Scouting the Big Ten: Wisconsin

Graduation took a major toll on the Wisconsin program yet there is still plenty of talent on the roster. Several experienced players must step up and take their game to another level if the team is to be successful this season. As is the case almost every year, the top NFL prospects from Wisconsin reside on the offensive line.

Center Donovan Raiola has outstanding bloodlines as well as playing skill. The younger brother of Detroit blocker Dominic, Raiola possesses much of the quickness and explosion that characterizes his sibling's game. A leverage blocker, he displays great jolt at the point of attack and is quick out to the second level. A devastating blocker in motion, Raiola seals linebackers from the action and displays great adjustment to his game. Not strong at the point of attack or a lineman who finishes blocks, Raiola rarely opens holes in the middle of the field yet would be an outstanding prospect for a team which consistently put its blockers in motion.

Junior left tackle Joe Thomas is potentially the next outstanding offensive lineman from the program. Quick off the snap, he is a solid position blocker that displays outstanding range and skill in pass protection. Sliding his feet, Thomas possesses solid footwork and has the ability to get out on the second level, then annihilate linebackers. More of a finesse, wall-off blocker, Thomas is by no means a masher yet possesses tremendous upside for the next level.

Fullback Matt Bernstein is easily the best lead blocker in the nation. A dominant force, Bernstein devastates opponents, easily removing them from the action, opening huge holes for his ball carrier. Truly a finisher, Bernstein also offers skill as a short yardage runner and is not a bad pass catcher. Speed is a major concern as Bernstein is not quick off the snap nor does he have the ability to get around tackle and create space for ball carriers.

Running back Booker Stanley is a versatile skill position player and ball handler. A patient back, he waits for blocks to develop, then follows them. Quick footed, he makes defenders miss yet is deceptively strong and displays the ability to break the first tackle. Quick through the hole, Stanley also stands out as a receiver. Not a back who can run to daylight, Stanley possesses more of a short area burst. Suspended in May for his role in a fight, Stanley will be forced to miss the first two practices of the Badgers' fall training camp.

Wisconsin has a pair of receivers to keep an eye on. A naturally gifted prospect, Jonathan Orr displayed flashes of brilliance as a freshman when he helped fill in for an injured Lee Evans. Working hard to sell routes, Orr does a solid job coming back to the quarterback and making the reception. More of a long strider, he does not win out in battles and loses concentration, dropping very easy throws. Never capitalizing off his great freshman campaign, Orr needs a big senior season to get selected.

Another prospect whose football has seemingly leveled off would be Orr's teammate Brandon Williams. Extending to consistently make the reception away from his frame, Williams is also a solid blocker down the field yet must take his game in the next level.

Defensively the talent is thin as most of the top Badger prospects are now in the NFL. Keep an eye on linebacker LaMarr Watkins, an explosive defender who stands out on special teams. Cornerback Brett Bell flashes abilities as a shut down cover man and could turn himself into a solid prospect with a good senior campaign.

Badger Nation Top Stories