Wisconsin Football: Top 1st Round Draft Picks in Badgers History

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Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Irvin tackle Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns (73) in the 2015 Pro Bowl against Team Carter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Irvin tackle Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns (73) in the 2015 Pro Bowl against Team Carter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A look at Wisconsin football players who lived up to the hype of a first round pick in the NFL Draft

The Wisconsin football team has a long history of sending players to the NFL through the draft, and many former Badgers have had the distinction of being a first round pick in the NFL Draft.

The Badgers have had 31 players drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, beginning with Eddie Jankowski’s selection as the ninth overall pick in 1937 to the Green Bay Packers.

Most recently, Melvin Gordon went No. 15 overall to the San Diego Chargers in the 2015 NFL Draft.

In between, 29 other Badgers have been selected in the first round, and together the 31 1st round draftees have combined for 33 Pro Bowl appearances, multiple NFL Championships and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Since 2000, the Badgers have seen a resurgence of players getting into the NFL through the first round of the draft. After 18 Badgers were selected with first round picks from 1937-1999, 13 Badgers have been drafted in the first round in the year 2000 and after.

Wisconsin has has multiple first round picks in the same draft four times. A pair of Badgers went in the first round of the draft in 2000 – running back Ron Dayne (11th overall) and offensive tackle Chris McIntosh (22nd overall) – 2001 – cornerback Jamar Fletcher (26th overall) and running back Michael Bennett (27th overall) – and in 2011 – defensive end J.J. Watt (11th overall) and offensive tackle Gabe Carimi (29th overall).

Three Badgers were selected in the first round of the 1985 draft – wide receiver Al Toon (10th overall), cornerback Richard Johnson (11th overall) and defensive end Daryl Sims (20th overall).

While some of the Badgers first rounders haven’t had NFL careers that lived up to the billing of a first round draft pick, many have gone on to become NFL superstars.

Here’s a look at some of the most successful former Badgers who began their NFL careers as first round draft picks.

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