Bold Predictions For The 2021 Badgers Defense

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Earlier this week, I shared my bold predictions for the Badgers offense. The offense should be a lot better in 2021. Today, we’ll take a look at the Badgers defense. The defense does lose some key players. Isaiah Loudermilk was drafted in the 5th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rachad Wildgoose was selected in the 6th round by the Buffalo Bills, and Eric Burrell is currently with the New Orleans Saints. Here are my bold predictions for the Badgers defense!

Keeanu Benton Will Be An All-Conference Nose Tackle

UW defensive coaches want to see Keeanu Benton become a consistent threat
Tork Mason/ USA TODAY NETWORK- Wisconsin

The stats were not there for Keeanu Benton in 2020 as he only recorded 8 tackles and 12 tackles in 2019. However, the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense will not be the headliner. Their job is to plug up the holes and let the linebackers fill in. Ever since he stepped foot on campus, Benton has made an immediate impact on the field and has been really hard to take off the field.

Benton does have to stay healthy this year. He has had an history of injuries. If he can stay healthy on the field, I think he can be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the Big Ten.

Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal Will Be The Best Linebacker Duo In The Big Ten

Leo Chenal | Football | Wisconsin Badgers

Jack Sanborn was a 3rd team All-Big Ten linebacker in 2020. While Chenal didn’t receive the attention Sanborn did, I though Chenal played really well in his first year as a starter. He was second on the team in tackles with 40 and had 3 sacks and one interception against Michigan.

Sanborn had an all around solid 2020 season as well. He led the team with 52 tackles and had 1 sack and 1 interception as well. He’s been a solid contributor ever since he’s been a starter as well. With another year of Sanborn and Chenal, the inside linebacker duo should be one of the most productive duos in the conference and one of the best in the conference.

Nick Herbig Will Lead The Team In Sacks

Nick Herbig | Football | Wisconsin Badgers

Nick Herbig was really good as a freshman in 2020. He had an opportunity to start and play meaningful snaps and did not disappoint. He looks like he could follow the steps of Joe Schobert, T.J. Watt, and Zach Baun the next great Wisconsin outside linebacker.

Herbig only had 1 sack last season, but it’s really difficult to contribute immediately as a freshman in college football. A limited season because of COVID didn’t help either. However, from the flashes I saw from Herbig, he has the traits to become a force on this Wisconsin defense. He’s only scratched the surface so I can’t wait to see him progress in 2021 and beyond.

Wisconsin Will Be A Top 5 Defense In The Country

Jim Leonhard Wisconsin's defensive whiz kid
Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire

This doesn’t seem like a bold prediction because this is what Wisconsin has done recently. Ever since Jim Leonard became the defensive coordinator, Wisconisn has consistently had a defense that is one of the best in the Big Ten and the country. In 2020, the Badgers were the 4th ranked overall defense in the country

However, the Badgers so have some glaring needs, especially on the defensive line and secondary. Defensive end and Corner is what concerns me the most in particular.

We shouldn’t question Jim Leonard and what he can do with this defense. They always come ready to play and have kept the Badgers in a ton of games when the offense has struggled. 2021 should be no different. I expect this defense to hold a majority of the opponents. With the amount of veterans and great linebacker core, I expect them to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and fill in the gaps on running plays. It could take a little time, but there is no doubt the Badger defense should have a solid 2021 campaign.

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