The Wisconsin Badgers are set to have several players taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. Keeanu Benton, Joe Tippmann, and Nick Herbig are perhaps the biggest names and most likely to get drafted among Badgers players this year. However, not many scouts and draft experts have them being drafted in the first round. In fact, no Badgers have been taken in the first round of any NFL Draft since 2017 when TWO were taken.
That year, TJ Watt was drafted 30th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ryan Ramczyk was drafted 32nd overall by the New Orleans Saints. According to PFF, one of the Badgers players in this year’s draft could become a surprise first round pick and give Wisconsin its first Day One draft pick in six years.
PFF Names Wisconsin Badgers Star Keeanu Benton as 1 of 7 Possible Surprise First Round Picks
Trevor Sikkema of PFF writes of Benton:
“There aren’t many prospects who are having a better draft cycle than Benton. Going into this past college football season, Benton was seen as a big run-stuffing nose tackle, but he really worked on becoming a more reliable three-down player by improving his pass-rush ability. He certainly did that, jumping from a 74.9 pass-rush grade in 2021 to an 83.5 pass-rush grade in 2022. His 30 total pressures and six sacks were more than he totaled the previous two seasons combined. He’s big, strong, decently explosive and now well-rounded for all three downs. He could sneak into the top 32.”
In early January, I checked on several mock drafts and looked specifically at where Benton was taken:
- Dog Pound Daily– Browns: Fourth Round
- Browns Wire– Browns: Fourth Round
- Steelers Depot– Steelers: Fourth Round
- The Falcoholic– Falcons: Third Round
- Buffalow Down– Bills: Fifth Round
- The Landry Hat- Cowboys: Fourth Round
- Bear Goggles On– Bears: Fourth Round
- Arrowhead Addict– Chiefs: Third Round
As one can see, the highest Benton was projected to go was in the third round with most picking him in the fourth or fifth. Since January, however, Benton has played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and participated in the NFL Scouting Combine. Needless to say, his stock has gone up.
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