Nonetheless, there were some moments where certain NFL prospects impressed and others that had head-scratching moments.
As ESPN Draft Expert Todd McShay said during the Rose Bowl, Ball projects to be the first or second running back taken and it’s mostly due to his strong finish to the season. Ohio State and Stanford have the two stingiest run defenses in the country and Ball still had 291 total yards against them. His jump-cuts and vision of the field have vastly improved since deciding to return at the end of last year. Ball gets another shot to impress in the Senior Bowl on January 26th. If he balls there, he could sneak in to the first round if a team needs a running back that bad.
Stanford TE Zach Ertz (Junior)
If this 6’6”, 252 pound man-child decides to declare for the draft, he will be the first tight-end taken. Not only is he a huge target, he’s a great blocker. He didn’t have a huge game in the Rose Bowl, but did catch a 43 yard pass which set up Stanford’s second score of the game.
RB Stepfan Taylor (Senior)
Taylor is a very similar back to Ball except he’s not as great in open space and doesn’t have the burst that the Badgers back has. He’s the type of guy who projects to be a great complimentary back in the NFL. Look for him to be taken somewhere in the middle rounds after the best of a deep running back class is taken.
DB Devin Smith (Senior)
Smith had a good game in that his assignments didn’t have much production. Stanford decided to exploit his teammate Marcus Cromartie who struggled on a few occasions. Smith became one of the team’s most improved players on the defensive side and has the athletic ability to help an NFL team. He won’t go until the later rounds, but he’s a guy worth keeping an eye on leading up to the Draft. Linebacker Mike Taylor is another late round guy for Wisconsin.
OL Ricky Wagner and OL Travis Frederick (Senior and Junior)
As a whole, the Badgers offensive line performed fairly well against a loaded Stanford defense. However, Wagner and Frederick (has not yet declared) both struggled in key situations. Wagner had a blatant hold on a called-back touchdown and Frederick missed a couple of blocks on short yardage situations. The reason they are falling is because they came into the year as possible first round picks. Wagner is being described as a poor-man’s Gabe Carimi who’s struggling big time in Chicago. Frederick has more value than Wagner because of his ability to play both the guard and center position.
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Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at email@example.com.
Pictures courtesy of ESPN.