Scouting the Big 10: Wisconsin

Potentially no team in the Big 10 presently has as many NFL prospects on their roster as does the Wisconsin Badgers. They are stacked with lineman from both sides of the ball and also possess several solid skill players. If the Badgers get consistent play from a new quarterback this season they could go along way. Anyway you cut it Wisconsin will have a big impact in next April's draft.

While running back Anthony Davis will garner most of the headlines it all begins upfront for the Badgers with quality lineman who will be early draft picks in 2005.  Jonathan Clinkscale was highly rated by us after his sophomore season as he is a big, dominant blocker that opens big holes for his running backs and offers a solid wall of protection for the passer.  Clinkscale blocks with leverage, balance and is explosive at the point of attack.  He is a much better athlete than one would expect yet at the same time plays a smart brand of football.  A good showing in the post season will solidify his ranking as a top 40 pick next April.    Fellow guard Dan Buenning is not the athlete his teammate is but equally effective blocking for the run.  Buenning is powerful at the point yet a solid position blocker that walls defenders from the action then seals the running lanes for ball carriers.  More of a small area lineman, as of now Buenning is solid late round consideration.  Senior tackle Morgan Davis could well be one of the most underrated lineman in the nation.  Protecting the left side, he is also strong at the point of attack and a competitive blocker who works to finish off opponents.  Davis lacks the top footwork and range in pass protection yet has the size and growth potential to be considered a strong side blocker at the next level.  Like his older brother, Donovan Raiola is an explosive blocker on the pivot that quickly gets off the ball and into defenders.  He is quick with his hands and displays solid footwork in space.  Raiola is also effective pulling across the line of scrimmage and blocking on the move.  A good athlete that moves with excellent coordination, Raiola must physically mature, add bulk and improve his playing strength.  Only a junior, he is highly rated now yet also offers a good amount of upside for the future.  Finally right tackle Mike Lorenz is a competitive lineman who should get late round consideration.  As previously noted, running back Anthony Davis will be in a hunt for the Heisman Trophy this year if he completes the season healthy.  Davis is a player that will garner much debate and discussion as we move closer to the draft.  A speedy running back with great quickness, Davis possesses outstanding vision and instinct when the ball is in his hands.  An elusive runner, he sets up defenders then makes them miss and can run to daylight in the open field.  While his football skills project well to the next level, his lack of size, stature and durability are big question marks.  In many ways he reminds us of a lesser version of Amos Zereoue and accordingly will be a late pick during the next April's first day.  Senior receiver Darrin Charles offers outstanding size and the ability to make big plays.  If Charles can pull it together as a senior and prove himself to be the "go to receiver" he could make a big move up draft boards.  At one time we had high hopes for another wide out, Jonathan Orr.  After a solid campaign as a redshirt freshman when he flashed skill,  Orr suffered from the sophomore blues and took a step back last season.  He still offers good potential for the next level.  Finally Brandon Williams has been a reliable target for the Badgers and is a wide out to keep an eye on.

The Badgers may not have the same amount of quantity on defense but their top pro prospect resides on the side of the ball.  Anttaj Hawthorne is a big, explosive tackle who beats opponents off the snap of the ball with a quick first step  then overpowers them, bulrushing blockers off the line of scrimmage.  Hawthorne effectively uses his hands and employs solid technique to defeat blocks then quickly alters his angle of attack and displays a burst of speed pursuing the action laterally.  A clutch defender who comes up with the big play during the games critical moments, Hawthorne must give consistent effort to reach his maximum and show he is willing to play hard to be an early pick in next April's draft.  Not getting nearly the same exposure as Hawthorne, the Badgers other defensive tackle is a solid pro-prospect in his own right.    Jason Jefferson is a good athlete that quickly gets off the snap of the ball, plays with leverage and has a burst of closing speed bearing down on the ball carrier.  He also effectively uses hand technique to keep defenders away and plays with a high motor for 60 minutes.  Jefferson does not have the dominant power and will be handled at the point by a single blocker but does offer an upside and could move into the draft's first day  with a solid senior campaign in 'o4.  Wisconsin has a deep group of outside speed rushers starting with Erasmus James, who returns after sitting out the 2003 season.  A competitive lineman fast off the edge, James showed outstanding pass rush skills before being sidelined last year.  Likewise Jonathan Welsh also has outstanding playing speed and can pursue the action from the backside besides rushing the passer.  Welch does not have the size to remain in a three point stance at the next level yet does possess the necessary speed and athleticism to be considered at outside linebacker.  Lastly Darius Jones is a player that flashes skill at the defense end position and could be a hidden gem in next April's draft.  In the defensive secondary Jim Leonhard is an opportunistic ballhawk that may not be as good as this stats would lead one to believe.  Leonard is a solid college free safety but lacks the size to stay at that position in the NFL and has only marginal man-two-man cover skills for consideration at cornerback.  Scott Starks flashes cover skills from his cornerback position but has had an up-and-down career at Wisconsin after looking like a promising prospect early on.

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