Wisconsin Badgers In The NFL: The All-Time Team Unveiled

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Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) walks onto the field before a game — Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

DE – J.J. Watt

Watt is the definitive best player at his position in the NFL. In only three seasons he’s amassed an astonishing 36.5 sacks and 8 forced fumbles. His productivity has translated to two Pro Bowl invitations and two All-Pro honors as well as the AP Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012. Watt is on pace to become an all-time great in the NFL. His motor is what separates him from the other players, he simply never quits. Look for another big year out of him in 2014.

DT – Tim Krumrie

The Bengals had the luxury of having Krumrie for the entirety of his twelve-year career. He amassed 1,017 tackles in the pros and led the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII — where he suffered a gruesome broken leg. In 1987-88 he went to back-to-back Pro Bowls and was a real leader on the field. His 34.5 sacks were fourth most in franchise history at the time of his retirement.

DT – Don Davey

Davey put together a solid eight-year NFL career in the 1990s. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and later played for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a definitive run-stuffer and he totaled 131 tackles in his career. Football wasn’t his last profession though, he currently owns Firehouse Subs in Madison.

DE – Bill Gregory

Gregory played ten seasons in the NFL; mostly with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s. Although he only played in Seattle for three seasons, he was a starter for all three seasons. But in Dallas he played his role successfully and won two Super Bowls along the way. He started 63 of his 142 career games, recovered six fumbles and intercepted two passes from the defensive end position.

OLB – Jonathan Casillas

Casillas has been primarily a backup during his four seasons in the NFL (12 starts) but he’s made the most of his opportunities — especially in the Super Bowl. He’s credited with recovering the third quarter onside kick by the New Orleans Saints, which helped them defeat the Indianapolis Colts in an upset. If not for injury Casillas would have most-likely been a starter for the Saints in recent years but he has a new opportunity in Tampa Bay he’ll look to embrace in 2014.

ILB – Deral Teteak 

Teteak may not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he is in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. He played in the 1950s and made it to one Pro Bowl while in the NFL. His career was cut short as he only played five seasons at the professional level. Who knows what his career would have been had he been able to play 10-12 years. If anyone can knock Teteak from this position on this list, my money would be on 2014 rookie Chris Borland. If he can put together a few solid years in the NFL, he very well may replace Teteak.

OLB – Michael Reid

Just like Teteak, Reid’s career was short and concise. He played only six seasons as a professional — all with the Atlanta Falcons. He made an impact when he found the field but never could grab the starting role. He is still an athlete though. He currently lives in Atlanta and teaches Chinese Martial Arts to area youths.

CB – Troy Vincent

Vincent is one of Madison’s most successful alumni in the NFL. His 15-year career drips with accolades. He was a five-time Pro Bowl invitee, three-time All-Pro selection and was possibly the best player at his position in the NFL in 2001, 02, 03. He won the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award in 2002 and the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award in 2004. He was known primarily as a Philadelphia Eagle, despite lacing ’em up for four different teams during his playing days.

CB – Nate Odomes

The Buffalo Bills of the early-1990s were a force to be reckoned with — Odomes had a big part in that. He was known as one of the best defensive backs of the the early-90s and went to back-to-back Pro Bowls in 1992 and 1993. Over the course of his career he snagged 26 interceptions, with a career high nine in 1993. He recovered eight fumbles during his career and scored a total of three defensive touchdowns.

Buffalo Bills free safety Jim Leonhard (35) runs after intercepting pass — Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

S – Jim Leonhard

Leonhard has put together a pretty good career in the NFL. He was a primary starter from 2008-2011 and has brought in 12 interceptions over his career. But is coming off a career high in interceptions with four in 2013. He has made 385 tackles over the course of his career. And he was a return man in the NFL for quite some time as well; averaging 21.1 yards-per-kick return and 9.3 yards-per-punt return over his career. Leonhard is essentially the de facto kick returner on this team as well.

S – Don Kindt

Kindt played nine seasons in the NFL, all of which he spent with the Chicago Bears. He led the Bears in interceptions several times and managed to get invited to one Pro Bowl in his career as well. He played in a time where the safety position was more about run defense but his solid hands made the most of his opportunities when the ball was thrown in his vicinity.

K – Jim Bakken

One of the first great kickers in NFL history was Bakken. He was invited to four Pro Bowls over the course of his career and was named the the NFL 1960s and 1970s All-Decade Teams. His 17-year career was spent entirely with the St. Louis Cardinals (not the baseball team, folks). And in 1967 he set an NFL record of making seven field goals in a single game. The record stood until 2007 when Rob Bironas broke it with eight.


By far the weakest position on the Badgers’ All-Time NFL team is linebacker. They’ve yet, in their ancient history, have had a linebacker leave Madison and dominate at the professional level. Maybe Chris Borland will change that and find his name on this list in a couple years.

The strongest positions on the Badgers’ All-Time NFL team are cornerback and offensive line. Their cornerback duo would challenge any university’s all-time cornerback duo; as both players were exceptionally explosive in the pros. It comes as no surprise that the offensive line is so dominant … this is Wisconsin we’re talking about.

AFL Honorable Mentions:

To these three players who excelled at the professional level in the AFL but not in the NFL after leaving Madison: TE – Dave Kocourek, LB – Jim Fraser, and CB – Bob Zeman.