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Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli figures to have a bright future at the next level.

Troy Fumagalli tops NFL draft rankings for 2018 TEs, where things stand on D-line and more

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Today is Tuesday, May 2, and this is what’s for breakfast.


Who’s next?

Wisconsin saw three players drafted last weekend, one more than the Badgers had in each of the two previous drafts. Could that number grow next April? Maybe. Here’s a look at who might hear their names called in the 2018 NFL Draft.

TE Troy Fumagalli

Ranked by CBSSports.com as the top senior tight end in the 2018 draft, Troy Fumagalli has a good chance to be the first Wisconsin player off the board. As complete of a tight end as the Badgers have had in recent memory, the former walk-on is poised for a big final season in Madison.

Fumagalli said this spring that he considered leaving for the NFL after his strong junior campaign that saw him catch 47 passes for 580 yards and 2 touchdowns, but determined he wasn’t ready. One more year will help him potentially end up as a second-day (second- or third-round) pick.

OL Michael Deiter

Few players have proven to be more diverse than Michael Deiter during his Wisconsin career, getting starts at center, guard and potentially this season at tackle. Still, his best position is likely center, and that’s where CBSSports.com ranks him as the top junior in the country.

Obviously, Deiter still has two years of eligibility left, but he’s drawn comparisons to Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Travis Frederick, who also started at multiple positions during his time at Wisconsin. And like Frederick, Deiter could decide it’s time for his next challenge and leave school after his junior year.

ILB Jack Cichy

If not for a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season after seven games in 2016, Jack Cichy might have had a decision to make in the offseason with respect to his future. But the injury did happen and now Cichy is back for a final season.

Another former walk-on, the Wisconsin native has been a revelation at inside linebacker since being forced to move from outside when injuries hit in 2015. The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, a former NFL scout, raved about Cichy last fall on Twitter. If Cichy puts together a full season of what everyone saw last year, he could very well hear his named called.

OLB Garret Dooley

Overshadowed by two guys who did get drafted in Philadelphia — T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel — Garret Dooley was pretty darn impressive in his first extensive collegiate action in 2016. With Biegel out against Michigan and Ohio State near the start of the Big Ten season, Dooley filled in and there wasn’t much of a drop-off.

Statistically — 40 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks — he was almost right in line with the season production of Biegel, who went in the fourth round to the Green Bay Packers. If he puts together an even bigger season as a senior, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Dooley could make it three straight years where at least one Wisconsin outside linebacker gets taken.

Others:

WR Jazz Peavy
CB Derrick Tindal
DE Chikwe Obasih
DE Conor Sheehy
FB Austin Ramesh

Where things stand: Defensive line

Wisconsin finished up spring practice in late April, so we’re taking a position-by-position look back at where things stand, including along the defensive line.

What happened: A three-year starter, Obasih was held out as he recovers from offseason surgery while veterans such as Sheehy, Alec James and Olive Sagapolu were used sparingly during 11-on-11 work in an effort to get the younger guys at the position more work.

Biggest takeaway: Depth, depth, depth.

Depth along the defensive line may challenge the inside linebackers for the best on the team. In addition to the top four guys mentioned above, sophomore Garrett Rand, redshirt freshman Isaiahh Loudermilk and junior Billy Hirschfeld give the Badgers so many options heading into the fall.

Looking past this season, all that depth should lessen the blow when Obasih, James and Sheehy run out of eligibility following the 2017 season.

Biggest question: How many guys can Wisconsin realistically play?

Defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield said this spring he’s got seven guys that he’s comfortable playing, but how many reps each gets is up in the air. What this spring showed, though, was that Rand and Loudermilk may be too good to keep on the bench, especially the latter.

At 6-7, 302 pounds, Loudermilk has a body type that can hold up in the run game and be tough to throw the ball over. If anyone is going to take snaps away from the older guys, it’ll be him.

Ready to go

Injuries have decimated the Wisconsin offensive line depth over the past four seasons. The number lost for their careers due to health-related reasons is nearing double digits. But there was good news on Monday as junior tackle Jake Maxwell tweeted he was fully healthy for the first time in six months.

After starting three games at right tackle as a redshirt freshman, Maxwell got the nod for the first seven games of 2016 before missing the final seven with the right shoulder injury. He sat out of spring practice while rehabbing but is now apparently good to go when the Badgers return for workouts after Memorial Day.

His return sets up an interesting battle at right tackle with his replacement last season, redshirt sophomore David Edwards, moving to left tackle this offseason. In the spring, redshirt freshman Patrick Kasl took all the first-team reps, and the thought is he’ll battle Maxwell for the starting job this fall. That could change, of course, if the coaches deem Deiter a better choice at left tackle and move Edwards back to the right side.

Whatever the decision, having multiple guys that have a lot of starting experience as potential first-team linemen is a much more envious spot for Wisconsin to be in following all of the young and raw lineups the Badgers have rolled out the last two seasons.

Catching up

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