Our breakdown of the 2012 Badgers roster continues with a look at the front seven.
1. Beau Allen
He’s the top returning sack man from 2011 when he had a whopping 4. A steadily improving player who could break out in 2012.
2. Ethan Hemer
A very large man who takes up blocks. Won’t be a stat monster but could be the key to the whole line.
3. Warren Herring
Converted end. Moves up in the rotation with Jordan Kohout’s forced departure.
4. Bryce Gilbert
Another guy who could benefit from Kohout’s departure. Had a solid spring.
5. Arthur Goldberg
Three-star recruit coming in. Probably wants to put on 20 pounds. Good motor, they say. Probable redshirt.
6. Jacob Ninneman
Redshirt sophomore. Could figure in the tackle rotation if there’s an injury.
1. David Gilbert
His injury early in 2011 really hurt the defensive line and especially the pass rush. A return to form in 2012 would obviously help the defense. Going out on a limb and predicting he’ll finish with more than 4.5 sacks (the number Louis Nzegwu had last year when he led the team).
2. Brendan Kelly
Took over for David Gilbert last year and didn’t embarrass himself. Be nice to see him step it up this year and become more than serviceable.
3. Pat Muldoon
Got a couple starts last year opposite Nzegwu. Is pretty much interchangeable with Kelly. Be interesting to see which of those two guys ends up getting more reps.
4. Tyler Dippel
Solid back-up who had injury problems in the spring.
5. James Adeyanju
Three-star recruit seeing his first action. Probably still a year away from being good. Athletic talent is there but he’s raw.
6. Konrad Zagzebski
Part of the defensive end grab bag. Like Dippel, had injury struggles in the spring.
7. Jesse Hayes
Another talented player who needs time. Will be fun to watch him and Adeyanju firing off the edges in 2013.
1. Ethan Armstrong
The former walk-on is now on scholarship. He’ll have to prove he can hold up after undergoing hip surgery.
2. Conor O’Neill
Showed some playmaking ability in the Big Ten title game, forcing a fumble. Should be ready to step in if Armstrong has injury troubles.
3. A.J. Fenton
This guy could be good enough to start. There’s lots of depth across the linebacker corps. Wish we had as much in the secondary.
1. Chris Borland
One of the best linebackers in the country. Name a defensive trophy watchlist and he’s on it. Should be in line for another huge year.
2. Marcus Trotter
No offense but I hope we don’t see much of Marcus Trotter. Cause it will mean Chris Borland is hurt.
1. Mike Taylor
Taylor is a tackling machine, pure and simple. He and Borland are arguably the best linebacker duo in the country right now and also possibly in Badger history. He’s on all the watch lists too. Having two linebackers battling for the major defensive awards is a cool thing.
2. Derek Landisch
Last year’s Badgers rookie of the year. He gets to watch Mike Taylor and play some special teams.
On the D-line: potentially dominating in the middle, but what about that edge rush? David Gilbert should help but even if he tops out, he’s no J.J. Watt or Tarek Saleh. Seems we’re at least a year away from having any real help at DE so the Badgers will have to cobble together a pass rush again this year. Hopefully it will be at least slightly improved, cause I’m not interested in watching guys like Braxton Miller running around making plays to win ball games. Run stopping shouldn’t be a huge issue. Linebacker-wise, we know what we have. A potentially dominating unit. The linemen will have to step up for this to become a truly fearsome front seven.