Year in and year out the University of Wisconsin-Madison football program has produced some top tier NFL talent.
Only a few hours away, the Packers need not look any further than their home state for possible late-round value picks or just straight up steals. Almost all of their positions of need can possibly be addressed, in some way, by former Badgers. Cornerbacks, linebacker, tight end, edge rushers; you name it and the Badgers have an answer.
They don’t have top, first round talents. But the late rounds are were hay could be made.
Jack Cichy (LB): Sixth Round
In the 2016 Holiday Bowl win against USC, Cichy fought his way onto the scene. On a pivotal second half drive by the Trojans, Cichy sacked quarterback Sam Darnold three straight times.
The next season, his junior year, Cichy fought through and tried playing through a torn pectoral muscle. But in only seven games totaled 60 total tackles (45 of which were solo), 7.0 tackles for lose and 1.5 sacks.
A torn ACL took away what was his senior season. So questions about his knee and durability are credible as he hasn’t played a game in over a year. His athleticism, however, is not up for debate.
(Read here about Cichy’s return from an ACL injury)
At Wisconsin’s Pro Day a week ago, Cichy ran a 4.19 20 yard shuttle which would have put him at the top end of linebackers for that drill at the combine. What’s most important about this is that it shows he can still quickly change direction.
On a less than 100 percent knee, that is even more impressive. Taking a sixth round flier on a guy like Cichy with all of the athletic intangibles is a no-brainer here for the Packers.
Nick Nelson (CB): Third Round
I know what you’re thinking, the third round is not a late round, hence this is not a late-round steal. But you might be able to snatch him up in the early fourth round, with would be an absolute steal.
While he is valued as a third-rounder, he could very well drop into the top of the fourth round. Suddenly it is looking a lot better considering the Packers now own the top pick of the fourth round via the Damarious Randall trade with the Cleveland Browns.
Cornerback is the biggest hole on the Packers right now. And by biggest whole I mean it is not even close. Think of an eternal sink hole that can never be filled no matter what you throw at it. I digress.
So don’t expect the fourth round to be where the Packers start to address the issue. But they also won’t stop after the second round. Nelson led all of college football with 21 pass break ups in 2017.
He did not haul in an interception, but showed an elite ability to stay with any receiver in the Big Ten. His 3.88 20 yard shuttle would have been the best among cornerbacks at the combine.
(Read here about all of the Wisconsin Pro Day performances)
Nelson would not provide immediate on the field impact for the Packers, but would add very talented depth to a hurting position of need.
Troy Fumagalli (TE): Fifth Round
Prior to the 2017 college football season, Fumagalli came in as one of the top-two rated tight ends in the whole country. After only posting 547 receiving yards, battling through injury and only logging four touchdowns, however, his stock has fallen off.
After the Packers signed Jimmy Graham to a three-year contract, there is not much need for a top tight end prospect. But unless they plan on re-signing Richard Rodgers, they have a need for a quality backup option.
Specifically one who can block. And if there is one thing you can take to the bank about a Wisconsin tight end, it’s their blocking ability.
Graham has always been a receiver trapped in a tight end’s body, so bringing in Fumagalli with a fifth round pick would be a great value pick for the Packers.
Natrell Jamerson (S): Seventh Round
Again, it can not be stressed enough even if it is like beating a dead horse at this point, the Packers need defensive back field help. You won’t find much upside in the seventh round or potentially, an undrafted free agent.
Enter free safety Natrell Jamerson.
He never made much a name for himself for the Badgers, overshadowed by a stacked linebacking core and Nick Nelson, but Jamerson has the athleticism. A 4.40 second 40 yard dash time to go along with a jaw dropping 25 reps at the bench press garners attention.
For the Badgers in 2017, he tallied 32 solo tackles, 3.2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He has also spent his whole college career as on the Badgers special team squad.
In 2015, Jamerson was the special teams player of the year for the Badgers.
The Packers have never had a competent backup for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, adding Jamerson could possibly change that. It will also add experienced help on the special teams front.