One of the best parts of the college football bowl season is watching the guys who are going to play on Sundays in the very near future.
Here at Cheesehead TV, we're attempting to list all the senior pro prospects (even the longshots) and a couple very highly rated junior ones as well, as a de facto viewing guide.
Rose Bowl–Saturday Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN
- Defensive end J.J. Watt–Only a junior, but it's appearing as if he'll declare for the draft because he's being viewed as a first-round draft choice albeit probably mid- to late first round. Absolutely exploded on the scene in 2010. Appeared on many second-team All-America lists but probably deserved first-team status. The stats are almost overwhelming with 21 tackles for a loss, 10 hurries, seven sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and three blocked kicks. Rised to the occasion in big games like Wisconsin's victory over Ohio State. If anything holds him back it's that he appears to love Wisconsin and college football, but that first-round money is going to be hard to pass up. Is probably good enough to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
- Gabe Carimi–The accoloades are there: first-team All-American by most services, Outland Trophy winner, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. I used to have big-time reservations about Carimi because he doesn't seem to have the quickness to handle speed rushers. But as long as he's utilized on the right side, most of those reservations can probably be negated. Has the ability to be a top-notch right tackle too. Dominating run blocker, as evidenced by Wisconsin's nearly unstoppable ground game. Could be late first-round pick, but more likely to land in the second round.
- Lance Kendricks–He's not an in-line blocker, but that doesn't seem to matter in the NFL. Made from the same mold as Jermichael Finley, Dustin Keller and a host of other modern-day tight ends in the NFL. He has a way to go to prove he's at the same level as a Finley or a Keller, but the tools are there. Led the Badgers in receiving this year with 39 catches for 627 yards and five touchdowns and would have been even better if not limited by a nagging leg injury. Had a breakout game in last year's Champs Sports Bowl when he had seven receptions for 128 yards. He's the third-ranked senior tight end by NFL Draft Scout and an approximate third-round draft choice.
- John Moffitt–A first-team Associated Press All-American. He's the sixth-ranked senior guard by NFL Draft Scout, which makes him a likely third or fourth round draft choice. Could be a steal. He's asked to do just about everything at Wisconsin: trap, pull, you name it, which should serve him well at the next level.
- Scott Tolzien–He's not mobile and he doesn't have a strong arm, by NFL standards, but he's crazy accurate. He completed nearly three quarters of his passes this season, 74.3%, which led the nation and will probably break the Big Ten single-season record following today's game. He's probably never going to be a starter in the NFL, but he could make a long career out of being a career backup. I don't know how anybody could have Ricky Stanzi ranked ahead of Tolzien. He's the 10th-ranked senior quarterback by NFL Draft Scout and a predicted seventh-round draft choice.
- John Clay–Clay's a junior but could make the jump to the NFL, which would probably be in his best interests. I don't think he'll be successful in the NFL, but his stock might be at its highest it'll get. He's probably the third-best back at Wisconsin behind James White and Montee Ball, and could see his playing time and stock decrease if he comes back for another year of college. People don't like hearing that he's the third-best back at Wisconsin after being the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year in 2009, but it's really the truth. He does have value as a guy that can grind and pound out the tough yards in short-yardage situations, but he's not a feature back. NFL Draft Scout has him as the 10th-ranked running back in the junior class. He won't be the next P.J. Hill; he's better than that.
- Jay Valai–He's a good college player, but probably not a good pro player. Mainly because he's only 5-9, maybe shorter. He's a hard hitter, but he'll also miss tackles trying to make the big hit. His best chance at making a pro roster is as a special teams demon that can add depth at safety, like a team's fourth or fifth guy.
- Culmer St. Jean–Doesn't have what it takes to play at the next level. He had just enough to get by in the Big Ten. He's the 26th-ranked senior inside linebacker by NFL Draft Scout. Not enough footspeed. He'll be lucky to sign a contract as an undrafted free agent.
- David Gilreath–Best remembered for returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the Ohio State game. He's had an up and down career. Averaged more than 25.0 yards per kickoff return this season, but less than 20.0 yards in 2008. His best chance to make it in the pros is as a kick return specialist, but he would only be the fifth or sixth-best wide receiver on any team in the pros. He's the 61st-ranked senior receiver by NFL Draft Scout.
- Kyle Jefferson–Because he's 6-3 he might get some looks, but he wasn't able to produce much at Wisconsin. He's the 92nd-ranked senior receiver by NFL Draft Scout.
- Issac Anderson–I personally think he's underrated, but like Gilreath, he's too short to be considered at the next level. He had more than 20 catches in each of his last three seasons.
- Niles Brinkley–Does a good job keeping plays in front of him, but that alone is not going to cut it in the NFL. He's the 50th-ranked senior cornerback by NFL Draft Scout, but the only time you might hear his name in conjunction with the NFL is at Wisconsin' pro day.
- Nick Toon–He'll be back in college. If he declares, it would be a big mistake. By the same token, he could greatly improve his draft stock with a good senior season.
- Tackle Marcus Cannon–He gets away with being a 350-pound left tackle in the college, but there's no way he can play on the left side at that weight in the pros. He played on the right side prior to his senior season and has success there. He does move pretty well for his size, however. Earned first-team All-Mountain West each of the past two seasons. He's the 6th-ranked senior tackle by NFL Draft Scout and could go as high as the second round.
- Center Jake Kirkpatrick–Was the Rimington Award winner this season. Received All-American honors the past two seasons. He's the 4th-ranked senior center by NFL Draft Scout, which makes him a mid-round draft choice. The presence of Kirkpatrick and Cannon makes me more worry about the Wisconsin defensive line, who's not all that good outside of J.J. Watt.
- Quarterback Andy Dalton–He was the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year for two consecutive seasons. A lot like Scott Tolzien, he doesn't have a great arm, but he's accurate and he doesn't try to do too much. He doesn't force throws. He's a better prospect than Tolzien because he's a better all-around athlete that can run with the ball. At more than 6-2, he's got enough size. He should be a mid-round draft choice and has a chance to become an NFL starter down the line if he can become an improved thrower. He's the 6th-ranked senior quarterback by NFL Draft Scout.
- Safety Tejay Johnson–On a team known for its defense, he's probably its best defensive player. First-team All-American by most services. Led TCU in interceptions and forced fumbles this season with three apiece. Helped TCU become the top-ranked defense in the entire nation against the pass and in scoring defense. He's the fifth-ranked senior free safety by NFL Draft Scout and a projected mid-round draft choice.
- Outside linebacker Wayne Daniels–Led TCU in tackles for a loss and was a first-team All-Mountain West selection. He's the 11th-ranked outside linebacker by NFL Draft Scout.
- Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley–He's a passable NFL wide receiver, but he has more value as a kick returner. The 17th-ranked senior wide receiver by NFL Draft Scout. He could be a mid- to late-round draft choice, but I've heard he also has a 95 mph fast ball. Guys like that are given a look in MLB. Has less than ideal height for both an NFL wide receiver and a MLB pitcher at 5-10, however.
- Cornerback Jason Teauge–Plays a lot of man defense and does a pretty good job at it; TCU, after all, does have the top-ranked pass defense in the nation. He's the 24-ranked senior cornerback by NFL Draft Scout, which could make him a late-round draft choice. At 6-2, he's got the height teams like the Packers love in their corners.
- Defensive tackle Cory Grant–He's the 18th-ranked senior defensive tackle by NFL Draft Scout, which could make him a late-round draft choice as well. He's got decent size at 6-2 and 305 pounds. Today will be a big test for him. If he can hold up against Wisconsin's pounding offensive line, he can probably hold his own in the pros.
- Safety Alex Ibiloye–He's the 17th-ranked senior free safety by NFL Draft Scout but appears to be more of the undrafted free agent type.
- Like Like
- 2 points