Buenning optimistic about NFL future

Former UW guard expects to be drafted on Saturday, hopes to earn spot in Pro Bowl during NFL career

Dan Buenning will bring some lofty goals with him to the NFL when he is drafted this weekend. A four-year starter at guard for the University of Wisconsin, Buenning boasts a wide array of accomplishments from his college football career and he expects to translate that success into a prominent tenure in the professional ranks.

Buenning, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound native of Green Bay, Wis., said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he thinks he will eventually be a starter in the NFL and he is driven to someday make the Pro Bowl. More than anything, however, he hopes to be in position to win a Super Bowl some day.

"That's one thing I haven't done yet is win a championship in football," said Buenning, who played in three bowl games, winning one, while at UW. The Badgers were 29-22 in his four seasons in the lineup. "That's a big goal for me, helping the team win the championship, Super Bowl, conference, all that stuff."

Buenning started 49 of 51 games the past four seasons, including 36 consecutive to close out his career. A captain last fall, Buenning was a second-team All-Big Ten choice as a junior and a consensus first-team all-conference pick as a senior. Pro Football Weekly tabbed him as a first-team All-American, while the Associated Press dubbed him a second-team All-American.

"In college I thought mostly about helping the team out as much as I could and being an All American, which I accomplished," Buenning said of his Pro Bowl aspirations. "I figured if I can do that, why not be the best at the next level too?"

Typically laid back, Buenning has not fretted over the draft selection process to this point, but "these next few days might be a little harder," he said. "Saturday will be the hardest."

Buenning expects to be selected on the draft's first day, Saturday, which includes rounds 1-3. The fourth through seventh rounds take place Sunday.

Since UW's pro day in March Buenning has had individual workouts with the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears in Madison and he has visited the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams for workouts.

"Basically they just want to see you move your feet and do the drills that they want you to do," Buenning said of the private workouts. "And see how you react to that stuff."

"I expect to be picked on the first day," he said. "Whether it be second or third round, I don't know. What team? I don't know. Those teams I mentioned before seem to be the major possibilities but you never know if some other team comes and picks me or what but I expect it to be on the first day."

Most draft projections have Buenning going in the third or fourth round. He is the No. 13 ranked guard prospect in the draft according to Scout.com. Buenning said he pays cursory attention to the wide array of draft information that bombards the airwaves, newspapers and Internet in the weeks before the draft; he is more concerned with what he is hearing from the NFL scouts and coaches he has talked to.

"They just like the fact that I played a lot, I have experience," he said. "And I know about football, I know what it takes to play my position, I know what I have to do. They like that and they like the fact that I'm strong, that I have a good mentality about it."

Buenning, who will likely be the second Badger who hears his name called this weekend, following defensive end Erasmus James, will watch the draft from his parent's house in Green Bay, along with some friends and family members. He will not be glued to the ESPN broadcast, however. "[I will] try to do something else [to] keep busy," he said. "Do some work around the house or something."

Completing his fifth year at the UW, Buenning took nine credits this spring and will complete his bachelor's degree in agricultural science in May.

"All I have left basically is two tests and a presentation and I'm graduated," he said.

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