How former Badgers fared in the NFL in 2019
You can find Wisconsin Badgers players all over the NFL, each with varying degrees of success. Here’s a look at how each former Wisconsin player fared in the 2019 regular season.
After starting eight games in 2018, Allen was a reserve defensive tackle this season. Allen played in 10 games and recorded 10 tackles and a half-sack. He appeared in just 19% of Tampa Bay’s defensive snaps compared to 42.0% the year before and 43.4% in Philadelphia Super Bowl 2017 season. Allen renegotiated his contract back in March, which gave him guaranteed money albeit at $1 million less than his original contract and also his 2020 portion of the contract was deleted, making him a free agent this offseason.
The rookie undrafted free agent appeared in two games for the Lions – in the final two weeks of the season. He didn’t play on offense but did receive six special teams snaps.
Biegel was traded from the Saints to the Dolphins just before the start of the season. The deal moved Biegel from a part-timer and special team player to a starter. He played in 15 games for Miami with 10 starts, recording 59 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks with an interception. Biegel started nine straight games before missing the season finale.
Jack Cichy, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
An injury once again ended Cichy’s season prematurely. He suffered an elbow injury in Week 4 and eventually was placed on injured reserve. In his four games with Tampa Bay, Cichy mainly played on special teams – he had only one defensive snap – and had one tackle.
Like Cichy, Clement played in just four games before being shelved due to injury, in his case a bad shoulder. Clement only appeared in three offensive snaps, primarily being in on special teams (58 snaps). He returned three kicks for 73 yards (24.3 average) and had one punt return for no gain but also fumbled twice.
A fifth-round pick by New York, Connelly was starting in Week 2. Unfortunately, in Week 4 he suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season. Connelly had 20 tackles, a sack, two TFL, two passes defensed and two interceptions in his brief rookie season.
Michael Deiter, OL, Miami Dolphins
The third-round draft choice played in all 16 games for the Dolphins, starting all but one (Week 15 at the Jets). Playing left guard Deiter appeared in 92.6% of Miami’s offensive snaps. It wasn’t the easiest rookie season for Detier. According to STATS, he allowed 7.5 sacks and was called for three holding penalties.
The fifth-round pick didn’t play on offense in the Rams’ first six games and had limited time on special teams. But injuries forced Edwards, a tackle at Wisconsin, into the starting lineup – at left guard. He started Los Angeles’ final 10 games, appearing in every offensive snap over that span. He allowed just one sack on the season but committed seven penalties, including five for holding.
T.J. Edwards, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
An undrafted free agent, Edwards made the opening roster but didn’t appear on defense until Week 5, when he got two snaps. He appeared in all 16 games for the Eagles and made four starts, although he only once played more than one-third of the defensive snaps (36% in Week 9 vs. Chicago). He has, though, carved out a role on special teams, where he had 333 snaps during the regular season (73.8%). Edwards had 30 tackles for Philadelphia, which won the NFC East.
Mainly a fourth receiver and return man in his first three seasons with the Bengals, Erickson had a bit of a breakout in 2019. He was targeted 78 times, third-highest on the team, and had 43 catches (tied for second) for 529 yards (third). However, he had no touchdowns. While his offense had an uptick his return game went down. Erickson averaged just 6.3 yards on 25 punt returns, the average a career low. He wasn’t used as often on kick returns, likely due to his role on offense, and had just four returns for a 19.8-yard average.
Returning after missing the entire 2018 season after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, Frederick once again started in all 16 games for the Cowboys and missed only a handful of snaps. For his fourth straight year (not including ’18), he allowed no sacks. Frederick also had a career-low one penalty infraction. He was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, although as a reserve.
Drafted in the fifth round by Denver in 2018, Fumagall’s rookie season was spent on IR after undergoing offseason surgery for a sports hernia. In 2019, he started Week 1. Fumagalli played in 11 games overall for the Broncos and made five starts. He appeared in over 30% of the offensive snaps just twice, with a high of 37% against Minnesota in Denver’s 11th game. He got his first (and to date only) NFL touchdown in that game against the Vikings, finishing with six receptions on nine targets for 38 yards on the season.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
After sitting out the Chargers’ first four games looking for a new contract, Gordon returned without a new deal. He’d rush for 612 yards on 162 carries, the 3.8 average his lowest since his rookie season, with eight touchdowns and also catch 42 passes for 296 yards and a score. However, Gordon also fumbled four times after having four combined over the last three seasons. Gordon will be a free agent this offseason.
Ryan Groy, OL, Los Angeles Chargers
Groy was signed in early October by the Chargers and appeared in nine games, although he saw limited action on the field. He was in on 36 offensive snaps and 37 on special teams.
Rob Havenstein, OL, Los Angeles Rams
Ever since Havenstein entered the NFL in 2015 he’s been a Rams’ starter. He started the first nine games in 2019 before suffering a meniscus injury which ended up sidelining him for the rest of the year. In his nine games, Havenstein committed a career-high nine penalties, which included four false starts and three holdings, and allowed three sacks.
The undrafted free agent beat out veteran Kevin Smith to earn the lone fullback spot on the Raiders and played in all 16 games with four starts. He’d finish with 10 carries for 17 yards and six receptions (on six targets) for 44 yards and a touchdown. And countless great blocks (probably).
Leon Jacobs, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacobs saw his playing time increase in his second year in the league. He played in 14 games with seven starts, appearing in 35.2% of Jacksonville’s defensive snaps and 68.4% of the special teams snaps (compared to 18.9% and 47.8% in 12 games last year). Jacobs finished with 42 tackles, two sacks, three TFL and a pass defensed.
On his third team in three years (fourth if you include the team that drafted him, New Orleans, but where he was cut before the season), Jamerson appeared in five games recording three tackles before landing on IR with a foot injury. He played mainly on special teams, receiving only two defensive snaps in Week 4.
Lance Kendricks, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Signed a couple of weeks into the season, Kendricks played in 12 games for the Chargers with one start. He had only three receptions on seven targets for 50 yards – although all three catches resulted in a first down. For the first time since his rookie season Kendricks didn’t find the end zone. While he played in 68 offensive snaps in his first three games with Los Angeles, he had only 19 in his remaining nine games, including none in the last two.
Nick Nelson, CB, Oakland Raiders
A fourth-round draft pick in 2018, Nelson was cut and re-signed to Oakland’s practice squad. He was signed to the active roster late in the season and appeared in two games before heading to IR. He played one defensive snap and 22 special teams snaps in those two games.
Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s harder to find a better story than Ogunbowale, who finally found himself a role with Tampa Bay after kicking around on various practice squads and playing briefly with Washington (2017) and the Bucs (2018) without touching the ball. But in 2019, he was Tampa’s third running back and played in all 16 games, garnering 11 carries for 17 yards and two touchdowns and 35 receptions (on 46 targets) for 286 yards. Ogunbowale appeared in 361 offensive snaps (31.7%) an 316 on special teams (65.0%).
Ryan Ramczyk, OL, New Orleans Saints
A starter for the third straight season, Ramczyk played all 16 games at right tackle for the Saints. He played in every snap in 15 games and 91% in the lone contest in which he didn’t have 100% participation. Ramczyk allowed just once sack, a career low, and had four penalties for New Orleans, which claimed the NFC South title. Ramczyk was named Associated Press All-Pro for the first time.
It was another stellar season for Cleveland’s middle linebacker. Starting all 16 games, Schobert had 133 tackles and two sacks and set career highs in TFL (7), interceptions (4) and passes defensed (9). Schobert played in 99.3% of the Browns’ defensive snaps, playing in every snap in all games but one. Schobert will be a free agent this offseason.
Andrew Van Ginkel, LB, Miami Dolphins
Van Ginkel, a fifth-round draft choice, had his rookie year get off to a late start as he landed on IR before the season. However, he was activated and played in six games with one start. He had 16 tackles and four TFL, racking up six of those tackles and two TFL in Miami’s big Week 17 win at New England. In Miami’s final two games, Van Ginkel played in 65 (72%) and 60 (98%) of the team’s defensive snaps.
Rick Wagner, OL, Detroit Lions
In his third year as Detroit’s starting left tackle, Wagner played and started 12 games – he missed the last three due to a knee injury and also sat out Week 11 after playing only one-third of the snaps the previous game. His 89.3% of offensive snaps was the second-lowest of his career, not counting his rookie season in 2013 when he was a backup. Wagner allowed three sacks – his fewest since 2016 with the Ravens – and committed three penalties.
Derek Watt, FB, Los Angeles Chargers
Watt played in all 16 games for the fourth straight year and had two starts. Watt finally got his first career touchdown, a 1-yard run against Jacksonville in Week 14. Watt only had seven carries, although that represented a single-season career high, gaining 10 yards, He also had three receptions for 32 yards. Watt also continued to make a big impact on special teams (anyone who follows his brothers on Twitter certainly know this), recording 16 tackles (13 solo). Watt played in a career-low 122 offensive snaps (11.5%) but had 321 (78.1%) special teams snaps. Watt will be a free agent this offseason.
For the third time in four seasons Watt couldn’t get through a season unscathed. He tore a pectoral muscle in Houston’s eighth game and was placed on injured reserve – although he was activated in time for the Texans’ wild-card playoff game. In his eight games, Watt had 24 tackles, 21 QB hits, four sacks, four TFL, three passes defensed and a forced fumble. Before his injury, Watt was playing between 89-98% of the snaps on defense.
The youngest Watt brother continues to make a name for himself. Starting all 16 games once again for Pittsburgh, Watt had 55 tackles while setting career highs with 14.5 sacks, 14 TFL, 36 QB hits and two interceptions. He also had eight forced fumbles, also a personal best, which led the NFL, and four fumble recoveries. To no surprise, Watt was named to his second Pro Bowl and for the first time was tabbed an AP All-Pro.
James White, RB, New England Patriots
White continues to have a role with New England as a pass-catching running back. His stats were down a bit from 2018, when he set career highs in both rushing and receiving yards. Unlike last year, White once again had more catches than carries. He finished the regular season with 67 rushes for 263 yards and a touchdown and 72 receptions for 645 yards and five TDs. White played in 45.6% of the offensive snaps for New England, which once again won the AFC East, which is the second-highest percentage of his career.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
For the eighth straight season Wilson started all 16 games for Seattle. And for the seventh time, he helped lead them to double-digit wins (the exception: 9-7 in 2017). Wilson topped 4,000 yards passing for the third time in his career, with 4,110. He had 31 touchdowns, the fourth time he’s reached 30+. Wilson also threw a career-low five interceptions (in 516 attempts, a 1.0 INT%). He also continues to run when needed – compiling 342 yards and three TDs on 75 carries (he was also sacked an NFL-high 48 times). Wilson was named to his sixth Pro Bowl and, if Seattle, which made it into the playoffs as a wild card, doesn’t make the Super Bowl, he’ll be the NFC’s starting QB. Wilson was also named second-team AP All-Pro.
Kevin Zeitler, OG, New York Giants
Drafted by Cincinnati in 2012 and signed by Cleveland as a free agent in 2017, Zeitler found himself on his third NFL team thanks to a trade. He started 15 games for his new team, the Giants. Zeitler was carted off the field in Week 14 due to an ankle injury but returned two weeks later and played every snap in New York’s final two games. Zeitler allowed 1.5 sacks and committed just one penalty (a career low), a holding.
In addition to the above, some former Badgers players finished the season on the practice squad or were on injured reserve the entire year. A quick rundown:
D’Cota Dixon, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After getting a tryout with the Bucs, Dixon was signed to the 90-man roster and appeared to be on his way to perhaps making the 53-man roster but was placed on injured reserve before cutdowns, costing him his season.
Tyler Marz, OL, Carolina Panthers: After having been on the active rosters of the Chargers and Titans the past two seasons, appearing in six games with Tennessee in 2018, Marz went unsigned until Week 16 when he was added to Carolina’s practice squad. He signed a futures contract with the Panthers after the season.
Olive Sagapolu, DT, Detroit Lions: Appeared in training camp with Green Bay before being cut prior to the season opener. Was signed by the Lions to their practice squad in late December and given a futures contract upon season’s end.
Sojourn Shelton, CB, Arizona Cardinals: A late addition to Philadelphia’s training camp roster but part of final cuts. Was signed to Arizona’s practice squad in mid-November and signed a futures contract with Arizona.
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