No. 117: Jeff Duckworth, #15, WR, Wisconsin
2011 Stats: 15 catches, 230 yards, 1 TD
Duckworth didn't have a ton of production in 2011, but he did have a flair for the dramatic in the plays he made. He scored his only touchdown of the season on an early score in the Big Ten Championship Game, then pulled down a memorable 36-yard prayer on 4th and 7 that kept the Badgers' season alive. He's got good speed and good enough size to out-muscle most cornerbacks. He's been improving on his route-running for 2012, which is going to be crucial if he wants to stay on the field.
Duckworth hasn't established himself as the clear No. 2 wide receiver in Wisconsin's offense quite yet, though he's got the inside track as the most experienced and productive receiver aside from Jared Abbrederis. We mentioned that his route-running is improving; that's a nice way to say it's still not where it needs to be. And while his speed is good enough that he's a deep threat, he can be (and has been) caught from behind.
The move from third wide receiver to second in the Wisconsin offense is crucial. In 2010, Jared Abbrederis collected all of 20 catches for 289 yards as the Badgers' third wide receiver. In 2011, he went for 55 and 933.
The formula for Wisconsin's offense shouldn't change dramatically in 2012--especially not after new offensive coordinator Matt Canada had to promise fans it wouldn't after being hired. So as long as there's eight men in the box against the Badger rushing attack and Jared Abbrederis is the first target of deep help, Duckworth should find himself in a lot of 1-on-1 situations, and that should mean significant production.
We won't say 933 yards and eight scores are on the table, but he might get pretty close.