The wait was longer than expected, but by the end of the 2014 NFL draft, five former Wisconsin Badgers had been selected by five different professional teams. Dezmen Southward, Chris Borland, James White, Jared Abbrederis, and Beau Allen were all called-up over the weekend. Five more alumni who went undrafted were offered contracts in free agency soon after the event, including quarterback Danny O'Brien, who will go to Atlanta along with Southward.
Tightends Brian Wozniak and Jacob Peterson, also undrafted, will join O'Brien and Southward at the Falcons spring camp.
Despite speculation that headline makers Borland or Abbrederis would be the first former Badger to be taken, Southward was the first to go, at 68 overall. The third-round selection is the lowest debut pick in decades for Wisconsin graduates, who have represented at least one opening-round choice every year since 1978. The safety was not disappointed with the unusual timing, however, already thanking the team in interviews on various Atlanta radio and television stations.
Borland, a candidate for an early-round selection this year, instead followed Southward nine picks later at 77 overall. The linebacker finished his storied collegiate career with 15 forced fumbles, the most in Wisconsin history and second most all-time in the FBS, as well as top-10 program numbers in four other categories.
The San Francisco 49ers will host Borland at their camp starting this month.
Running back White was the third Badger to be called this weekend. New England used their fourth-round pick to attain the 130 overall selection, the thirteenth running-back to be chosen at that point in the draft. White could usually be found playing a support role to a host of top-prospect backs including Montee Ball and John Clay, though he was especially keen at finding holes once in the redzone. White fumbled just twice on 754 carries over his four seasons in Wisconsin.
Perhaps White's most memorable rush came in 2010 against then number one ranked Ohio State. Up three points with just minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, White came out for a first-down run from the Buckeyes ten-yard line. A few quick side-steps and he was in the endzone, putting the final dagger in what remains one of the Badgers biggest upsets in history.
Rounding-out the later rounds of the 2014 draft was wide receiver Abbrederis and nose tackle Allen. The pair were selected by the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, at 176 and 224 overall. Abbrederis, a Wisconsin native, was expected to fetch hefty interest at the end of the 2013 season, though a disappointing showing at the combine lowered his prospects.
Badgers 2014 Draft Selections
- Dezmen Southward; Safety, Atlanta
- Chris Borland; Linebacker, San Francisco
- James White; Running-back, New England
- Jared Abbrederis; Wide receiver, Green Bay
- Beau Allen; Nose tackle, Philadelphia
Undrafted; Signed in Free Agency:
- Jacob Pederson; Tight end, Atlanta
- Brian Wozniak; Tight end, Atlanta
- Ethan Hemer, Tackle, Pittsburgh
- Ryan Groy; Linebacker, Chicago
- Danny O'Brien; Quarterback, Atlanta