Each summer, NFL teams participate in the latest edition of the draft to try to improve their rosters. Teams often look to upgrade their defense and several teams may benefit in the future NFL power rankings by adding quality linebackers in 2019. Wisconsin may provide a trio of talented linebackers who will go in the top half of the draft, as of the latest reports.
Over the years, the Wisconsin Badgers have brought a number of quality offensive linemen or running backs into the league. In the past few years, they’ve started to produce talented linebackers that have included T.J. Watt and Jack Cichy. Watt had the benefit of joining a Pittsburgh Steelers squad that has been known for defense over the years. They also were amongst the top teams in the NFL power rankings during Watt’s rookie season. Cichy joined a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is continuing to upgrade their defense for seasons ahead.
The Walter Football website provides regular NFL mock drafts and reports regarding new prospects. They issued one June 2018 report that details T.J. Edwards, Ryan Connelly, and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. These three defensive prospects have been impressive ahead of the 2018-19 college football season and have the chance to really help out teams in need.
The Wisconsin senior Edwards is known as a steady player with technique and discipline. Some say he isn’t the most athletic of linebackers, but he has terrific play recognition and consistently makes tackles. He’s got the right instincts, puts himself in the right positions to make plays, and is also considered a physical presence. In his junior year as a member of the Badgers, he had 81 tackles, two sacks, four interceptions, and seven pass breakups. It seems like Edwards could be the best of the bunch and go first of the three, but a lot depends on his next season.
That isn’t to say that Van Ginkel and Connelly won’t be quality additions to the right rosters, though. Van Ginkel had 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss as an outside linebacker for Wisconsin. He’s also projected to become better after another year with the Badgers and could provide a 4.70 time for the 40-year dash.
Connelly is said to have a projected time in the 40-yard dash of 4.65 seconds. He had 88 tackles including 11 for a loss, three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble during his 2017 season. At 6-foot-2 and 237 pounds that sort of build and speed could benefit a team in their future NFL power rankings position.
These three Wisconsin Badgers linebackers will have another season to audition for the professional league. At Wisconsin, they also have the benefit of a great defensive coordinator in former NFL player Jim Leonhard. He played under a number of top defensive coaches for teams including the Bills, Jets, Broncos, and Ravens while in the NFL. Now Leonhard is helping to groom future defensive stars to enter the NFL with teams desperate for their services. It should be interesting to see where Edwards, Van Ginkel, and Connelly end up for their rookie seasons, and the impact these three defensive prospects have.