Former Wisconsin Badgers on 2020 NFL rosters
Former Wisconsin Badgers are littered all over NFL rosters. Currently, 32 former Badgers are on either an active roster, injured reserve or practice squad of an NFL team. From some of the best players in the game to those just looking for a shot, here’s a capsule summary of every ex-Wisconsin player in the league.
Beau Allen, DT, New England Patriots
A seventh-round pick of Philadelphia in 2014, Allen has carved out quite the career. Allen played four years in Philadelphia, winning a Super Bowl in 2017, before signing with Tampa Bay in 2018, where he went from a part-time starter to a backup. Allen signed with the Patriots in the offseason and figured to be a starter, however he missed the majority of training camp and was placed on injured reserve the day after rosters were announced. New rules in 2020 mean Allen has to miss only three games before he can be activated, but there’s no word on how long he might be out.
Zack Baun, LB, New Orleans Saints
After a big senior season in which he was named a first-team All-American after recording 19.5 tackle for loss and 12.5 sacks, Baun was selected in the third round by New Orleans, which traded up to grab him. An injury sidelined Baun near for part of training camp. He’s listed as the backup SAM linebacker on the Saints’ initial unofficial depth chart.
Beau Benzschawel, OG, Detroit Lions
Benzschawel went undrafted in 2019 but was signed by Detroit, where he spent the entire season. He didn’t play until the final two games when he totaled six snaps on special teams.
Vince Biegel, LB, Miami Dolphins
Dealt to Miami, his third team in three years, Biegel emerged as a starter in 2019, recording 57 tackles and 2.5 sacks with the Dolphins. Unfortunately, he tore his Achilles during training camp and was placed on injured reserve before the cutdown to 53, meaning he can’t be activated and is out for the season.
Quintez Cephus, WR, Detroit Lions
After missing the 2018 season after being arrested, he returned to Wisconsin following being found not guilty and proceeded to lead the Badgers in catches (59), receiving yards (901) and receiving touchdowns (7). Cephus decided to turn pro and was selected in the fifth round by Detroit in what was considered a deep receiver class. Good reports kept being filed on Cephus throughout training camp and he was one of six wideout kept by the Lions. Cephus is listed on the second team in Detroit’s three wide receiver set on the team’s initial depth chart.
Jack Cichy, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Injuries have continued to plague Cichy, who missed his senior season due to a torn ACL. He tore an ACL during his rookie year and ended up playing just six games, then in 2019 it was an elbow injury which sidelined him for all but four contests. Cichy is listed as the backup to Lavonte David at inside linebacker and undoubtedly will have a role on Tampa Bay’s special teams.
Corey Clement, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
After making his way as an undrafted free agent to Super Bowl hero in the 2017 season, it’s been a long way down for Clement. Injuries haven’t helped as he was ineffective in 11 games in 2018 and played in just four contests in 2019 before hitting injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Philadelphia didn’t even tender him a contract in the offseason, making him a free agent. But he was re-signed and was one of just three running backs to make the Eagles’ 53, so there looks to be a role for him in 2020. The climb back up perhaps begins.
Ryan Connelly, LB, Minnesota Vikings
A fifth-round draft pick in 2019, Connelly worked his way into a starting role with the Giants before tearing his ACL and being lost for the year. In four games, with three starts, he had 19 tackles, a sack, two passes defensed and two interceptions. Surprisingly, Connelly was cut by the Giants, with new head coach Joe Judge saying it had nothing to do with the linebacker’s healthy. The Vikings claimed him on waivers and Connelly opens the season as a second-string weakside linebacker.
Michael Deiter, OL, Miami Dolphins
A third-round pick in 2019, Deiter played in all 16 games as a rookie including 15 starts at left guard. He allowed 6.5 sacks and had three holding penalties. In 2020, Deiter is listed as Miami’s backup center, although he could also probably see time along the rest of the line as needed. The Dolphins are beginning the season with veteran Ereck Flowers, who has been a tackle the majority of his career, at left guard, and rookie Solomon Kindley at right guard.
D’Cota Dixon, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dixon impressed Tampa Bay during training camp and preseason last year after going undrafted, but he was placed on injured reserve before the season and missed all of 2019. The Buccaneers kept only four safeties on their 53-man roster and Dixon wasn’t one of them, getting cut. But the team re-signed him to its practice squad.
David Edwards, OG, Los Angeles Rams
A fifth-round pick in 2019, Edwards played in all 16 games as a rookie and, due to injuries, started the Rams’ final 10 games at guard. He allowed just one sack, according to STATS, but had seven penalties (five holding, two false starts). The former Wisconsin tackle is back at guard in 2020, listed as the backup for Austin Corbett on the right side.
T.J. Edwards, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
Edwards made Philadelphia’s 53-man roster last year after going undrafted. He mainly played special teams (374 snaps) with some brief time on defense (112 snaps; high of 36.4% in one game), even starting four games. He finished with 30 tackles. Edwards is expected to start at middle linebacker for the Eagles in 2020, although they often play a 4-2-5 and his playing time might a little more limited than the other LBs.
Alex Erickson, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Erickson was signed as an undrafted free agent by Cincinnati in 2016 and he’s never missed a game in the four proceeding seasons. Primarily a returned to start his career, Erickson had career highs 43 catches for 529 yards in 2019. His punt return average (6.3 yards on 25 returns) was a career low, however, and he only was used on four kick returns. Erickson is listed as a second-team receiver entering 2020 and still the team’s No. 1 punt returner.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos
Gordon held out last year looking for a new contract, didn’t get it, returned and rushed for just 3.8 yards per carry, his worst since his rookie season, in 11 games. Gordon did have eight rushing touchdowns, though, and caught 42 passes for 296 yards and a TD. His time with the Chargers clearly up, Gordon signed with Denver, where he’ll split time with Phillip Lindsay, who has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Broncos.
Ryan Groy, OL, Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers signed Groy last October after he was cut by New Orleans before the season. He ended up playing in nine games with 36 snaps on offense and 37 on special teams. Groy was cut by the Chargers but re-signed to their practice squad. An undrafted free agent in 2014, Groy has played in 64 career games, also appearing with Chicago and Buffalo.
Rob Havenstein, OT, Los Angeles Rams
Havenstein has been a Rams starter since being selected in the second round in the 2015 draft. In his first four seasons he had started 13, 15, 15 and 16 games, but due to injury only played in nine contests in 2019, allowing three sacks and committing eight penalties. He’s set to be Los Angeles’ right tackle again in 2020.
Alec Ingold, FB, Las Vegas Raiders
Ingold signed as an undrafted free agent last year then went out and won the fullback job for the Raiders. As a fullback he still only played in 208 snaps (20.4%), finishing with 17 yards on 10 carries and six receptions for 44 yards with a touchdown. He also saw 202 snaps on special teams. Ingold is lined up for the same role in 2020 – only now in Las Vegas instead of Oakland (at least half the time).
Leon Jacobs, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacobs is going into his third year in Jacksonville after being taken in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. He played in 14 games in 2019, starting seven, recording 42 tackles and two sacks. Jacobs as listed as the starting strongside linebacker for the Jaguars on their initial unofficial depth chart for 2020.
Natrell Jamerson, S, Carolina Panthers
A fifth-round pick in 2018 by New Orleans, Jamerson also has been in the Houston and Green Bay organizations. He was claimed on waivers by Carolina and played in five games, collecting two tackles, before landing on injured reserve. Jamerson didn’t make the Panthers’ initial 53-man roster but was signed to the practice squad.
Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
An undrafted free agent in 2017, Ogunbowale spent time on the practice squads of Houston and Tampa Bay before landing with Washington, where he eventually appeared in two games. In 2018, he was with the Bucs’ practice squad and was called up to the active roster for two games. Finally in 2019 he go his chance and played in all 16 games, catching 35 passes for 286 yards and rushing for 18 yards with two touchdowns. Ogunbowale also was a special teams ace and he was tabbed a captain of that unit … right before he was cut by the Buccaneers after they signed Leonard Fournette. Ogunbowale signed with Jacksonville days before the Jaguars’ first game.
Chris Orr, LB, Carolina Panthers
Despite a strong senior season, Orr went undrafted and signed with Carolina. The Panthers kept only five linebackers and Orr was not one of them. He was re-signed to practice squad, where there is only one other linebacker, Tyler Johnson, who was a seventh-round pick of the Rams.
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, New Orleans Saints
The former first-round pick has been a starter since entering the NFL in 2017. Last season he didn’t allow a sack despite playing and starting in all 16 games plus another in the playoffs. No surprise that he was named a first-team All-Pro for the first time. Ramzcyk is slated to start at right tackle again for the Saints in 2020.
Joe Schobert, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
After four years in Cleveland – and recording 100+ tackles in each of the last three – Schobert, a fourth-round pick in 2016, signed a five-year contract with $21.5 million in guaranteed money in the offseason with Jacksonville. Needless to say, Schobert will be starting (along side Jacobs) for the Jaguars. In his four year, Schobert has amassed 394 tackles, 20 passes defensed, 8.5 sacks and six interceptions.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
You probably know the statistics, but here they are anyway: At Wisconsin, Taylor rushed for 6,174 yards (6.7 average) with 50 touchdowns. He added pass-catching to his repertoire in 2019, with 26 receptions for 252 yards and 5 TDs. Leaving after his junior year, Taylor was selected in the second round by the Colts. He’s expected to share the load with Marlon Mack.
Andrew Van Ginkel, LB, Miami Dolphins
After two years at Wisconsin where he played 27 games (10 starts) and had 99 tackles, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions, Van Ginkel was drafted in the fifth round by Miami in 2019. He was placed on injured reserve to start the season and was activated Nov. 20. He played in six games, with one start, and had 11 tackles and a sack. Van Ginkel is listed as a second-team outside linebacker
Rick Wagner, OT, Green Bay Packers
Three years into a five-year contract he signed with Detroit in 2017, Wagner was released by the Lions this past offseason just before the start of free agency. Green Bay then signed the right tackle to a two-year contract on March 17. Wagner has played 102 games in the NFL, beginning his career with Baltimore, starting 87 games. He’s been a full-time starter since his second year in the NFL, having come off the bench just once (in 2016). Wagner is listed as the second-team right tackle behind Billy Turner on Green Bay’s initial unofficial depth chart.
Derek Watt, FB, Pittsburgh Steelers
After four years with the Chargers, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2016, Watt signed a three-year contract with Pittsburgh – joining his brother T.J. – this offseason. As with teams which use a fullback, Watt is the only one at that position on the roster. Watt, who excelled on special teams (16 tackles in 2019), has played all 16 games in each of his four seasons. He has 19 career rushes for 49 yards with a touchdown and 10 receptions for 152 yards.
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
After playing in all 16 games in his first five NFL seasons, Watt has done so just once (2018) in the last four. In 2019 he played in eight games before tearing a pectoral muscle and missing the second half of the season. He finished with 22 tackles, four sacks and three passes defensed. Watt has averaged 15 sacks when he plays in all 16 games (and that includes 5.5 as a rookie). Now 31 and in his 10th year, Watt made offseason news by marrying pro soccer player Kealia Ohai.
T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Watt, a first-round pick in 2017 (sorry, Packers fans), has turned into one of the best outside linebackers/rush ends in the NFL. Last season he had 52 tackles while setting career highs in sacks (14.5), passes defensed (8), forced fumbles (8), fumble recoveries (4) and interceptions (2). Watt was named an AP first-team All-Pro for the first time in 2019. In three seasons he has 34.5 sacks, 18 PD and 15 FF. He’ll once again team with Bud Dupree to give Pittsburgh a formidable outside linebacking duo.
James White, RB, New England Patriots
Entering his seventh season in the NFL, the 2014 fourth-round pick remains a threat to catch passes out of the backfield for the Patriots. For the sixth time in his career, White had more receptions than carries. In 2019, he had 72 catches for 645 yards with five touchdowns and 67 rushes for 263 yards and a TD. White figures to have the same role in a crowded New England backfield in 2020, although with a new quarterback in Cam Newton getting him the ball instead of Tom Brady.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson keeps doing Wilson things – playing and winning. Seattle’s franchise quarterback has never missed an NFL game in his eight seasons and has led the Seahawks to a winning record in each one – just once finishing with fewer than 10 wins (9-7 in 2017). Wilson was named to his sixth Pro Bowl last season after passing for 4,110 yards with a 66.1% completion percentage – both the second-highest totals of his career – with 31 touchdowns and a career-low five interceptions. Wilson continues to be mobile, which is a good thing since he led the NFL by getting sacked 48 times. He rushed 75 times in 2019 for 342 yards with three TDs. Not a bad career for a third-round pick who was supposedly too short to succeed in the NFL.
Kevin Zeitler, OG, New York Giants
Zeitler has played 119 games with 118 starts in his career (his lone non-start came in 2013). Traded by Cleveland to New York last year, Zeitler played in 15 games in his first year with the Giants. He missed one game due to an ankle injury, which snapped an 85-game consecutive start streak. Zeitler, who began his career in Cincinnati, will once again line up at right guard for the Giants in 2020.