Wisconsin’s 2016 schedule was ranked the hardest by CBS Sports before the season began, though the Badgers had the last laugh. Capping off the season with a Cotton Bowl victory and an impressive 11-3 record, the Badgers surprised most in the football community by surviving relatively unscathed, despite losses to highly ranked Michigan, Ohio State and Big Ten Champion Penn State. With that being said, there may be no better indicator to the tough nature of the Wisconsin’s schedule than the plethora of elite prospects potentially going in the top 10 of this years NFL draft. Here’s a look at the best of Wisconsin’s opponents hearing their name called in the NFL draft on April 27.
Round 1, Pick 3: Jamal Adams (LSU)
What He Did vs. Wisconsin: Wisconsin faced a highly ranked LSU side when they traveled to Lambeau Field to open up their 2016 campaign. While Adams only registered five tackles, his leadership in the secondary and physicality in the box set the tone for three forced turnovers and only one touchdown as Wisconsin snuck out of Green Bay with victory number one.
Draft Evaluation: Most cite Adams as the top ranked safety in this year’s draft and a perennial top 10 draft pick. Many cite him to have the least “bust” potential out of anyone in this year’s draft. His ability to defend against the run and play the deep third has garnered national attention.
NFL Player Comparison: Landon Collins
Round 1, Pick 5: Marshon Lattimore (OSU)
What He Did vs. Wisconsin: In Wisconsin’s first and only loss at Camp Randall, Lattimore had nine total tackles and played a big part in Wisconsin’s seven-point second half. He put Wisconsin wide receiver Robert Wheelwright on an island, with Wheelwright only having two receptions.
Draft Evaluation: By far the No. 1 cornerback in the draft, Lattimore fits the need Tennessee has at the fifth draft spot for a true shut down corner. His superior athleticism and ball skills were on full display at the combine where he ran a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash.
NFL Player Comparison: Joe Haden
Round 1, Pick 7: Malik Hooker (OSU)
What He Did vs. Wisconsin: Hooker and Lattimore, mentioned above, were extremely efficient in the secondary during Ohio State’s 30-23 victory in overtime. He registered six tackles in the win.
Draft Evaluation: Hooker is a raw, ball-hawking safety with a knack for forcing turnovers. He had six interceptions on the season and is a prime target for the Chargers who recently lost Eric Weddle to the Baltimore Ravens.
NFL Player Comparsion: Patrick Tillman
Round 1, Pick 8: Leonard Fournette (LSU)
What He Did vs. Wisconsin: In week 1, Fournette had 176 all-purpose yards, including a huge 31-yard reception and a 30-yard run. Fournette left late in the game with an ankle injury.
Draft Evaluation: Regarded as the top running back prospect in the draft, with arguably the highest ceiling in the draft, Fournette’s size and speed combination has him ranked near the top. His durability does raise some questions, however, after playing in only seven games of 2016 college season. Scouts are eager to see if he can be the workhorse he is hyped up to be. Carolina could use a do-it-all running back to partner to compliment former MVP Cam Newton in the backfield.
NFL Player Comparison: Bo Jackson
Round 1, Pick 10: Corey Davis (WMU)
What He Did vs. Wisconsin: Western Michigan’s run to the Cotton Bowl, and a surprisingly successful 13-1 record with their only loss coming to Wisconsin, is due largely in part to the consistent greatness of wide receiver Corey Davis. Against Wisconsin he had six catches for 73 yards and a highlight reel touchdown late in the game. Despite the loss, Davis exposed the Wisconsin secondary, including fellow draft prospect Sojourn Shelton.
Draft Evaluation: With a highly athletic and competitive wide receiver class, Davis sets himself apart by his route running and soft hands. Davis totaled 333 receptions and 52 touchdowns while shattering the NCAA record for most career receiving yards with 5,285 yards in his four year tenure at Western Michigan. The Buffalo Bills need a playmaker to play alongside Sammy Watkins, and Davis brings an unmatched pedigree to a relatively young team.
NFL Player Comparison: Terrell Owens
Other Top Draft Notables:
Gareon Conley (OSU)
Tre’Davious White (LSU)
Taco Charlton (Mich)
Jabrill Peppers (Mich)
Malik McDowell (MSU)