Green Bay Packers: Will Ted Thompson Finally Draft a Wisconsin Badger This Year?
General manager Ted Thompson, of the Green Bay Packers, usually attends the pro day of the Wisconsin Badgers before any given draft. If he's not there, he has other scouting representatives of the Packers in attendance.
Even so, Thompson has never drafted a Badger.
Thompson has run the front office for the Packers since 2005, and he has drafted nine players from the Big Ten conference but not one from Wisconsin.
That could change in the 2014 NFL draft, which will take place starting May 8.
I'm going to list seven players from Wisconsin who have a chance to be selected by Thompson and the Packers at some point during the draft.
Linebacker Chris Borland
Weight: 248 pounds
Linebacker Chris Borland is one player who I could definitely see playing for the Packers. In fact, I had the Packers taking him in two of my mock drafts, including this one from just after the NFL Scouting Combine.
If the Packers aren't able to draft linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama in the first round, Borland would be the next inside linebacker they should try to select in the draft.
Borland had a fabulous career at Wisconsin, as he had 420 tackles, 50 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks, three interceptions, 18 passes defended and 14 forced fumbles.
That production is the epitome of being a playmaker. That is what the Packers desperately need on defense, as well.
Borland looked very comfortable in the new 3-4 defensive alignment the Badgers utilized in 2013.
NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock has Borland ranked as the second-best inside linebacker on his board, only behind Mosley.
Wide Receiver Jared Abbrederis
Weight: 195 pounds
The 2014 NFL draft is one of the deeper drafts in terms of talent in many years, especially at wide receiver.
The Packers will most likely be looking to add to their wide receiver depth because of the loss of James Jones to free agency and also knowing both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb will be eligible to be unrestricted free agents in 2015.
That is why selecting a wide receiver like Jared Abbrederis makes sense. I had the Packers taking him in my last mock draft, as a matter of fact.
Abbrederis had a great career as a Badger, as he had 202 receptions for 3,140 yards and 23 touchdowns. The former walk-on was also a dangerous return man on punts and kickoffs.
Here is what scout Chris Landry told me about Abbrederis recently:
"Jared Abbrederis. I like him. I think he's a really good X-receiver. Can be a three or a four in the league. He's smart, and he runs good routes. He's got good quickness.
"He's sneaky vertical. Listen, he's one of the many guys, maybe as many as 16, 17 or 18 wide receivers that I think can be starters eventually in this league out of this draft class."
Tight End Jacob Pedersen
Weight: 238 pounds
The Packers also will look to be adding to the tight end depth on the team during the draft, as it looks like Jermichael Finley's career in Green Bay is over mostly due to medical concerns because of his neck injury.
I addressed that situation in this story. Now, the Packers did re-sign Andrew Quarless after he tested free agency for a brief period, but Green Bay will most likely be looking to add another tight end to the depth chart, which includes Quarless, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick and Jake Stoneburner.
One of the tight ends who the Packers might look at in the draft is Jacob Pedersen. I had the Packers taking Pedersen in my very first mock draft this year.
Pedersen is a player who can be drafted on the third day of the draft but could still help the team. No. 48 had a nice four-year career at Wisconsin, as he had 104 receptions for 1,394 and 17 touchdowns.
Pedersen is also used to run-blocking. Even though the Badger utilize a pro-style offense, the running game will always be king in Madison.
Wisconsin tight ends have been able to find their way on NFL rosters as of late and produce, as Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham can attest to.
Nose Tackle Beau Allen
Weight: 329 pounds
The Packers will probably be looking for a nose tackle in this draft. The Packers did-re-sign B.J. Raji to man that position, but he only received a one-year deal.
The team also signed Letroy Guion as a free agent, but it never hurts to add some talented girth to help in the trenches.
That is where Beau Allen fits in. Allen played defensive tackle in the 4-3 for three years at Wisconsin before becoming a nose tackle his senior year in Madison, as the Badgers switched to a 3-4 defense.
The Badgers had one of the best defenses in the country last season, as Wisconsin ranked in the top 10 in pass defense, run defense, scoring defense and total defense.
Allen had a nice career with the Badgers, as he had 94 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and one forced fumble.
Allen looks to be another third-day selection in the draft.
Offensive Lineman Ryan Groy
Weight: 316 pounds
The Packers did draft an offensive lineman from Wisconsin in 2000, when Ron Wolf selected Mark Tauscher that year. That decision by Wolf turned out pretty good, as Tauscher was an anchor at right tackle for almost a decade.
One attribute the Packers are attracted to in drafting offensive linemen recently is versatility.
Ryan Groy fits the profile very well.
Groy started at all the positions across the offensive line for the Badgers during his four-year career. He looks to be a better inside fit at either guard or center in the NFL.
Groy started 33 games for the Badgers in his career.
He also looks to be a third-day draft selection.
Running Back James White
Weight: 204 pounds
I would not expect the Packers to select running back James White in the upcoming draft. Not because he isn't talented—he does fit their offensive scheme well—but because of the current depth the Packers have at running back.
As of now, the Packers have Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Johnathan Franklin and Michael Hill on the depth chart.
The only way I could see the Packers even thinking about drafting a back like White is if they are planning to trade one of the backup running backs.
I don't see that happening. At least now.
White had a great career at Wisconsin, as he rushed for 4,015 yards and had 45 touchdowns on the ground. He was also a great option in the passing game, as he had 73 receptions for 670 yards and three more scores.
White most likely won't be drafted by the Packers, but he will make some team in the NFL pretty happy about selecting him.
Safety Dez Southward
Weight: 211 pounds
I don't think there is any doubt the Packers will be adding to the depth at safety in this year's draft after the putrid play by the safeties on the team in 2013.
The Packers saw M.D. Jennings leave via free agency to join the Bears after the team didn't give a him a tender offer as a restricted free agent. The loss of Jennings will actually be a gain for the Packers in the big picture at safety.
It's also expected Micah Hyde will be given every opportunity to compete at the safety position alongside Morgan Burnett.
Even with those developments, I expect the Packers to select at least one safety in this year's draft and perhaps even two.
If they go the latter route, Dez Southward would be someone the Packers might be interested in.
Southward played four years with the Badgers and had 152 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, 12 passes defensed and one forced fumble.
Southward is still developing, as he only played one year of football in high school.
The former Badger also had a great pro day in front of people like Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst of the Packers.