Eight players from last year's Wisconsin Badgers team are on NFL rosters. Two were drafted -- Joe Schobert in the fourth round by Cleveland and Derek Watt in the sixth round by San Diego -- and six were signed as free agents. With two preseason games completed, we take a look at what these eight players have done and their chances of sticking on the roster once we're past the final cuts.
Michael Caputo, Los Angeles Rams
Caputo (far left) signed with New Orleans right after the draft but was cut shortly thereafter. He was signed by Los Angeles on Aug. 15 after rookie safety Brian Randolph was injured and lost for the season. He played against Kansas City, recording two tackles (one solo) in 17 defensive snaps (30 percent). He also saw one special teams snap. CHANCES: A late addition to the roster, Caputo's likelihood of sticking around seem low. Perhaps he can make the practice squad or impress on film to be signed elsewhere. After not even making it out of rookie minicamp with the Saints and then being unemployed for months, for Caputo to even have a shot is an indication of his perseverance.
Jeff Lewis/Los Angeles Rams
Alex Erickson, Cincinnati Bengals
The former walk-on wide receiver's best chance to make the Bengals is as a punt returner. By all accounts, Cincinnati's final wide receiver spot is expected to be between Erickson and incumbent Brandon Tate with the battle to be determined by special teams play. Erickson has two punt returns this preseason: An 80-yard touchdown against Minnesota and a 30-yarder at Detroit. He could get an early look as a returner in Cincinnati's third preseason game to see what he can do against 1s. As a receiver, Erickson played 20 offensive snaps vs. the Vikings (29 percent) and 24 vs. the Lions (38 percent). He has been targeted six times with three receptions for 12 yards with a touchdown (a 3-yarder against Minnesota). He also has one rush for three yards. CHANCES: Beating out the veteran Tate won't be easy, but Erickson has at least a 50-50 chance here of making the roster. If not, expect him to be on the practice squad or signed to an active roster by another NFL team as Erickson has impressed not only with his return ability, but his hands and route running.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY SportsMike Carter
Darius Hillary, Cincinnati Bengals
Hillary had a tough road to making Cincinnati's roster and he hasn't really stood out for the Bengals. He played 30 defensive snaps (53 percent) against Minnesota, along with seven snaps on special teams (30 percent), recording two tackles. The next week against Detroit, he was down to 26 defensive snaps (36 percent) and six on special teams (22 percent), again with two tackles. On the bright side, it looks like he's allowed just three receptions for 18 yards. CHANCES: Cornerback is a deep position for the Bengals and it would be a shock if Hillary made the final roster. His best shot is hoping for a spot on the practice squad. Perhaps he's shown enough to earn that.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY SportsMike Carter
Tyler Marz, Tennessee Titans
At one time Marz was thought to be a mid-round draft choice, but a poor combine saw him go undrafted. Nevertheless, Marz has reportedly looked like the best of Tennessee's backup offensive linemen and after Josue Matias was lost for the season, he was moved to No. 2 left tackle. Tennessee did trade for tackle Dennis Kelly, but the Titans have been working him on the right side for now. After playing in 23 snaps (39 percent) against San Diego, Marz was in for 27 snaps (40 percent) vs. Carolina. CHANCES: At the very worst, it appears as though Marz has solidified himself as a practice squad candidate. It most likely depends on if Tennessee goes out and acquires another tackle or how comfortable they want a swing offensive lineman to be the backup left tackle. Either way, expect Marz to be earning some kind of NFL paycheck in 2016.
Tanner McEvoy, Seattle Seahawks
McEvoy started out in Seattle as a safety but then was moved to wide receiver. In Seattle's opening preseason game he played 21 offensive snaps (28 percent) and was targeted seven times with three receptions for 77 yards, including catching a 37-yard Hail Mary as time expired. The next week against Minnesota, McEvoy played 32 snaps (41 percent) on offense and 10 on special teams (38 percent). He was targeted only twice with one catch for eight yards, although he did draw a defensive pass interference on a 53-yard attempt. On the down side, he also committed two penalties. McEvoy has recently seen time at tight end thanks to injuries to Jimmy Graham and Nick Vannett. CHANCES: If the injuries to Graham (who might miss the season opener) and Vannett linger, it can only help the versatile McEvoy's chances. Seattle seems to like him and his most likely landing spot is on the practice squad, unless someone else out there wants to take a chance on him. McEvoy's athleticism, size and versatility certainly will make some NFL teams drool.
Joe Schobert, Cleveland Browns
Schobert has been playing as an outside linebacker, but this past week he has seen some time with the first unit in Cleveland's practices. In his first preseason game at Green Bay he had 43 defensive snaps (50 percent) and six on special teams (24 percent), recording four tackles, including a tackle for loss. The next week vs. Atlanta his playing time on defense was down to 26 snaps (31 percent) but up on special teams (11 snaps, 48 percent). He had a QB hurry and pass defensed in that game, but was the nearest defender on a 10-yard touchdown pass. CHANCES: The fourth-round pick will make the team. He'll likely see most of his playing time on special teams as he begins his NFL career.
Joel Stave, Minnesota Vikings
You can't say Stave hasn't had an opportunity with Minnesota. First, Taylor Heinicke tore a tendon in his ankle, meaning Stave was quickly elevated to the No. 3 QB. Then, with both Teddy Bridgewater and Shaun Hill sidelined, Stave was working with the first team in practice. The question is, can he take advantage? In Stave's first game at Cincinnati he received just over half the offensive snaps and was 8 of 13 for 76 yards and an interception (45.7 QB rating). The next week at Seattle, he received 50 percent of the snaps and was just 5 of 14 for 67 yds (57.7 QB rating). So to answer that previous question, it seems like a resounding no. In fact, Minnesota recently signed third-year QB Brad Sorensen to help out in practice -- but he could perhaps push Stave as well. CHANCES: When Heinicke went down, Stave wasn't a lock to make the Vikings, but his chances certainly skyrocketed. However, he as noted, he hasn't taken advantage of his situation. Will Minnesota go with three QBs? Would they bring in someone else at this late date? You figure they need at least a third QB on the practice squad, and perhaps this is Stave's best bet -- at least until Heinicke returns.
APElaine Thompson/Associated Press
Austin Traylor, Dallas Cowboys
Traylor earned a spot with Dallas in training camp after being brought in on a tryout basis. The Cowboys see Traylor more as a blocking tight end and he has made a good impression in that regard. He also has been seeing a lot of time on special teams -- in fact, Traylor's 14 snaps (47 percent) in preseason Week 2 against Miami was among the most on the team. He had 12 snaps on special teams (43 percent) in Dallas' opening game at Los Angeles. On offense, he played 24 snaps (42 percent) against the Rams and 21 (32 percent) vs. the Dolphins. He has been targeted twice -- both in L.A. -- with one catch for eight yards. CHANCES: While Dallas might like Traylor, there's not a lot of room on their roster. James Hanna might need to start the year on the PUP list, but the Cowboys also have starter Jason Witten along with Gavin Escobar and Geoff Swaim. But Traylor likely has earned himself a spot on the practice squad. Not bad for a guy who was in minicamp on a tryout basis.
Derek Watt, San Diego Chargers
Watt is currently listed as the starting fullback on San Diego's depth chart -- along with his former Wisconsin Badgers teammate running back Melvin Gordon. But this does not mean Watt's spot on the roster is solidified. In San Diego's first game, Watt had just 11 offensive snaps (16 percent) and seven on special teams (26 percent). The next week, he started vs. Arizona but split time with Chris Swain, an undrafted free agent from Navy, each getting seven offensive snaps (11 percent). Watt's time on special teams also decreased to three snaps (12 percent). In addition, Pro Football Focus noted Swain was the best blocking fullback in Week 2 of the preseason. Watt has not carried the ball and has been targeted once, with no catches. CHANCES: Just because Watt was drafted does not mean he is a lock to make the final 53. He is in a battle with Swain for sure. Would the Chargers keep two fullbacks? It seems doubtful, although they did lose tight end Jeff Cumberland for the season, so perhaps could keep an extra FB instead. Keeping a fullback on a valued practice squad spot seems doubtful, so it could be all or nothing here for Watt. San Diego has little invested in a late-round pick like Watt, so these final two preseason games will be key.