2011 NFL Draft: In Mocking the Wisconsin Badgers, Where Will Watt, Carimi Go?
With the 2011 NFL Draft only a couple of days away, it's time to take a peek into where the 2010 Big Ten Champion Wisconsin Badgers players could potentially go. Capping a fantastic 2010 football season where the Badgers finished 11-1, including a win over #1 Ohio State, Wisconsin ended their season with a loss in the Rose Bowl to Texas Christian University.
After the season, defensive leader and team captain JJ Watt decided to forgo his final season of collegiate football to pursue his dream of competing in the NFL. His presence will surely be missed by the Badgers as they wish him well on his future success in the NFL.
Senior quarterback Scott Tolzien won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, annually going to the Nation's top senior quarterback, after leading the Badgers in his final season and finishing with one of the highest efficiency ratings in the country.
Senior LT Gabe Carimi won the Outland Trophy, annually given to the Nation's top lineman. He joins Joe Thomas (drafted third overall in 2006) as the most recent Badgers to receive the award.
Now, it's time to check on where all your favorite Badgers could potentially go, and we start with Wisconsin's top prospect...
JJ Watt: Defensive End
JJ Watt - Defensive end
Accolades: Lott IMPACT Trophy winner, AP second team All-American, first-team All-Big Ten
Predicted Round: 1st
Potential landing spots: Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers
Watt has become somewhat difficult to mock, as his stock has been rumored to be as high as 10th overall (Washington), to as late as 27th (Atlanta).
Watt boasts an incredible work ethic to go with his amazing athleticism, making him a high-motor and non-stop effort player who is relentless against the run, and more than efficient against the pass. He fills out at 6'6'' and 292, posting some of the best numbers at the combine for a defensive end. He figures to be at his best as a 3-4 end, where the ends are meant for more rush containment than pass rushing, allowing the outside linebackers to rush the quarterback. Wherever he ends up, he will give his new team an incredible athlete who is willing to get dirty in the running game, while proving to be a leader on the field and an inspiration off it; allowing for growth of his "Work Hard Dream Big" motto and the continuation of the "JJ Watt Foundation," which influences children to partake in after school activities.
Verdict: 17th Overall; New England Patriots
Gabe Carimi: Offensive Tackle
Gabe Carimi - Offensive tackle
Accolades: 2010 Outland Trophy winner, consensus first team All-American, Big Ten offensive Lineman of the year, first team all-Big Ten
Predicted Round: 1st
Potential landing spots: New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears
Carimi was one of the best linemen in the country last season, as he and fellow lineman John Moffitt formed the best left side in college football as All-Americans. Carimi played left tackle at Wisconsin, but will most likely move to the right side in the NFL, as he is a mauler on the outside and the perfect grinder in the running game who will use technique and power to overmatch his opponents. He routinely shut down premier defensive ends in the Big Ten, giving up a combined ZERO sacks to Iowa end Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State end Cameron Heyward, and Purdue end Ryan Kerrigan; all of whom are projected first round picks. His frame sits at 6'7'' and 327 pounds, a mammoth on the line who will provide great value to the team who drafts him in the mid-to-late first round.
Verdict: 21st overall; Kansas City Chiefs
Lance Kendricks: Tight End
Lance Kendricks - Tight end
Accolades: SI Second team All-American, First team All-Big Ten, John Mackey Award finalist
Projected round: 2nd to 4th
Potential landing spots: Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams
Kendricks was one-half of quarterback Scott Tolzien's security blanket all year long, the other being WR Nick Toon. He boats near perfect size for a professional tight end, checking in at 6'4" and 241 pounds, making him an athletic threat over the middle and he possesses enough speed to cause concern in the open field, evidenced by his 4.73 forty-yard dash time. While his time won't blow scouts away, he has proven to have decent potential in terms catching the ball. His blocking leaves a little to be desired, and could be improved by solid coaching at the next level. He follows Owen Daniels, Travis Beckum, and Garrett Graham as former Badger tight ends who are drafted in the middle rounds of the draft. His production probably falls between Daniels and Beckum, as a borderline spot-starter and quality back-up; or one who could develop into a serviceable starter to be paired with a young starting quarterback.
Verdict: 78th overall, 3rd round; St. Louis Rams
John Moffitt: Offensive Guard
John Moffitt - Offensive Guard
Accolades: AP first-team All-American, consensus first-team All-Big Ten
Projected round: 2nd to 4th
Potential landing spots: Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars
Moffitt teamed with Gabe Carimi to form one of the best linemen duos in College Football, and arguably the best left side in the game. He fills in at 6'5" and a robust 323 pounds, giving him more than adequate size for the prototypical guard. While he employs his prankster attitude off the field, his mean streak rears it's bearded face on the field as the notorious jokester adopts the perfect game face, showing he knows when to take the game seriously. Moffitt will be a middle round selection, and has the potential to be a solid starting guard for the team that drafts him, providing a steady presence on the interior of the offensive line.
Verdict: 84th overall, 3rd round; Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scott Tolzien: Quarterback
Scott Tolzien - Quarterback
Accolades: 2010 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner, second-team All-Big Team, academic All-Big Ten
Projected round: 6th to UFA
Tolzien checks in at a modest 6'3", 205 pounds. He isn't necessarily small, but also doesn't possess ideal size for starting quarterbacks, making him a late round pick who's ideal job would be to emulate former Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi. His arm and legs won't wow scouts, but his decision making is sound, as he led the Big Ten in quarterback efficiency rating and only threw six interceptions compared to his 16 touchdowns. He also completed 72.9% of his passes and threw for over 2,400 yards.
He orchestrated the Badgers offense to near perfection during the season, routinely coming through with clutch throws and great decision making, and was masterful during the Badgers upsets of Ohio State and Iowa.
He will most likely be drafted late in the draft as a developmental quarterback who could be groomed to be a back-up in the league. A successful team that has enough time to let him mature and reach his maximum potential are his most likely suitors, among those teams the Kansas City Chiefs, who are rumored to have interest.
John Clay: Running Back
John Clay - Running back
Accolades: Doak Walker Award finalist, AP third-team All-American, second-team All-Big Ten, 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
Projected round: UFA
John Clay. It's become safe to say Clay may have made a colossal mistake in leaving school early, as he has witnessed his draft stock plummet right before his very eyes. Once seen as a potential 2nd/3rd round pick, Clay put up below average numbers at the Combine in February. He dropped weight unnecessarily, and showed slow feet, a combo that proves deadly for a supposed "power back." He ran his forty times in the high 4.8 range, while he was hoping to post times in the 4.6 range, proving slower than many scouts thought he would.
His injury questions remain unanswered, as he had has a number of surgeries on his worn ankles to remove chips and provide cleanup. Clay's weight fluctuated throughout the season as he adjusted to his surgically repaired ankles, and at times appeared much slower than last year, when he was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
Another year in school would have given Clay the opportunity to disprove the thoughts on his injury history, and would have given him more time to adjust to his new playing weight after surgery. He will most likely be the last Badger drafted, unless a team believes they can harness his potential, control his fluctuating weight and turn him into an efficient power runner who can move the chains and provide a steady change of pace to a speedster in the backfield.
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