There’s a lot more where James White came from, kids.
The Super Bowl heroics of the former Wisconsin Badgers tailback — a fourth-round selection of the New England Patriots in 2014 who set new big-game records for catches (14) and points scored (20) — were the latest notch on a belt that spans almost a generation. Since the spring of 2005, only Ohio State (69) has accounted for more NFL draft picks among Big Ten programs than Wisconsin’s 46.
Bucky has been good for nearly four draft picks per year, on average, for more than a decade. Pro scouts trust — and respect — coach Paul Chryst. They respect the system. The pedigree. And the legacy.
Case in point: Left tackle Ryan Ramczyk figures to be the Badgers’ fourth first-round draft pick since 2010 despite, because of hip surgery, not being able to engage in any serious football-related workouts for another two months. A lot of that is a hat-tip to Ramczyk, a 314-pound bear with a pair of dancer’s feet. But some of that is brand loyalty, too.
With all-star games in the rear-view mirror and the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine just a few weeks away, what’s the water like for some of the Big Ten’s best prospects? Land of 10 circled back to Dan Shonka, general manager of Ourlads.com and a member of the selection committee for the East-West Shrine Game, and to Pro Football Focus Big Ten analyst Josh Liskiewitz, who both scouted Big Ten prospects at the Senior Bowl, to gauge the updated NFL stock for a handful of Badgers:
Corey Clement, RB
Shonka: He carried the ball three times, I think, at the Senior Bowl for 26 yards, and he had a good week of practice. Though with all the running backs at the Senior Bowl, I’d put him, I suppose, after Kareem Hunt at Toledo and Jamaal Williams from BYU — and then Corey would be right in that mix with the next group of guys, like De’Veon Smith (from Michigan) and Matt Dayes from North Carolina State. So he’s in the mix, but he’s going to have a lot of competition, and he’s going to have to have a big combine week, because there are a ton of running backs that came out. A lot of those guys, (it’s like), ‘I don’t know what you’re thinking.’ Nevertheless, this is a great year for running backs, so the more he can do at the combine, (the better). One thing I thought he did a nice job (with) at the Senior Bowl was he caught the ball. I think people were maybe surprised how well he caught the ball. He caught the ball well in practice.
Clement, his stock, I would say, is up. I think Dare (Ogunbowale’s) stock is up; he was very impressive at the East-West game. I think both those guys certainly didn’t hurt themselves.
— Keith Fleming (@GamePlanSports) January 27, 2017
Liskiewitz: Clement was one of the top running backs in pass blocking 1-on-1s, and also did well on receiving drills against linebackers and safeties. I’ll pre-empt this by saying at all-star games, it’s really tough for running backs to stand out in any capacity at all. They’ve got to show really well in the game. If they do well in pass-blocking drills, that certainly helps, too.
Dare Ogunbowale, RB
Shonka: He looked great in practices. Had some really sharp (routes) … and has really got good hands. Dare really did a nice job. He’s looked very smooth catching the ball at the West practices. The stuff that we expected him to do, he did. But he’s a very explosive, slashing-type runner. I could certainly see him making a roster next year, especially if he contributes on special teams, coverage, and things like that.
I think he’s a draftable guy. I don’t know what he’s going to run a 40 in. I could see him getting drafted maybe in that fifth, sixth round. With so many running backs out there, everybody’s looking for every different thing. He does a nice job at pass protecting. For me, that’s what people are going to be looking at — running backs who can pass protect are going to make (it) over (ones who can’t). The coaches at Wisconsin, they said Dare has a lot of, like, James White. But he’s a little bigger than White. A guy that can catch and pass-protect and then run, they’re, for the most part, going be in people’s mixes. Because you don’t want your million-dollar quarterback injured. That’s what it’s all about. He was very impressive at the East-West.
Video: Wisconsin running back Dare Ogunbowale with a nice cut. pic.twitter.com/dVOnNXngnV
— Riley (@junioraumanac) January 17, 2017
Liskiewitz: He had the most carries (eight) on the (West) squad. That probably tells you a little something.
Sojourn Shelton, CB
Shonka: One of our scouts was at the Wisconsin-Northwestern game, and a lot of scouts had a lot of buzz (for him). They really like the guy. Obviously, he’s a smaller corner. He’s going to have to be a nickel guy. It would not shock me if he got drafted. That’s another strong position this draft — the running backs and cornerbacks are really strong. Good football players aren’t going to get drafted, but they’re going to get signed and they’re going to make a team. Because of his size, a lot of scouts really like him. You can put a star by his name.
Ryan Ramczyk, OT
Shonka: Because of the labrum (surgery), that surprised me, that he came out. That was weird. Because I’ve never heard of that before, to be honest with you. I don’t know what the recovery time is.
He’s our top tackle, which just tells you … they talk about Cam Robinson down at Alabama, and he’s on the ground all the time. (Robinson) is an OK run blocker, but his pass-protection skills are almost non-existent. But Ramczyk … this year, he really did a nice job blocking. I was hoping he’d stay another year, because then he’d be a top-10 pick next year, but hey, I guess you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. And hopefully it’s not going to be that injury that always (comes back). But doctors from different teams say he’s going to be fine. He’ll be ready to go by training camp and stuff like that, so somebody will pull the trigger on him.
Vince Biegel, OLB
Shonka: He’s a real talented guy … he looked kind of like what we thought. Did a nice job in coverage. Broke things up in the flat. High-energy, high-motor guy. Very explosive. I would think it all depends on what people do with these quarterbacks, where it’s a very poor class, and how many running backs go. (Biegel) could possibly squeeze into the third round, somewhere maybe at the end of the third round, possibly a lock in the fourth, and hey, you never know. If he had some kind of monster workout at the combine or something, he may go earlier than the third.
He’s going to be an outside linebacker that can play on all the special teams, and he’s going to be really strong there. And now you’ve got to be able to cover when you’re a linebacker, they seem to sacrifice the size for maybe a little smaller guy as long as he can cover. And I think Biegel showed some good things, that he can cover.
Dobbs para Engram bien cubierto por Biegel (leve DPI). Pase un pelin alto. pic.twitter.com/v3SqAYKY2K
— Los Cachorros NCAAF (@CachorrosNCAAF) January 29, 2017
Liskiewitz: Biegel did not show well on pass rushes. And, from my recollection, just did not appear to look very explosive with his first couple of steps.
Biegel working with Ohio DE Tarrell Basham. pic.twitter.com/bUWrFVa1GA
— quintorris riese (@RieseDraft) January 24, 2017
Biegel beats Davenport with an inside spin pic.twitter.com/VieSvMxNIt
— Billy (@BillyM_91) January 26, 2017
Robert Wheelwright, WR
Shonka: Wheelwright will probably be a free agent, too, although I’ll tell you, I like him. He does a lot of good things. The receiver (position) is so deep, he’s probably going to be a free agent.
Leo Musso, S
Shonka: He’s one of the undersized guys. I’ll tell you what: He’s a good football player. He’s not Jim Leonhard, I don’t believe, but he’s a good football player. He’ll go into a camp somewhere.