With the 2015 NFL Draft fast approaching, Badger of Honor takes a look back at the Top 5 Wisconsin Badgers drafted in the past decade.
This is about production at the highest level, and the Badgers drafted over the past 10 years have certainly produced. Wisconsin has produced Super Bowl champions, big-time award winners, multiple Pro Bowlers and long-term starters.
Since 2005, 42 Badgers have entered the NFL as a draft pick, six of them as first rounders. And while not all of the draft picks have panned out, the Badgers have a solid showing in the NFL right now.
Let’s dive in to the top draft picks of the past decade, starting with some honorable mention selections.
January 22, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Irvin center Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys (72) during the 2015 Pro Bowl practice at Luke Air Force Base. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Frederick: 2013, Round 1, pick 31, Dallas Cowboys
In 2013, the Cowboys’ first round selection caused a stir in the media. Dallas traded back from the 18th overall selection and picked the Wisconsin center 31st overall.
People thought the Cowboys reached to add Frederick – the ninth offensive lineman taken in that first round – and criticized the organization.
Two years later, it’s looking like a pretty smart move.
Frederick has started 32 straight regular season games (he was the first rookie center in franchise history to start every game at center) and was elected to his first Pro Bowl this past year.
He has helped Dallas put together one of the best offensive lines in the NFL — and he’s only heading into his third season in the NFL.
The future is certainly bright for this former Wisconsin Badgers star.
Kevin Zeitler: 2012, Round 1, pick 27, Cincinnati Bengals
Another first round draft pick people questioned at the time came in 2012 when Kevin Zeitler was taken 27th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.
People thought it was a bit of a stretch, and thought Zeitler was worth a mid-second round pick. The Bengals, however, liked what they saw, and the move paid off.
While he has missed a few games over his short career, in three seasons Zeitler has started 39 of the 40 games he has played, and has developed into a solid NFL guard who the Bengals are working on locking into a long-term contract.
Zeitler is another in a long line of successful Wisconsin linemen, and he has plenty of time left in his career to add to the accomplishments the group has put together.
O’Brien Schofield: 2010, Round 4, pick 32 (140 overall), Arizona Cardinals
In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals traded back in the fourth round, and with the second-to-last selection of the round, grabbed Wisconsin defensive end O’Brien Schofield.
Schofield has since played in 66 career games, spending his first three seasons with the Cardinals and the past two with the Seattle Seahawks. He is now on the Atlanta Falcons heading into the 2015 season.
In his career, Schofield has totaled 111 total tackles, 13.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
While he’s mostly been a role player, it’s tough to ignore that Super Bowl ring he earned with the 2013 Seahawks squad.
November 27, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Chris Borland (50) tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) during the first quarter at Levi
Chris Borland: 2014, Round 3, pick 13 (77 overall), San Francisco 49ers
I allowed myself one “what if?” listing in the honorable mention section.
Chris Borland was headed for big things when he made the admirable decision to walk away from the game due to injury concerns.
Drafted by the 49ers early in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, many thought Borland was taken about where he should have been.
After an injury to a teammate pushed him into the starting role, Borland went on a tear in 2014. In 14 games, Borland registered 107 total tackles (84 solo), a sack, 11 stuffs, a pair of interceptions, and five passes defended.
He bucked the common thought that his size wouldn’t translate to the NFL — the reason he was a third round pick and not taken much earlier — and proved he could compete at the highest level.
And just as we were waiting to see where he would go in 2015, Borland walked away from the game, leaving us wondering “what if?” while respecting the tough decision he has made.
Stay tuned to Badger of Honor as we continue to count down the Top 5 Wisconsin Badgers draft picks of the past decade.