The Wisconsin football program seems to put out three NFL offensive linemen every year. That may be an exaggeration but rest assured, at least one Badger hog winds up in the NFL on an annual basis. In fact, since 2000, 14 Wisconsin blockers have been taken in the draft, the most of any school over that time span.
This year is no different as center Travis Frederick is the most highly regarded Badger offensive linemen in this year's class. Corn-fed Midwestern farm boys seem to grow up into Wisconsin offensive linemen and they take pride in the tradition and the level of excellence at which they play.
The Chicago Bears will be in the market for an interior offensive lineman in this draft and could give Frederick strong consideration if he's available in the second round. Let's break down the film of Frederick to find out what he could bring to the Windy City.
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Arms: 33 inches
Hands: 10 inches
40-yard dash: 5.58 seconds (one of the slowest times in the combine)
Bench Press: 21 reps
Vertical Jump: 28.5 inches
Broad Jump: 8-1
3-cone drill: 7.81 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.76 seconds
Frederick is an absolute mauler in the run game. When he plays with a low pad level and good leverage, he can bury the guy in front of him. He's very thick and powerful, and plays through the snap by driving and churning his legs through his defender.
Frederick plays a lot stronger than his bench-press numbers would indicate, showing the ability to anchor and not get pushed around. He's a workman blocker who plays football like he's in a street fight.
With some of that power and strength comes a real lack of athleticism and quickness. At the snap, Frederick can be slow to the punch. He can be so slow that he gets beat inside by quicker defensive tackles, which could be a real problem in the NFL. He's a plugger who should stay in the middle and not be asked to move too much.
Frederick tends to get too upright in his stance, which can lead to him getting bulled back by stronger players. When he plays upright it causes overall problems with his game. He struggles when asked to pull and does not have the necessary agility to stifle linebackers at the second level.
To the long-standing reputation of Wisconsin offensive linemen, Frederick is slightly overrated. He's a tough kid and when you watch him play you fall in love with his power and his drive-blocking ability. He absolutely dominated Stanford nose tackle David Parry in the Rose Bowl, driving him into the ground on numerous occasions or stoning him in pass protection.
However, Frederick's real lack of athleticism could be a major hindrance for him in the NFL. Buyer beware: Frederick can play but he's very limited, both schematically and athletically.
Brett Solesky has worked in TV, newspapers and, for the last seven years, in radio. He also co-hosts the best Chicago Bears podcast on the Web, Bear Report Radio, which appears on BearReport.com and his blog MidwayIllustrated.com.