By: Brian Mosgaller
While only two Wisconsin Badgers were taken in the 2010 NFL Draft, up to four are serious candidates for professional football rosters. Which means that, weary as we may be in the wake of the interminable NFL draft process, it is time to assess the varying fits for the graduating greats of Camp Randall.
Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans (Round 4, Pick 118)
To be honest, this pick is a bit perplexing – for obvious reasons. As I’ve said before, Graham is an Owen Daniels clone. Both former Wisconsin tight ends are listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds. Both lack ideal athleticism, but counteract it with solid blocking technique, sound route running and sure hands. And now, thanks to this pick, both are Houston Texans.
Now, I guess having two reliable, versatile tight ends isn’t something which should be discouraged. The Texan franchise has yielded a high return on their selection of Daniels, so why not double the pleasure?
And I’m sure Matt Schaub won’t complain. But in what was hailed as an extraordinarily deep draft, weren’t there other areas of greater concern to the young Texas outfit? Especially considering that the Houston roster already features Joel Dreesen, an unexceptional, but serviceable fifth-year tight end, as well as, James Casey, a precocious talent whom the Texans spent a fifth-round pick on last year.
At this point, I’ll give the team the benefit of the doubt. I’d hope they have a plan in place to rid themselves of one of their other TE’s, in order to insure themselves against another Daniels injury with a Daniels look-alike.
As always, we must wait and see.
O’Brien Schofield, DE/OLB, Arizona Cardinals (Round 4, Pick 130)
Contrary to Graham’s head-scratching suitor, the cacti and tumbleweeds are a great backdrop for Schofield.
First and foremost, the NFL’s 2009 runner-up run a 3-4 defensive scheme, which is practically a prerequisite for Schofield’s skill-set. Once he recovers from a devastating ACL tear which he suffered in the week prior to the Senior Bowl, Schofield should compete for an outside linebacker/rush end spot.
In addition, Schofield’s playmaking ability could get him on the field sooner than later, considering the team experienced a mass defensive exodus in the offseason. With the retirement of Bertrand Berry and the free agency departures of Karlos Dansby (to Miami) and Antrel Rolle (to the Giants), the Cardinals will need all the defensive dynamism they can find – an area that Schofield could contribute.
Chris Maragos, S, San Francisco 49ers (Undrafted)
Maragos has never been one for the preferred route. After starting his collegiate career at Western Michigan and then working his way from walk-on to senior captain at Wisconsin, Maragos will once again have to prove himself at the next level.
But despite his undrafted status, the future is bright for the Racine, Wis., native. According to the Racine Journal Times, Maragos heard from a handful of teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and the Niners, within an hour of the draft’s conclusion.
Even though he winds up on a team that spent a second-round pick on a safety (Taylor Mays, USC), Maragos work ethic will surely appeal to hard-nosed head coach Mike Singletary. Also, the opportunity to learn from hard-hitting veteran Michael Lewis can only help Maragos’ development.
While he may not crack the starting depth chart, Maragos could quite reasonably follow the trail blazed by Jim Leonhard, another undersized former-Badger safety who gritted his way to a secure NFL roster spot.
Jaevery McFadden, LB, Free agent (Undrafted)
Unlike his Badger peers, McFadden still has some work to do. According to WKOW-TV in Madison, McFadden has workout dates scheduled with the Minnesota Vikings (April 30-May 2) and the Washington Redskins (May 7-9).
Frankly, both of those teams have relatively solid linebacking corps, so McFadden is competing for special teams duty – but we knew that. The bottom line is, recent Badger linebacker products like DeAndre Levy (Detroit Lions) and Jonathan Casillas (New Orleans Saints) have proved productive on Sundays, and I sincerely hope McFadden catches on somewhere, earning a chance to demonstrate his nose for the ball, which Badger fans know so well.