In a move that sent nearly the entire state of Wisconsin into a collective state of euphoria, the Green Bay Packers selected Badgers wide receiver Jared Abbrederis with the final pick in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
General manager Ted Thompson, who has been with the team since 2005, had never drafted a Badger during his career in Green Bay before selecting Abbrederis with the 176th overall pick. It is something of a dream come true for Abbrederis, whose hometown of Wautoma is just roughly 95 miles from Lambeau Field.
While this pick is certainly one of the best feel-good stories of not just Day 3, but the entire draft, there is no doubt that Thompson wouldn’t have made this selection unless he really liked what he saw in Abbrederis.
During his career at UW, Abbrederis was extremely consistent for the Badgers, proving to be a viable receiving target for a team that didn’t really have an abundance of talent at the wide receiver position. He left Madison tied for the school record for career receptions with 202, while also ranking second in program history in both career receiving yards (3,140) and touchdown receptions (23).
Abbrederis wasn’t a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school. In fact, he walked on at Wisconsin and redshirted during his freshman year, making himself into a standout wide receiver thanks to his tremendous work ethic and his tendency to play with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.
His hard work not only helped him become the team’s best receiving option, but earned him several accolades along the way as well. Abbrederis was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in both 2012 and 2013, and won the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy, given to the country’s best player who began his career as a walk-on.
He was originally projected to be a third or fourth round pick in the draft, but he surprisingly wasn’t selected until the tail end of the fifth round. It’s likely that teams were concerned with questions about his durability; he has suffered several concussions throughout his career and tends to get banged up.
Abbrederis also isn’t the fastest guy in the world and is pretty lean for an NFL receiver, so those could have been factors in the hesitation from teams to select him earlier as well. These questions are cause for concern, and it will take him time to develop after the transition to the pros.
That being said, Abbrederis is still deceptively quick and was widely regarded as one of the best route runners in the entire draft, and he definitely has the potential to be a legitimate No. 2 receiving option in the NFL. He has proven in the past that he will put in whatever work is necessary, so this pick could end up being much more than a feel-good moment for the fanbase. In fact, CBSSports.com senior college football columnist Bruce Feldman called the pick the “steal of the draft”.
So there were certainly teams and there might even be fans that are skeptical about his ability to succeed in the pros, but don’t expect Abbrederis to care.
After all, he’s made a career out of proving people wrong.