The Wisconsin football program has a long history of producing talented players who go on to have successful careers in the National Football League. UW has sent a player to the NFL every season since 1999, which is the longest active streak in the Big Ten conference.
This past weekend, Wisconsin saw three players: Joe Tippmann, Keeanu Benton, and Nick Herbig, all get their names called in the top four rounds.
With the 2023 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, let us take a look ahead at the Badgers players who have the potential to hear their names called on draft day next season.
1. Jack Nelson, Offensive Tackle:
Jack Nelson has been a mainstay on the Badgers offensive line for the past two seasons, playing over 1,500 snaps at left tackle. He has good size, strength, and athleticism.
If he can continue to improve his technique, pass blocking, and footwork, he could be an early to mid-round draft pick in 2024. The sky for Nelson is the limit.
2. Braelon Allen, Running Back:
Braelon Allen has been one of the top running backs in the Big Ten each of his first two seasons, getting named second-team all-conference both years for the Wisconsin football program.
The 6-foot-2, 238-pound RB runs with power and has better speed than you’d expect from someone his size. Allen finished last season with 230 carries for 1,242 yards (5.4 YPC) and 11 touchdowns. He also caught a career-high 13 passes for 104 yards.
All things considered, if he stays healthy and continues producing like we’ve grown to expect, he could be a mid-round draft pick in 2024.
3. Maema Njongmeta, Inside Linebacker:
Maema Njongmeta was a third-team All-Big Ten selection in 2022, leading the Badgers with 95 tackles, 25 pressures, 12.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, and an interception.
He is an athletic and instinctive player who stops the run and gets after the quarterback. Njongmeta finished second on the team in pass-rush win rate, registering an elite 35.7%.
By the end of last season, he was making impactful plays all over the field. Additionally, if he continues to develop his coverage skills for the Wisconsin football team, he could be a mid to late round draft pick in 2024.
4. Tanner Mordecai, Quarterback:
Tanner Mordecai burst onto the scene his last two seasons at SMU, throwing for 7,152 yards, 72 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, and had a 66.4% completion percentage.
He has a strong arm, is mobile enough to escape pressure, and has good accuracy, so if he continues to develop and has a big season under Phil Longo, he could be a late-round draft pick in 2024 or a priority UDFA with tools worth gambling on.
5. Jake Renfro, Center:
Jake Renfro has been a mainstay for Luke Fickell on the Cincinnati Bearcats offensive line but chose to follow his head coach to the Wisconsin football program via the transfer portal this offseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound linemen logged 1,126 snaps, all at center, and has allowed only four sacks in 602 pass-blocking sets. Renfro, a former All-AAC first-team member, will immediately slot into the starting center role vacated by Joe Tippmann.
All in all, he has good size and strength, and as long as he can continue to improve his technique and footwork, he could position himself to leave early for the 2024 draft.
Other Wisconsin Football Players Who Could Enter the Discussion:
Some other names to keep an eye on that, with big seasons for the Wisconsin football program, could vault themselves into consideration:
- Chimere Dike, WR
- Alexander Smith, CB
- Chez Mellusi, RB
- Kamo’i Latu, S
- Travian Blaylock, S
Overall, depth-wise, it should be an improved draft class for Wisconsin. At this point in time, I wouldn’t be shocked if a few other names worked their way into consideration for UDFA spots or early entry under the new regime.
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