Where will former Wisconsin players land in this week's NFL draft?

By Sam Zastrow

The Badgers’ run to the Rose Bowl in the 2010 season showcased the talents of one of the most gifted Wisconsin teams in recent memory. Individual standouts J.J. Watt, Gabe Carimi, John Moffit and Lance Kendricks will all likely be taken in the first three rounds of this week’s NFL draft. Let’s take a look at where each of these players could end up.

Defensive end J.J. Watt
Watt was the biggest (figuratively and literally) reason Wisconsin’s defense was as good as they were last season, and he figures to be the first Badger taken this week. Watt will probably end up being drafted by a team that runs a 3-4 or hybrid defense and can make use of his abilities to both stop the run and rush the passer. In my opinion, Watt will end up as one of the top 10 players in this year’s draft, but most experts have him going in the teens or low twenties. My best guess is that the Dallas Cowboys, who are rumored to be enamored with Watt, will take him at No. 9. Here are some expert opinions on where Watt will land:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 11 to the Houston Texans
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 10 to the Washington Redskins
  • NFL Network’s Mike Mayock: No. 18 to the San Diego Chargers
  • Yahoo Sports’ Doug Farrar: No. 19 to the New York Giants
  • NFLDraftScout.com’s Chad Reuter: No. 16 to the Jacksonville Jaguars
  • RotoWorld.com’s Evan Silva: No. 18 to the San Diego Chargers
  • Sports Illustrated’s Peter King: No. 27 to the Atlanta Falcons

Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi
Carimi anchored the Wisconsin offensive line that plowed the way for three 900-yard rushers in 2010. His ability to play on the right or left side (or even inside at guard, some say) should make him one of the first offensive linemen taken in a fairly weak pool. I believe he’ll go to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 22. Here’s where others think Carimi will land:

  • Kiper: No. 22 to the Indianapolis Colts
  • McShay: No. 19 to the New York Giants
  • Mayock: No. 23 to the Philadelphia Eagles
  • Farrar: No. 22 to the Indianapolis Colts
  • Reuter: No. 22 to the Indianapolis Colts
  • Silva: No. 21 to the Kansas City Chiefs
  • King: No. 21 to the Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive guard John Moffit
Moffit was widely regarded as one of the most ferocious linemen in the country last season. It’s a bit more difficult to project where he’ll go than it is for the first-rounders. Most experts believe he’ll be drafted in the third or fourth round. My hunch is that one organization will fall in love with Moffit’s nastiness and demeanor and take him in the late second or early third round. Here are what others think about Moffit’s draft stock:

Tight end Lance Kendricks
Kendricks played poorly during the senior bowl week, but he’s seen his stock rise in recent weeks as teams became more aware of his athleticism and blocking ability. Like Moffit, he’ll probably end up being taken in the third round, but a team could fall in love with him and reach for him towards the end of the second round. Others had this to say about Kendricks:

  • Mayock, to Woelfel, on Kendricks: “There’s a little bit of positive buzz about him right now.” “I have a really solid second-round grade on him.”
  • Adam Tupitza at Bucky’s 5th Quarter provides a useful aggregation of Kendricks draft buzz here.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons seem like likely landing spots for Kendricks. Several draft pundits have said Tampa Bay is “in love” with Kendricks’ ability and potential.
  • Kiper has Kendricks going No. 68 to the Buffalo Bills.

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