Not Drafting In-State Talent has Haunted Green Bay

In the history of the NFL draft, which began in 1937, a total of 298 players from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been drafted into the NFL, averaging out to 3.5 players drafted per year. While there have been seasons that have included zero Badgers drafted (1938, 1967, 1978), there are also seasons where it seems like Bucky is brought up every other pick (1985 saw 11 Badgers selected).

For the Green Bay Packers, they have infrequently pulled from the in-state talent pool, only selecting 40 Badgers since 1937. While 40 may seem like a lot before the rounds of the draft were drastically shortened, there was upwards of 30 rounds every draft, so they have plenty of chances to keep Bucky in the state.

There has not been a Badgers selected by Green Bay since the 2017 draft, where linebacker Vince Biegel was taken with the 108th overall selection, which was the first overall selection in the fourth. While never amounting to be anything after dealing with knee injuries throughout camp, this was the last drafted Badger by this team, leaving a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of the Cheesehead front office.

Most notably, this team brought in Mark Tauscher in the 2000 draft in the 7th round, 224th overall. The offensive lineman, who now commentates Wisconsin football games and does sports radio coverage in the state, was one of the biggest late-round success stories for Green Bay in their history, which is saying a lot.

Fans always like to clamor for teams to draft in-state prospects because it is that feel-good move that teams can make to keep their fans entertained and see how a hometown guy pans out on the big stage. But taking the guy who is already familiar with our cheese selection and how warm 40 degrees actually it is not always a good fit for the team.

The likes of Jared Abbrederis (WR, 2014), Bill Ferrario (G, 2001) and Gary Ellerson (RB, 1985), just to name a few, never truly panned out for the team and became late-round draft selections that were just that: lottery tickets.

While selecting in-state players has not always worked out, there have been some in-state players that were passed on by this team that would have become instant starters and difference makers that this team desperately needed. Most recently in the minds of Packers fans is passing on linebacker T.J. Watt in the 2017 draft, who Green Bay could have gotten but decided to trade back with the Cleveland Browns and select Kevin King to begin the second round.

Injuries have slowed any impact that King has had on this team so far, but he is in a good grouping of young corners and has the tools and skillset to make a difference in 2019, which is shaping up to be an important year for his longevity on this roster.

Meanwhile, all that Watt has done is rack up a Pro Bowl appearance in 2018 for the Pittsburgh Steelers as their starting right outside linebacker for Mike Tomlin, providing much more of an impact to his team than King has so far.

While it is totally possible that King could become the better player when both players playing careers are over, he is going to have to put up big-time numbers soon to even sniff at the impact that Watt has had so far.

Another player that the team may have missed on was Ryan Ramczyk, who was drafted two spots after Watt and one spot before King in 2017. Now the New Orleans Saints stalwart right tackle, Ramczyk is an anchor on their offensive line for years to come, showcasing the durability of Badger offensive linemen and why they are known as “Offensive Linemen University.”

While it is tough to manage the intricacies of what the fans want versus what is best for the team, the Packers have had their fair share of misses when it comes to dealing with Wisconsin Badger draft picks. Whether having selected players who did not turn out or passing on players that have gone on to have big-time impacts elsewhere, Brian Gutekunst should put more of a focus on their Division I football team when it comes time for prospect scouting yet again.

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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23

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7 thoughts on “Not Drafting In-State Talent has Haunted Green Bay

  1. TOTALLY AGREE! Packers are horrible at drafting badgers! instead of drafting Travis Fredrick when we needed a Center we drafted Datone JONes! when theres a WR on the badgers they draft Jared who was never healthy at Wisconsin. you missed the Fact that Vince is starting for the SAints right now! and they just gave him a contract extension. also we dont sign badgers either three years ago we needed line help badly and instead of signing Kevin Zeitler who has given up 2! sacks in 3 years and rated as a top guard we didn’t even call him or Ricky Wagner gave up 4 sacks in 3 years! its pathetic Badgers are doing fantastic in the NFL and the Packers have non of them! WE draft guys like Gary who had less sack than watt in his career than Watt did in 1 year! THis year MIchael Deiter was a perfect pick for the Packers he could have played RT/RG/C/LG and he did play LT in college some but no we drafted a guy whos first worlds were i better buy more coats! These cali and florida boys get hurt in the cold and can’t handle it! SMH

    1. Eh, I don’t know… missing out on Watt and taking King really sucked, and missing Ramcyzk, but those are the only guys I care much about missing on. Some of our best players are from Cali and Florida: Aaron Rodgers, Kenny Clark, Davante Adams, Blake Martinez. So I don’t think that has anything to do with it.

  2. I’ve never really understood not taking a few O-Linemen who were available when the Packers drafted but other than that and NOT drafting Watt it doesn’t bother me.

  3. I guess I don’t get the premise here. You draft what you draft. I don’t think they purposefully do or don’t draft any specific college, or avoid Badgers. I think they draft per need, and or trade out to pick up more picks. The only one that even remotely smacks as a mistake was not taking Watt, and it’s not like we didn’t need help there either! It’s also not like they said, na, he’s a badger, don’t draft him! But we were also in a bad way at DB, and trader Ted did his thing (much to my dislike), dumped the Pick, and took King, who hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Furthermore, Kings “make up” for a lack of a better term, is that his shoulders dislocate. He had one surgically repaired, then the other has now started. King will basically bust in the NFL, players that can’t stay available don’t have significant careers, in the sense that eventually they get dumped, and are out the NFL a short time later. Watt would have been the correct selection, but again, Thompson in his final 2-3 years was horrible. He was pretty bad in or with his 1st round selections. Had a few, but had more misses. It’s not a Badger thing, but it’s more of a hindsight, man we missed on that guy, and if anything, more bad GM work than anything, Bad franchise player evaluation, and bad GM work in general.

  4. The passing on Watt for a pre-injured King who cant stay on the field was the icing on the cake for the Packers jumbling of Arods career.

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