Over the past decade, the Wisconsin Badgers have emerged as an underrated hot-bed for NFL talent in the Midwest. The Badgers ability to develop professional talent peaked in 2011 when two of their alumni were drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, the Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt (11th overall) and the Chicago Bears OL Gabe Carimi (29th overall).
Next in line for the Badgers in the NFL is senior wide-out Nick Toon. Just three games into the 2011 season, it appears imminent that Toon has the skills and big-play ability to become a main-stay on whatever NFL team calls his name in April of 2012.
First and foremost, we know that Toon has the pedigree to be an NFL star as his father, Al Toon, played for the New York Jets from 1985 to 1992. In his eight years with the Jets, Toon racked up 517 receptions for 6,605 yards, 31 touchdowns and three Pro-Bowl selections.
Nick admits that having his father who’s also a UW grad is a tremendous luxury to have.
“Definitely having someone as accomplished as my father, someone who has gone through it and had some success at the next level is a resource most people dont have. I’m obviously very fortunate,” said Toon.
Even with a famous father, Nick knows it’s not an easy road to the NFL, there’s always room to get better. For Toon, his senior year is an opportunity to improve on his “footwork at the line of scrimmage, getting out of my breaks and increasing my football I.Q.”
Thus far, Toon has excelled in all of those areas while becoming Heisman-Hopeful Russell Wilson’s favorite target. As Toon’s battery-mate, Wilson has targeted Nick 18 times and connected on 14 of those passes, resulting in 198 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
After burning Northern Illinois for 347 yards through the air last week, Toon finds Wilson complimentary to his game and likes what they have brewing in Madison.
“Russell played great. That’s one of the assets of his game, he’ll throw to the open guy and spread the wealth. He did that today and was smart with the ball.”
While a lot of the Badgers national attention has surrounded Wilson, Head Coach Bret Bielema is well aware of the special kind of player he has lined up on the outside and the connection he has with Wilson.
“Nick Toon has probably played the most three complete games that I can remember for a long time, really doing a nice job for us,” said Bielema.
“They’ve been good on routes where they need to be, and Nick’s been really good at catching the ball in his hands. I think that’s the part that, again, when the NFL people come in, they just make the comment about all of Nick’s catches are away from his body. He catches them in his hands, and that’s really a lost art.”
When Toon is healthy and playing (missed four games in 2010 to turf toe and a thigh injury), he’s one of the best receivers in the Big Ten. NFL scouts have taken notice and that’s why experts have him shooting up draft boards (top 10 receiver), all the way to the second round in many instances.
If Toon can continue to mature and improve, maybe he will become a first round draft pick, similar to his father who was selected 10th overall in the 1985 Draft.
What do you think of Nick Toon and his status as a prospect? Will he ultimately follow in his father’s footsteps and become a first-round draft pick? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.