Like many in the cheese head state, when it comes to college football, I’m a Wisconsin Badgers fan all the way. Naturally, every top Badgers player when they head into the NFL Draft, I hope somehow, they end up being drafted by the Green Bay Packers. This has only happened five times in the last 25 years, and only once was that player successful. This year there are two players that seem to be on the Packers radar that wore the cardinal-red W. If they are drafted, could the Packers Badger curse be broken?
The three Badgers drafted in the last 10 years by the Packers unfortunately seemed like they just couldn’t get anything going. Not one appeared in all 16 games in a season for the Packers.
Jared Abbrederis was a go-to receiver in a Badgers uniform. He amassed 3,140 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns in his four Badger seasons. He seemed to have some of the best hands and was also a great kick returner. When he was drafted to the Packers in 2014, I recall jumping out of my seat in excitement. Unfortunately, after an ACL injury derailed his rookie season, Abbrederis never caught on. He was let go in 2016 only having 10 catches for 119 yards as a Packer. It’s worth noting he did catch a ball in the endzone in a regular season game, but it was called back for a penalty. In that same game vs the Lions he left with a rib injury, and he basically never resurrected his Packers career.
Vince Biegel was a high-motor linebacker that also had a lot of excitement brewing when he was drafted by the Packers in 2017. Unfortunately, he spent half his rookie season on the PUP list with a foot fracture. When he did play, in nine games, he had a combined 16 tackles. He was then waived by the Packers in September 2018.
Cole Van Lanen wasn’t a real exciting pick in 2021, but the Offensive Lineman was worth a look. Unfortunately spending his rookie season on the practice squad and only appearing in one game, Van Lanen was then traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022.
Before those three came Bill Ferrario in 2001 who only played one season with the Packers before being waived. But there was one Badgers lineman that in 2000 started a Packers Hall of Fame career.
In the seventh round of the 2000 draft, the Packers selected Mark Tauscher from the Badgers. Tausch went on to start 132 games for the Packers over an 11-year career.
Tausch was an anchor at Tackle for the Packers his entire career protecting two Franchise Quarterbacks in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Though he wasn’t bestowed many accolades, Tauscher was one of the best in the league at his position whenever he took a snap.
Unfortunately, after Tauscher, it seems like Badgers drafted by the Packers are cursed in the last 20 years.
So, who could break this curse?
Perhaps the favorite to land in a Packers uniform, is Defensive Lineman, Keeanu Benton. Benton was always a force on the Badgers defensive line. Totaling 36 tackles his senior year and 4.5 sacks, Benton could be a nice addition to the Packers Defensive Line rotation. Benton his a fairly forceful player that doesn’t give up easily. If knocked off a play at first, he has the motor to fight right back into it.
Benton does struggle a bit with double-teams, but he could be a great compliment to Kenny Clark or DeVonte Wyatt. These struggles can be overcome with time and coaching, and Benton could become a good defensive lineman for the Packers.
My bet would be that Keeanu Benton will be available in the middle of the second round. This is a perfect spot for him to be nabbed by the Packers and work towards a Hall of Fame career.
Benton was brought in for a pre-draft visit on Thursday. So, the Packers definitely have some interest.
Michael Johrendt a little over a week ago on this site, listed Herbig as a Draft Sleeper for the Packers. Rightfully so, Herbig is another high-motor Edge Rusher. He finished his senior year with 47 total tackles, 11 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. 26% of his tackles were for lost yardage.
Herbig is a bit under-sized, but if you’re a Badger fan, you know the Big Ten conference is full of big bruising offensive linemen. Size is likely not too big of an issue. Herbig is a very agile edge rusher who is very good at using his hands to get off of blocks. It is true that to overcome most NFL tackles Herbig may need to add a bit of muscle mass. But when he has that QB in sight, he has a knack for switching his rush to a new level in order to chase down that sack.
Rashan Gary is undoubtedly the Packers best Edge Rusher with Preston Smith and Kingsley Enagbare behind. Smith might be entering his final year in a Packers uniform. It’s true that you can never have enough Edge Rushers and Herbig could fit in nicely in the rotation and maybe even develop to work opposite Rashan Gary for years to come.
Lately I’ve noticed Nick Herbig dropping on draft boards. My assumption is that it’s due to his size. I’ve seen everything from mid-second round, to mid/late 3rd round. I think Herbig would be a nice third rounder for the Packers to hopefully help break the Packers Badger curse.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.