The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on April 27th–29th in Kansas City, MO. Most fans expect names such as Jalen Carter, Bryce Young, and Quentin Johnson to go early on the first day. However, the second day of the draft and the days that follow are the most important for former Wisconsin Badgers players who are hopeful they get a call as a draftee or undrafted free agent signing.
Offensive Lineman Joe Tippman
The 6-6, 313-pound Tippman was one of only three Wisconsin Badgers players invited to the NFL combine. He didn’t participate in any drills or testing at the combine because of a hamstring injury. The same injury also kept him from performing at the badgers pro day. Regardless, Joe Tippmann is one of the best OL to come out of Wisconsin in recent years. Twice named Big-Ten Honorable Mention (2021, 2022) while leading the way to the No.2 rushing attack in the Big Ten in 2021. During the 2022 season, Tippmann allowed only one sack and five pressures. The two-year starter will more than likely be the first Badger off the board this year.
Defensive Lineman Keeanu Benton
Disruptive, big, and strong are words to describe the University of Wisconsin defensive lineman. One of the 3 badgers players invited to the NFL combine, he was a participant in all drills and measurements. He measured in at 6-4, 308 pounds, his 3-cone drill ranked 2nd among all defensive tackles at the combine. His bench press and shuttle run ranked in the top 5 among all defensive linemen. Keeanu Benton started 36 games at Wisconsin, this past season, he tallied 36 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. Named a 2021 All-Big Ten second team, All-Big-Ten Honorable Mention, a 2022 preseason fourth-team All-American, and a 2022 All-Big-Ten selection. Scouts have the big man going in the 3rd round.
Linebacker Nick Herbig
After leading the Badgers with 11.0 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss this past season, he was a consensus First-team All- Big-Ten selection and was named a second-team All-American by CBS Sports and Walter Camp. Nick Herbig has been productive since he arrived on campus as a four-star recruit. Starting seven games his freshman year and started 13 games his sophomore year while leading the Badgers with nine sacks, which ranked fourth in the Big Ten.
He was invited to the Combine and ran a 4.65 40-yard dash but pulled his hamstring on his second 40 and wasn’t able to perform other drills. His 25-bench press tied for fourth at the combine. As one of seven players who performed at Wisconsin’s Pro Day, he impressed. His shuttle 4.35 would rank third among all linebackers at the Combine and he stood on his 40-yard dash from the combine. Scouts have Herbig projected to go in the 3-4 round.
Punter Andy Vujnovich
Andy Vujnovich started his career at Division III University of Dubuque before transferring to Wisconsin. He was an All-Big-Ten selection in 2021 after a 46.4-yard punting average, a record for the program. After a senior season that saw him punt 20 balls inside 20 yards, which was a personal single-season high, he leaves Wisconsin as one of the best punters in program history with a punting average of 44.3 yards a punt. The punter Participated in the Badgers players’ Pro Day and showed much more than a strong foot. Jumping an impressive 36-inch vertical and a 10’7″ broad jump, which would have him T-1st among running backs at the combine. Vujnovich could be an undrafted free-agent signing.
Photo courtesy: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports