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Wisconsin Badgers Impress During Draft Despite Notable Slide



Wisconsin Badgers Football Helmet
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Frey-AMF Photos. Follow @amfphotos2020 on Instagram to see more.

Madison, Wisc. – The Wisconsin Badgers football team had three former players receive draft calls this year, with two players hearing their names called rather early.

Nine Wisconsin players entered their names into the draft, and after the seven rounds ended three of them were selected. The first two Badgers off the board landed in the second round with Joe Tippmann and Keeanu Benton finding their new homes. The third Badger, Nick Herbig, heard his name in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.

 Wisconsin Badgers Football: Three Drafted Players Eager To Make An Impact 

In some original draft rankings, the Wisconsin Badgers seemed to have three players primed to be selected on Day 2. Center Joe Tippmann led the recruiting boards, with many analysts projecting the lineman to go at the top of the second round. Tippmann, a former four-star recruit, spent two seasons as the Badgers starting center. During his time as a Badger, Tippmann played 1456 offensive snaps while only allowing one sack.

The talented center also allowed four quarterback hits and four hurries during that time as well. Tippmann is incredibly light on his feet for someone who weighs 313 pounds, which he has displayed throughout his collegiate career. Tippmann has excellent footwork and fights through his blocks especially against stronger opponents. The exceptional offensive lineman rarely finds players who are stronger than him, which serves as a major reason as to why the New York Jets selected Tippmann with the 43rd overall pick.

Steve Avila, the former TCU Horned Frogs starting lineman, was selected with the 36th overall selection. Avila has played center before, and potentially could play the position for the Los Angeles Chargers. However, Tippmann was the first listed center to be selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Both the New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and General Manager Joe Douglas praised the Wisconsin Badger as a future “…10 year NFL starter…” given his talent.

Pittsburgh Steelers Select Two Wisconsin Football Alumni

The Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the most successful draft classes this year as the staff filled many of the team’s needs. The Steelers traded up in the draft with the New England Patriots to select Georgia tackle Broderick Jones with the 14th overall pick. Later, with the first of two second-round draft picks the Steelers selected Penn State corner back Joey Porter Jr. before adding to their stout run defense. With the 49th overall selection, the Steelers added Wisconsin Badgers defensive tackle Keeanu Benton.

Benton, a former three-star recruit, started all four years of his collegiate career with the Wisconsin Badgers. In 45 games, Benton recorded 80 total tackles and nine sacks, along with 19 tackles for loss. Benton put together his best season as a Badger this past year, recording six sacks, 11 pressures, and 11 hurries. The talented defensive tackle has an incredible ability to stay on his feet and work past blockers. Benton also has the strength and power to throw blockers out of his way when rushing towards the backfield.

Steelers ‘Steal’ Linebacker Nick Herbig During Fourth-Round

As excited as the Pittsburgh Steelers were to have one Wisconsin Badger in Benton, they were more excited to land two Badgers. With the 132nd overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Nick Herbig. Herbig had been projected as a potential second-round selection, but eventually slid into the end of the fourth-round. Herbig, the former four-star recruit from Hawaii, started all three seasons he played for the Wisconsin Badgers.

During his time as a Badger, Herbig recorded 137 total tackles, 36 tackles for loss, and 21 sacks. Herbig also recorded four forced fumbles, two recoveries and seven pass defenses in three seasons. The linebacker is a physical, dominant force on defense and often finds his way to the quarterback. Herbig may have benefited from another season in Madison, however he will surely add to an already strong Pittsburgh defense.

The Wisconsin Badgers football team had a successful showing in the 2023 NFL Draft as the former Badgers look to make their mark at the next level.

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Jarrett Guerrera is a graduate of Western New England University with a Bachelor's in English. Jarrett played rugby at the collegiate level, and has been a sports fanatic all his life. Jarrett is also a contributor for Wisconsin Sports Heroics.