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.
We finish our examination of the top draft picks of the past decade with No. 1, Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt.
Possibly the best defensive player in the NFL started his career as a Wisconsin Badgers.
Well, technically he started it in Central Michigan, but when JJ Watt realized that wasn’t where he wanted to be, he transferred to UW-Madison, and walked on to the football team.
He quickly made a name for himself, earning scout team player of the year honors in a redshirt season, and dominating the defensive line his two years as a starter.
He left school early to enter the NFL draft, and was selected 11th overall by the Houston Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Watt hasn’t missed a game in four seasons, and is putting together a Hall of Fame calibre career.
In four seasons, Watt has 295 tackles, 57.0 sacks (including two 20.5 sack seasons), 62 stuffs, 37 passes defended, 12 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown and four blocked kicks.
Oh, and when the Texans realized how physically dominant he could be in multiple situations, they started throwing him the ball near the goal line. Watt caught three passes for three touchdowns in 2014.
Dec 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive endJ.J. Watt
(99) during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Watt took home the AP Defensive Player of the Year and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in both 2012 and 2014. He was the MVP runner-up in 2014, and he’s a three-time Pro Bowler (2012-2014) and a three-time first team All-Pro selection (2012-2014).
The NFL Network recently ranked him the No. 12 player in the league.
Off the field, Watt is just as impressive. Whether it’s any of a variety events through his foundation, making the day of a young child with a visit or a letter, or any of numerous charity acts, Watt truly shows that you can be a one of the toughest players on the field and still be a good person off of it.
He’s been fun to watch play so far in his young career, and odds are we’ll be talking about JJ Watt for a long, long time.
Stay tuned to Badger of Honor as we continue to count down the Top 5 Wisconsin Badgers draft picks of the past decade.