Abbrederis first Badgers player drafted by Packers GM Thompson
GREEN BAY, Wis. — For the first time in his ten years as general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson drafted a Wisconsin Badgers player. That drought ended in the fifth round when wide receiver Jared Abbrederis heard his name called with the 176th overall pick.
The last time a Badgers player put on the green and gold at the NFL Draft was when offensive lineman Bill Ferrario was selected in the fourth round in 2001.
"It’s nice to come up here and say, ‘about time we finally drafted one," coach Mike McCarthy said. "There’s been a number (of Badgers players) over the years we felt we were going to draft. It’s great. I just want him to be treated like everybody else, not feel the pressure obviously in this state."
Not feeling pressure may be difficult for Abbrederis, who grew up just over an hour from Lambeau Field. He said he won’t "have too much pressure," but this is the outcome that Abbrederis wanted. He even stated during the Scouting Combine that he hoped the Packers would draft him.
"It’s crazy right now," Abbrederis said after the pick was made. "Realizing my dream to play in the NFL, and on the Packers, which was my team growing up. That’s who I rooted for. I’m excited. I can’t really explain it. Just a lot of emotions. I’m excited."
Abbrederis has even compared his game to Packers receivers — both current and former — such as Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson.
"I love the way (Driver) played the game," Abbrederis said at the Combine. "The fearlessness going over the middle, kind of his underdog story as well, and how he grew up and then being drafted later (in the seventh round) and just the career that he had. Good route-runner, good player.
"And then also Jordy Nelson, too. I love watching him, how he high-points the ball, saves room for the quarterback to throw and just takes pride in his route-running, as well."
Abbrederis’ underdog story stems from him beginning his college career as a walk-on. Four years later, Abbrederis had 78 receptions for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns.
"I obviously have the underdog mentality," Abbrederis said in February. "I think the biggest thing for me, I’m a goal-setter. So when I set a goal I do everything in my power to achieve that. Growing up, I’ve always been like that, and that just kind of carried on through my career as a walk-on, once I earned a scholarship, and then trying to achieve my goals here in the NFL."
Abbrederis surprisingly fell a bit in the draft, which was partly due to the tremendous depth at wide receiver in this year’s class. Abbrederis ended up being the 23rd receiver drafted overall, but he was also the second receiver selected by the Packers, first picking Davante Adams in the second round. Green Bay later added another wide receiver, Jeff Janis, in the seventh round.
"We saw it as a very deep class," Thompson said. "All three days (of the draft), we tried to go towards quality, and it’s definitely the way the board worked out. We stuck with the board and tried to do it the right way."
Abbrederis also has experience as a kick and punt returner, which is another area that the Packers needed help with.
"He’ll definitely have an opportunity (in the return game)," McCarthy said.
The last time Abbrederis was at Lambeau Field was as a sophomore in high school when he attended a game with his family. When he arrives in Green Bay this weekend — which won’t take him long considering he’s just a short car ride away, he’ll be at Lambeau Field in a much different capacity than he was seven years ago.
"I’m excited to get to work," Abbrederis said. "It’s been a long time of taking off of football. I’m excited to get back at it."
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