form.
Entering his fourth season as a starting cornerback, Shelton has had plenty of up and down moments over his 37 collegiate starts for the Badgers. After four interceptions as a true freshman, he struggled as a sophomore before making significant strides as a junior, but still needs to cut down on the mistakes for him to be considered a draftable NFL prospect.
Although undersized by NFL standards, Shelton is a fluid athlete with the click-and-close speed to break quickly and make plays on the ball. While his movement skills allow him to recover quickly, there are too many instances on tape of him failing to anticipate routes, leaving him flat-footed and allowing receivers to speed past him. If he is able to hone his aggressive tendencies and hold up in run support, then Shelton might be able to stick at the next level in the slot.
Other draft-eligible prospects to watch
- Bart Houston, QB, rSR. (6-3, 232, 4.93, #13)
- Dare Ogunbowale, RB, rSR. (5-11, 200, 4.50, #23)
- Robert Wheelwright, WR, SR. (6-2, 202, 4.54, #15)
- ChikweObasih, DE, rJR. (6-2, 268, 4.82, #34)
- T.J. Edwards, ILB, rSO. (6-1, 238, 4.79, #53)
- Jack Cichy, ILB, rJR. (6-1, 223, 4.79, #48)
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