Six former Wisconsin football players recently received invites to the NFL Combine in March. The group consists of four seniors – linebacker Vince Biegel, running backs Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale, and cornerback Sojourn Shelton – and two juniors – offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and linebacker T.J. Watt. During the combine, hundreds of former college football standouts participate in a series of exercises designed to show case their athletic ability, which can make an impact on a player’s draft stock.
For Vince Biegel, what he lacks in size and athletic talent, he makes up with for his leadership skills and love for the sport. Biegel is known as an excellent team leader both on and off the field. He is a workhorse, so despite his weaknesses, coaches can be assured that he will put in the effort needed to succeed at the next level. It is possible that he won’t make an immediate impact for his new team, but with practice and conditioning, he could make a big impact on special teams. Biegel has great instincts and attitude which will make it possible for him to have success at the next level.
In his first two years with the Badgers, it seemed Corey Clement had the potential to be a future star. Despite sitting behind a Heisman contender Melvin Gordon, Clement still ran for nearly 1,000 yards as a sophomore. Clement has the athletic talent, strength, and speed that NFL teams are looking for, but scouts are worried about his attitude and lack of patience. While Clement was hurt during the 2015 season, it was reported that he checked out mentally and had an off the field altercation. In terms of his football skills, he is impatient when plays are developing. He tends to run up the back of blockers, rather than let his blockers create a hole for him. Clement has pieces of his game he needs to work on, but has potential as a committee back.
With Clement getting most of the spot light in the run game, Dare Ogunbowale remained a hidden figure for much of his career in Wisconsin. He is an average athlete who lacks a dynamic run style. Despite his simple run style, he should continue to be used as a third down back in the NFL, as long as he continues to make good decisions and sees the field well.
Sojourn Shelton likely lacks the size and athletic ability to make an impact in the NFL. At only 5’9”, many NFL wide receivers tower over him, and considering that cornerbacks are usually some of the quickest players on the field, it seems unlikely that he will make an impact on an NFL roster. Still, he’s incredibly athletic and had many highlights in his Wisconsin career, so the star potential is there.
Despite only playing a single season of D-I college football, Ryan Ramzcyk has caught the eyes of NFL scouts. As a good athlete at 6’6” and with a good football IQ, Ramzyck has the size to compete at a higher level. He is coming from a program that prepares linemen from an NFL scheme, and many Wisconsin offensive tackles have success in the NFL. His biggest weakness right now is a torn labrum in his hip. He recently had surgery and will not get the opportunity to participate in the combine. He could potentially be a first round draft pick and make an immediate impact at the next level, likely at left tackle.
As the youngest brother of J.J. Watt, T.J. Watt certainly knows football. 2016 was his first full season playing and starting for Wisconsin, but he constantly produced at a very high level. He has good hand play, which will be important for him because he lacks explosiveness. He is not extremely fast, but has the technique needed to be a good linebacker. He is a hard worker who should continue to pressure quarterbacks as a professional.
Most people can only dream about becoming a professional athlete, but for these six Badgers, the opportunity is presenting itself. We won’t know where they end up until April, but the journey starts now.