The 2014 NFL Draft Combine is set to take place starting this weekend.
Once again hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, the annual freak show of to-be NFL talent will be on display for all the world to see.
What’s been hailed by some as a glorified meat market of college athletes, the event could serve a very vital service to some, and detriment to others.
Making appearances for the Wisconsin Badgers will be linebacker Chris Borland, WR Jared Abbrederis, running back James White, defensive back Dezman Southward, tight end Jacob Pedersen and offensive lineman Ryan Groy.
Here is a breakdown of how each player ranks with the prognosticators, going into this weekends combine.
JARED ABBREDERIS: Two-time first-team All-Big Ten (2012-13) selection. 2013: Won Burlsworth Trophy (as nation’s best player to begin career as walk-on). Played in all 13 games with 11 starts. 2012: Started in 12 of 13 games. 2011: Honorable mention All-Big Ten pick. Started in all 14 games at receiver with Russell Wilson at quarterback. 2010: Played all 13 games with two starts. 2009: Redshirted. High school: First-team All-State quarterback in Wisconsin for Wautoma High School. Also played defensive back, and led team to Division IV state championship as a senior. Ran track and wrestled as well.
STREGTHS & WEAKNESSES: There is no doubting his ability to catch the football. His route running has been compared to that of Wes Welker and Brian Hartline. His point to point speed isn’t the greatest, and coming off a post-season hamstring injury, he’ll likely be under the microscope to insure it’s fully healed and won’t be a nagging problem going forward. He’s projected as a solid 3-4 receiver at the next level, however, he was never projected to be an asset at Wisconsin.
CHRIS BORLAND: Three-time first-team All-Big Ten (2011-13) selection. Wisconsin’s all-time leader with 14 forced fumbles. 2013: Second-team AP All-American pick. Finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (biggest influence on team). 2012: Started 12 games, but missed two games with a hamstring injury. 2011: Started all 14 games at middle linebacker. Ranked second in the Big Ten (behind teammate Mike Taylor) with 143 tackles, and third in Big Ten with 19 tackles for loss. 2010: Medical Redshirt due to season-ending shoulder injury. Played in two games. 2009: Big Ten Freshman of the Year and honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Played in all 13 games with six starts as a true freshman. Led team with five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
STREGTHS & WEAKNESSES: He’s always been someone people look at and immediately downgrade. Physically, he’s not an intimidating figure, but listen to just about anyone and he’s got as good of a nose for the football as anyone in the college ranks. His height and wingspan are two things, physically, that Borland has working against him, however, he’s a good fit fo a team looking to get a guy to simply tackle, tackle, tackle and not be such an impact player from sideline to sideline.
JAMES WHITE: 2013: Second-team All-Big Ten selection. Finished season with 100-plus rushing yards in five of final six games. Had 1,444 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. 2012: Played in all 14 games, finishing with 806 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. 2011: Played in 13 games, finishing with 713 yards rushing and six touchdowns. 2010: Big Ten Freshman of the Year and honorable mention All-Big Ten after rushing for 1,052 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns
STREGTHS & WEAKNESSES: He’s never been a featured back at Wisconsin. And constantly having to share the spotlight with some of the other big names has somewhat detteriorated his draft stock. Others look at White and see a playmaker. His ability to find a gap and hit for the big play is uncanny in many. And the work ethic and team approach he’s constantly taken speaks well of his character. He’s continued progressing when coming out of the backfield to catch the football, and his knowledge of the offense makes him a really good fit for a team looking for a solid third down back or someone to spell 10 carries per game.
JACOB PEDERSEN: 2013: Honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Started in 12 games and had 551 receiving yards. 2012: First-team All-Big Ten pick after playing in all 14 games and making nine starts. 2011: Honorable mention All-Big Ten pick and was a Mackey Award semifinalist (given to nation’s top tight end). Had a career-high eight touchdown receptions. 2010: Played in all 13 games and made four starts. 2009: Redshirted.
STREGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Everyone knows Pedersen as the guy who does the dirty work. Catches balls in traffic, throws a block downfield when needed and is able to line up in a variety of positions varied upon the down and distance. Scouts love Pedersen’s ability to both crack down the end and get off the line of scrimmage and into his route. Without standout size, he’s a viable option on the perimeter, but might lack the strength in running situations if he’s going to be an every down back. How well he catches the football this weekend could have a BIG impact on his NFL future.
RYAN GROY: First-team All-Big Ten selection after starting in all 13 games. 2012: Second-team All-Big Ten selection after starting in all 14 games. 2011: Played in all 14 games and started in four. 2010: Played in all 13 games and started in two. 2009: Redshirted.
STREGTHS & WEAKNESSES: Everyone loves a smart and sizeable offensive lineman. That’s exactly what Groy boasts. He’s accelerated to where he’s at with his blue collared approach. Adding to it the pedigree of coming from the highly-touted Wisconsin system, he’s got nothing but upside. Some say he lacks explosiveness, however, stepping up to the professional level game will likely assist with that.
DEZMAN SOUTHWARD: Two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Started all 27 games in final two college seasons. 2013: Started all 13 games. 2012: Started all 14 games. Recorded 10 tackles in Big Ten Championship win over Nebraska. 2011: Played in 13 games and started three. 2010: Played in all 13 games. 2009: Redshirted. High school: First year of playing organized football was as a senior.
STREGTHS & WEAKNESSES: At 6-foot tall, Southward has his size working for him. The day of the under 5-11 CB is gone, and if he plans to make an impact at the line of scrimmage, the 210 pound frame is going to help. He’s got so much to learn having only played one year of high school football before coming into the college game. He’s got great ball instincts and loves the challenge of being put on the island. Mentally, he’s about as strong as they come, and in a forget about the last play type league, he’s got potential.