Badgers in the Pros: Wisconsin Linemen Heading to Pro Bowl


The 2014 NFL Pro Bowl rosters are out, and three former Wisconsin Badgers have been selected to represent their teams in the all-star-game: defensive lineman JJ Watt and offensive linemen Travis Frederick and Joe Thomas.

The three former Badgers represent how Wisconsin has translated to the NFL, with all three Pro Bowl selections playing in the trenches on the offensive or defensive line.

JJ Watt

Watt’s third straight selection to the Pro Bowl comes as no surprise, as he’s destroying the NFL right now. Playing on a subpar Houston Texans squad, Watt is giving NFL fans a reason to flip over to the Texans game.

A quick glance at his statistics shows an impressive – and very odd – combination of achievements that make Watt one of the most unique stars in the NFL.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

72 tackles (53 solo). 17.5 sacks. 3 forced fumbles. 5 recovered fumbles. 10 passes defended. 1 interception. 1 fumble recvovery touchdown. 1 interception returned for a touchdown. 1 blocked kick.

And it doesn’t stop there…

Add 3 receptions on 3 targets for 4 yards and three touchdowns.

Watt has scored 30 points this season. He’s a defensive end…

His 2014 campaign has been one of the most unique seasons a player has ever turned out. His selection to the Pro Bowl comes as no surprise.

Travis Frederick

Taken as the second-to-last pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, many fans were upset the organization chose to draft a lineman when so many other needs were present.

Fast forward two years, and Frederick is one of the best centers in the game, and in the middle of one of the best offensive lines in all of football. The group has helped Dallas become the No. 2 rushing offense in the NFL (trailing only Seattle, who has a former Badger quarterback helping in the running game).

Frederick and the rest of the line has paved the way for the NFL’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, who has 1,745 yards on the ground with one game left on the schedule.

Frederick is clearly deserving of the Pro Bowl selection.

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Joe Thomas

Seasoned veteran left tackle Joe Thomas is no stranger to the Pro Bowl.

The third overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, Thomas has since played AND started in 121 straight games for the Cleveland Browns. He’s been a Pro Bowler every year of his career.

He’s as close to the unanimous best at a single position as anyone in the game. As the Cleveland Browns have had their ups and downs over the years, they’ve had one constant since 2007 – Joe Thomas.

The game

The 2015 Pro Bowl will be played at the site of Super Bowl XLIV in Glendale, Arizona, Jan. 25, 2015 at 8 p.m. ET, airing on ESPN.

The rosters will once again be determined with a Pro Bowl draft, to be held Wednesday, Dec. 24, with Michael Irvin and Chris Carter selecting the teams.

You can see the Pro Bowl selections in full here.