NFL draft: Projecting state prospects
Players from Wisconsin colleges or high schools who have been evaluated by NFL teams and have a legitimate chance of being drafted or signed as free agents:
DAN ARNOLD, WR, UW-Platteville (6 foot 5, 222 pounds, 40-yard time of 4.63 seconds): Played at Shanley High School in Fargo, N.D. Offensive player of the year in the WIAC after catching 65 passes for 1,176 yards (18.1) and school-record 16 touchdowns. “I’m glad he graduated,” UW-Oshkosh coach Pat Cerroni said. “I don’t know if he’s as good as the Whitewater kid (Jake Kumerow) a few years ago that went to Cincinnati, but he’s darn close. He has the ability to go up and get the ball.” Fourth Platteville player in 44 years to be named Division III All-American by the coaches association. Tested well at the Badgers pro day (vertical jump of 39½, broad jump of 10-7 and 12 reps on the bench). “He had more athletic ability than anybody he was playing against,” one scout said. “Productive DIII player who was winning on size and ball skills.” Projection: Free agent.
VINCE BIEGEL, OLB, Wisconsin (6-3, 245, 4.69): Played at Wisconsin Rapids. Started 40 of 54 games. “He’ll be a good pro,” one scout said. “Fourth round, maybe third. I don’t see him as a starter but I see a good role player.” Redshirted in 2012 because of a foot injury, backed up in ’13 and started last three years. Finished with 191 tackles (39½) for loss and 21½ sacks. “High-effort guy,” said another scout. “I didn’t think he was that good of an athlete. I saw him on the ground a lot. His pass-rush production was due more to effort and technique than skill. Overachiever.” Vertical jump of 33½, broad jump of 9-10, 21 reps on the bench and scored 23 on the Wonderlic intelligence test. Projection: Third- to fourth-round pick.
CAM BROWN, CB-S, UW-Oshkosh (5-10, 190, 4.45): Played at Milwaukee Riverside. Now 27, he didn’t enroll until age 22. Started at CB in 2014 before moving to safety in 2015-'16. “A great kid,” Cerroni said. “He’s gotten notice because he did really well in a regional combine a few weeks ago and then he did really well at Whitewater (WIAC pro day). You just never know. I’m just proud of him and how hard he’s worked.” Exploded for a vertical jump of 43 and broad jump of 10-8 to go with a fast 40. “I saw him in the (Division III) title game,” said one scout. “He hits people but didn’t wrap things up, and you didn’t see the speed at all.” Projection: Possible free agent.
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BRENT CAMPBELL, TE, UW-Whitewater (6-5, 263, 4.81: Played at Winnebago in Rockford, Ill. Four-year player with 26 receptions for 347 yards (13.4) and five TDs, including 16-183-3 as a senior. “With all the talent they have there it’s tough to get guys the ball,” said Cerroni. “He’s been a big part of their offense for years. He’s a blocking tight end and he can run. You might see him playing on Sundays.” His 31 reps on the bench were seven more than any TE at the combine. Vertical jump of 33 and broad jump of 8-11½. “Best blocking tight end I saw this year,” said one scout. “Athletic. Appears to have good hands. Competition is only real concern. Draftable. Definitely a priority free agent.” Projection: Free agent.
COREY CLEMENT, RB, Wisconsin (5-10, 218, 4.67): Played at Glassboro, N.J. Saved his best for last, gaining a career-high 1,375 yards (4.4) in 2016. “He’s got size, quick feet, some burst,” said one scout. “He could be the guy if he popped off a few runs in a reserve role and your starter went down.” Hurt himself with poor workout at the combine (vertical jump of 28½, slow 40). Partially redeemed himself two weeks later at pro day (vertical of 32, faster 40, excellent agility runs). “He’s overrated,” said another scout. “He is not fast. He used to be before he got hurt (sports hernia, ankle). He’s decent as an in-line runner. He has feet and instincts, but not well-versed in the pass game. He has injury history.” Finished with 576 carries for 3,092 (5.4) and 36 TDs. Caught just 29 passes in 43 games (15 starts). “He’s just been banged up,” said a third scout. “He was a promising young player with size and strength. Adequate vision, not great.” Wonderlic of 20. Projection: Late-round pick.
BART HOUSTON, QB, Wisconsin (6-2, 234, 5.12): Played at De La Salle in Dublin, Calif. Career backup played in 26 games, compiling a 4-1 record as the starter. “He’s got some talent,” one scout said. “Maybe Arena league. He has a strong arm and throws a tight ball. He’s got a nice passing motion. Decent athlete. He’s not a runner but he’s got movement in the pocket. Developmental. He was benched against Georgia State, and the guy didn’t play much the rest of the season. Made two poor decisions against LSU. Holds onto the ball. Indecisive.” Finished with NFL passer rating of 94.5 in 192 attempts. “He’d be a decent camper (free agent),” said another scout. “I don’t see it progressing beyond that. Big, good kid, strong arm.” Vertical jump of 29 and broad jump of 8-10. Projection: Free agent.
LINCOLN HOWARD, G-T, Northern Illinois (6-5, 300, 5.07): Played at Osceola. Started six games at RT in 2015 and the first four games of ’16 at RG before being moved to defense when the defensive line was beset by injuries. According to one scout, he was benched. “It was a huge, selfless move by him,” Huskies LT Levon Myers said. “We moved him over to D-line and, honestly, he did a great job considering he just got thrown into that position.” Long arms (35 1/8) might be his ticket to a free-agent contract. Vertical jump of 29, broad jump of 8-11 and a mere 11 reps on the bench. “Best thing about him is he has long arms,” said one scout. “Waist bender who gets pushed back.” Projection: Free agent.
JOE KEELS, DE, Buffalo (6-3½, 285, 5.22): Played at Kenosha Bradford. Played at a pair of junior colleges in 2012-'13 and at Nebraska in 2014-'15. Appeared in five games in ’14 and was injured all of ’15. Originally scheduled to attend Eastern Michigan as a graduate transfer last year but ended up at Buffalo, where he played 12 games and recorded 23 tackles (2½ for loss) and ½ sack as a backup. “Active player with adequate initial quickness, movement and mobility,” said one scout. “Block catcher, no technique or shed. Not a pass rusher.” Vertical jump of 32, broad jump of 9-2 and arms were 34 3/8. Suffered a pectoral strain benching at pro day and had to stop after four reps. Projection: Possible free agent.
JESSE KROLL, WR, Central Michigan (6-2½, 208, 4.6): Played at Algoma. One of the more snake-bit players in the draft. Final season was cut short in the fourth game because of a torn ACL. He missed all of 2011 with a broken arm and all but four games in ’13 because of an ankle injury. Led Chippewas in ’15 with 61 receptions for 866. “Looked like a free agent for sure,” said one scout. “He’s a good possession guy.” Finished with 117 catches for 1,770 (15.1) and nine TDs. Attended pro day but just as an observer. “He’s had multiple injuries and he’s already slow,” said another scout. “He has size and ball skills.” Projection: Possible free agent.
LEO MUSSO, S, Wisconsin (5-8½, 189, 4.58): Played at Waunakee. Voted team MVP in first season as starter. “I don’t know what you’re going to do with him but he’s a good football player,” said one scout. “What is he … 5-7? But he’s really smart and enjoys playing. He’s better than some of these dumb fast guys. Jim Leonhard was the same type of guy.” Started 17 of 52 games, intercepting eight passes. Had 108 tackles as a senior. “You want to reject the guy based on the way he looks,” another scout said. “But he’s a better athlete than given credit for, he’s super smart and he’s tough. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on a practice squad.” Vertical jump of 34½, broad jump of 10-8, 15 reps on the bench and outstanding times in the shuttle runs. Projection: Free agent.
LEVON MYERS, T-G, Northern Illinois (6-4½, 310, 5.41): Played at Franklin. Fifth-year senior and two-year starter at LT. “A lot of people are asleep on him,” one scout said. “Great character guy. Highly intelligent. He’s going to make it. I think he’s a guard.” Another scout said: “As a run blocker he plays hard. He’s not real strong but he’s got good tenacity and finish. Not a powerful person. More of an athletic blocker. He has the quickness to get to the second level. When a guy goes up the field on him he has no problem pass blocking. But, when somebody gives him double moves and goes inside he’s not real quick to his right.” Different scouts measured his arm length at 34¼ last spring and 33¼ this winter. “I don’t think my arms got any shorter,” said Myers. “I don’t really know how to explain that one.” Vertical jump of 26½, broad jump of 8-6, 24 reps on the bench and Wonderlic of 30. Working toward his master’s degree in business. Projection: Late-round pick or free agent.
PHILIP NELSON, QB, East Carolina (6-1½, 203, 4.79:. Attended grade school in DeForest, high school at Mankato (Minn.) West. Started last seven games of his true freshman year at Minnesota and nine more in ’13. Announced decision to transfer to Rutgers but the scholarship was pulled after his arrest for involvement in a bar fight in Mankato. Pleaded guilty to fifth-degree assault, avoiding jail time. Walked on at East Carolina in ’15 and started in ’16, compiling an NFL passer rating of 83.1. His two-year rating for the Gophers was 70. Former Rams coach Mike Martz, who coached in the NFLPA All-Star Game, said Nelson could start in the NFL after watching him there all week. “Good arm and above average athlete,” said one scout. “Possibly the most inaccurate passer I’ve ever seen. Has some off-field issues. Rookie tryout camp type.” Vertical jump of 35½, broad jump of 9-7. Projection: Possible free agent.
DREW NEUVILLE, TE, Bethel (Minn.) (6-4, 238, 4.93): Played at Bay Port. Productive player at the small-college level. Finished with 110 receptions for 1,360 (12.4) and 10 TDs. Worked out for scouts on Minnesota-Duluth pro day in Minneapolis. Vertical jump of 27, broad jump of 9-3 and Wonderlic of 28. Two scouts had no knowledge of Neuville. Projection: Possible free agent.
DARE OGUNBOWALE, RB, Wisconsin (5-10½, 210, 4.63): Played at Milwaukee Marquette. Played in 49 games with 10 starts, primarily when Corey Clement was injured. “I’d probably draft him over Clement because he can catch the ball,” said one scout. “Good player. Only thing I questioned was top speed. Good hands and run after the catch, good pass blocker. He’s quicker than Clement but not as strong.” Finished with 319 carries for 1,518 (4.8) and 13 TDs and had 60 receptions. “I’d actually rather have him than Corey Clement,” another scout said. “He is a really good third-down back. He is positive energy personified. Every time the kid comes in the game he does something good. He’s a dynamic special-teams player and he contributed as a corner before he became a running back. Phenomenal kid. You’re not going to find better. He’s going to play right away.” Scored 36 on the Wonderlic, possibly a high for running backs. Vertical jump of 35, broad jump of 10-0 and 14 reps on the bench. Projection: Late-round pick.
RYAN RAMCZYK, T, Wisconsin (6-5½, 309, no 40): Played at Stevens Point. Was starting LT at UW-Stevens Point in 2013-'14, redshirted at UW in ’15 and was consensus All-American as LT in ’16. Has been likened in terms of size to Paul Gruber, the ex-Badger who was the fourth pick in 1988 and had an exceptional career for the Buccaneers. “Paul Gruber was much more of a technician and a better athlete,” said one scout. “Better player. In a lot of drafts this guy would be a second-rounder. He’s not a dancing bear. He’s got good balance but the lateral range isn’t there.” Underwent hip surgery in January and won’t run a 40 before the draft. “Medical is a concern,” said a second scout. “I thought he was OK. Has ability to be maybe a low-end starter. I’m not a huge fan.” Average arm length (33¾ inches), huge hands (10 7/8 inches). Projection: Top 35 pick.
BRADY ROSE, WR-RB, Sioux Falls (5-11, 207, no 40): Played at Cumberland. Enrolled as a RB but spent much of his career as a slot receiver and H-back. Last season, he caught 59 passes for 740 (12.5) and four TDs. “Brady’s going to be an offensive coordinator when he’s done, probably,” Sioux Falls offensive coordinator Dustin Hovorka told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in October 2015. Projection: Possible free agent.
JOE ROTHERHAM, LS, St. Norbert (6-1½, 252, no 40): Played at Green Bay Notre Dame. Walked on at Nebraska in 2011 and backed up for several seasons before transferring. Handled all snapping duties in 2015-'16 for the Green Knights. Worked out for the Green Bay Packers on April 7. Turns 24 Saturday. Father, Gary, is a Green Bay businessman and member of the Packers’ board of directors. Projection: Possible free agent.
JOSH RUKA, G, Northern Illinois (6-5, 304, no 40): Played at Greenfield. Fifth-year senior with one start at RG in 2014, seven starts at RG in ’15 and 12 starts at LG in ’16. “Minicamp guy,” said one scout. “His best attribute was just being big and tough and physical. But he’s a phone-booth guy.” Athletic limitations evident by vertical jump of 27 and broad jump of 8-6. Arms were 33 5/8, big hands (10 3/8) and 23 reps on the bench. Projection: Possible free agent.
R.J. SHELTON, WR-KR, Michigan State (5-10, 200, 4.64): Played at Beaver Dam. Teammates voted him MVP last season. “Good football player on a bad team,” one scout said. “Not fast, but one of the more consistent players I did this year. Same guy every game, the all-star game and pro day. Quicker than fast. Really good route runner. Tough guy. He’s a great middle-round pick.” Returned kickoffs all four seasons, averaging 23.2. Caught 116 passes for 1,471 (12.7) and 11 TDs. Rushed 84 times for 549 (6.6) and four TDs. Vertical jump of 32, broad jump of 9-1 and 17 reps on the bench. Small hands (9). Projection: Late-round pick or free agent.
SOJOURN SHELTON, CB, Wisconsin (5-9, 177, 4.56): Played at Plantation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Four-year starter. “He may be overlooked because of his height and there’s so many corners this year,” one scout said. “Only negative is the height and some problems with big receivers in traffic. He’s good one-on-one cover. He can press and play off. He’s smart. He’ll come up and tackle people.” Ran slower at pro day than at the combine. Vertical jump of 35, broad jump of 10-4, 10 reps on the bench and Wonderlic of 14. “This guy is a good little player,” said another scout. “It’s just whether you want to deal with his size because it shows up. It shows up competing for the ball and in the run game, despite his efforts. I’d draft him because of his high character.” Posted nine interceptions and 41 passes defensed in 54 games (school-record 51 starts). Projection: Late-round pick or free agent.
KEZLOW SMITH, WR, Lakeland (5-10½, 186, 4.46): Played at Pontiac, Mich. All-time leading receiver for the Division III Muskies. Four-year starter with 203 receptions for 3,560 (17.5) and 42 TDs. One of two non-Badgers invited to participate at UW pro day. Besides a fast 40, he had a vertical jump of 32, a broad jump of 10-6 and seven reps on the bench. Short arms (29¼). “When guys are coming from that smaller level they’ve got to do something to stand out,” said one scout. “I didn’t see that. He caught it OK. Average-sized guy.” Projection: Possible free agent.
MARK SPELMAN, C, Illinois State (6-2½, 299, 5.25): Played at Milwaukee Marquette. Winner of the FCS Rimington Award as the best center in Football Championship Subdivision. Two-time all-Missouri Valley Conference pick. Started 42 of 46 games after redshirting in ’12. “He’s a zone guy,” said one scout. “He can move. That’s the one thing about him. He pulls well. He’s mobile. As a run blocker, he lacks strength. He does get pushed. He did 30 reps (actually 29) on the bench but he has no power at all.” Vertical jump of 27, broad jump of 8-7. Short arms (31 7/8), small hands (9¼). Projection: Possible free agent.
ERIC STEFFES, TE, Wisconsin (6-3½, 268, 5.10): Played at Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs. Seven starts in 39 games after redshirting in 2012. “As a three-point tight end he had a good release and got downfield,” said one scout. “More of a blocker but he has good hands. Good pad level as a blocker.” Hurt his chances with poor performance at pro day (vertical jump of 25, broad jump of 8-4, 14 reps on the bench). Arms were just 30¾. “Really wasn’t a starter and his pro day was awful,” said another scout. “Looks like a small guard.” Projection: Free agent.
SERGE TREZY, CB-S, Wisconsin (6-1½, 207, 4.51): Played at Christian Academy in Orlando. Played two years as a running back in junior college, redshirted in ’14 and played 18 games in 2015-16, mainly on special teams. Shifted to cornerback last spring. Carried six times as a junior and managed three tackles as a senior. “Looked good on the hoof,” one scout said. “For a guy that didn’t play, his test numbers weren’t terrible but they didn’t wow you.” Vertical jump of 34 ½, broad jump of 10-3 and 16 reps on the bench. Projection: Possible free agent.
CONNOR UDELHOVEN, LS, Wisconsin (5-11½, 243, 5.54): Played at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn. The Badgers have sent several long snappers to the NFL and Udelhoven is attempting to be the next. Former walk-on handled placements for four seasons and punts in 2015-'16. “They did (NFL-style) punting there so you could see he could snap it and block,” an AFC special-teams coach said. “He threw a real catchable, easy ball. Not great speed but real accurate. But he has no cover skills.” Another AFC coach who wasn’t aware of Udelhoven said his cutoff for a snapper’s 40 time was 5.0. His vertical jump was a miniscule 20, his broad jump was 8-8 and he did 18 reps on the bench. “He’s too deficient as an athlete and not good enough as a snapper,” said one scout. “He may get brought in for a (minicamp) tryout but I don’t think he makes it to camp.” Projection: Possible free agent.
T.J. WATT, OLB, Wisconsin (6-4½, 251, 4.67): Played at Pewaukee. Moved from TE to LB in 2015 after sitting out 2013-'14 with major knee injuries. Played effectively off the bench in 2015 before exploding in ’16 with 11 1/2 sacks. “He’s more of a ‘Sam’ or 3-4 outside linebacker,” said one scout. “He’s physical, tough. He tested out well. Plays hard.” Another scout called him the best LB in the draft. “I gave him a higher grade than his brother (J.J.),” he said. “All he does is make plays. He’s Clay Matthews. Probably more explosive. I guess he’s learned pass-rush techniques from his brother. Uses his hands well.” Paced LBs at the combine in vertical jump (37), broad jump (10-8), short shuttle (4.13), three-cone (6.79) and hand size (11). “Needs to play with more strength and base,” a third scout said. “On the ground too much.” Projection: Top-40 pick.
ROBERT WHEELWRIGHT, WR, Wisconsin (6-2, 205, 4.59): Played at Walnut Ridge in Columbus, Ohio. Made 10 of his 18 starts (47 games) as a senior. Finished with 69 receptions for 890 (12.9) and six TDs. “He’s a guy that never really got any better because he’s kind of complacent,” one scout said. “He’s got size and above average speed and ball skills.” Vertical jump of 38, broad jump of 10-8 and 15 reps on the bench. “Possession receiver,” said a second scout. “No. 11 (Jazz Peavy) was their primary receiver, not this guy. This guy is a guy you take just because he’s 207.” Projection: Free agent.
NAJEAL YOUNG, TE, Texas Wesleyan (6-4, 229, 4.8): Played at West Allis Central. All-state basketball player for the Bulldogs. Also was a wide receiver. Played basketball at two junior colleges before moving on to Illinois-Chicago, where he started 17 of 27 games in 2015-'16 and averaged 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. Helped lead Texas Wesleyan to NAIA Division I championship in March, averaging 14.6 points and 8.4 rebounds. The Chiefs, who signed former UW-Milwaukee basketball player Demetrius Harris in ’14, worked out Young last week. “He has the size to fill out and grow,” said one scout. “He has the movement skills to be an intriguing pass-catching receiver.” Projection: Possible free agent.