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Smith: Wisconsin players with the best chance to hear their names called in NFL Draft

first_imgIn less than a week, more than 200 football players will hear their named called in Radio City Music Hall in New York City during the National Football League’s draft. While the draft is the beginning of the NFL dream for all of the players chosen, it is also a source of pride for universities to see their programs produce professional-level talent.In recent years the University of Wisconsin has produced some of the NFL’s brightest stars with two-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt and Super Bowl Champion quarterback Russell Wilson. Since 2009, according to National Football Post, Wisconsin has had 20 players drafted in the NFL which is good for 12th-most picks during that period of time. And, since 2009, former Badgers have accumulated a combined 160 starts in the NFL. Only four schools have more combined starts in that time.Wisconsin doesn’t have any sure-fire first round prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, but does boast a number of players that have the ability work their way into significant roles on an NFL roster.With the draft kicking off Thursday, here is a list of players that have the best shot of hearing their name called in New York:Chris Borland, ILBAll-American linebacker Chris Borland has the best chance of any Badger to get his name called in the first round of the draft Thursday. Borland wasn’t happy with his performance at the NFL combine, particularly his 4.83 time in the 40-yard dash, but improved on his numbers some at Wisconsin’s pro day. His size — 5-foot-11 and 248-pounds — is the biggest concern for NFL teams and will likely be the reason he falls to the second round should teams pass on him with their first picks. ESPN’s draft tracker has Chris Borland rated as the second-best inside linebacker behind C.J. Mosley from Alabama. In their latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have Borland going 34th overall to the Washington Redskins. It is looking more likely that Borland will fall to the second round, but as Montee Ball found out last year, sometime waiting to be drafted a little later means you land in a better situation. Either way, Borland will have a very good chance to make an impact on the field from day one.Dezmen Southward, SAfter Borland, it gets a little murkier when determining which former Badger will be picked next. Before Wisconsin’s pro day, chances are Southward would not be this high on the list, but after wowing scouts with a sub-4.4 40 time and a 42-inch vertical jump, Southward saw his stock soar. He probably didn’t have the senior campaign at Wisconsin that he was hoping for, but he still has the athleticism that might be enough to entice an NFL team to use a fourth-round pick on him. The safety position in this year’s draft has a definite group of four to five guys who have separated themselves from the rest, but after that it is a toss up. We’ll have to see if Southward’s pro day performance was enough to boost him to the third round, but chances are his name will be called somewhere in the fourth or fifth round.Ryan Groy, OGRyan Groy has the legacy of Wisconsin offensive lineman behind him, which should help him move up a couple of picks. Groy was the anchor of the Badgers’ offensive line last season and would be able to move into an immediate backup role in the NFL and possibly be molded into a solid starter a few years down the road. Teams are always on the lookout for players that will bolster their depth on the front line and Groy would be a good value in the fourth to sixth round.Jared Abbrederis, WRJared Abbrederis won’t wow you with his speed or strength, but he has above-average hands and runs strong routes. He ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the combine and posted a 30.5-inch vertical jump. Abbrederis has the chance to work his way into a No. 3 or No. 4 wide receiver position for a team early on. This year has one of the deeper wide receiver groups that has been seen in some time which could cause him to fall a little. Abbrederis will likely be drafted between the fourth and sixth rounds.Everyone ElseTight end Jacob Pedersen and running back James White will be drafted. White’s stock will suffer by the suddenly decreased value in running backs in the league, but can serve a change-of-pace back that several if not all teams use now. Pedersen did enough in his time in Madison to warrant a pick. There are several other defensive players that have a chance at being drafted this weekend, Beau Allen, Ethan Hemer and Brendan Kelly all have a chance to have their names called.last_img read more

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Spieth’s collapse may spark his career

first_imgWith the continuous shakeup of the leaderboard at the Masters, one player remained the constant.As the plot continued to thicken, Jordan Spieth remained atop the field. The seemingly unflappable 22-year-old was cruising to his second green jacket in as many years.Then, it happened. Spieth’s inexplicable implosion in the middle of Amen Corner on Sunday all but destroyed his chances of retaining his crown as king of Augusta National. In the span of just a few minutes, Spieth went from leader to chaser — from 5-under-par to 1-under. Surely, fans thought their eyes were deceiving them when the tournament leader found the water hazard twice on the same hole.He was indeed unable to rebound from his stunning 7 — a quadruple bogey on the par-3 12th hole.Danny Willett went on to win the Masters and Spieth had to trudge through the process of presenting the Englishman with the green jacket. Spieth showed genuine class during what was surely an agonizing experience.Yet these moments are inevitable in arguably the cruelest sport on the face of the planet. Spieth took home the hardware from the U.S. Open last June, but Dustin Johnson three-putted the 18th green on a fateful Sunday and finished just a stroke worse than Spieth. Johnson collapsed on the 72nd hole at Chambers Bay. Spieth lost his magical touch on one hole on the back nine at Augusta. It happens to the very best.Spieth will never forget the burn of the 2016 Masters, but the horror story that was the 12th hole could actually make him even better in the future. He has already snagged two majors. Golfing great Sergio Garcia has never won a major, and he turned pro when Spieth was in the early stages of grade school.Spieth’s Sunday debacle was incomprehensible, but the nature of the sport suggests that something like this was bound to happen at some point in his career. In a sense, this experience could be a catalyst for Spieth to take his game to the next level. He is so young and already possesses such a refined skillset, but he failed to break 70 after shooting a sporty 66 on Thursday. A 66 at Augusta is unreal, yet the Spieth of the future will likely be able to card that score on all four days. He erred on one hole, but one hole can doom a player in this unforgiving game. Ernie Els six-putted the first hole on Thursday and was immediately out of contention.Augusta National is ruthless, yet Spieth was nearly infallible in this tournament. His short game was reliable, as he correctly read the challenging greens time and time again. He just happened to err on one hole, and well, that was that.Spieth has the potential to go down as one of the greatest of all time, and he is precocious both on and off the links. After a devastating turn of events in Augusta, Spieth faced the media and came back with earnest, candid responses.The consistency this young man exhibits from hole to hole and round to round has the capability of blinding fans from the fact that he is mortal. To see this golfing demigod so somber was eerie. While he does not provide fans with the raw emotion of a Tiger Woods, his game in and of itself is something to behold. He was still the personification of equanimity after losing out on Sunday, but a certain fire ought to be brewing from within this competitor. This Sunday was certainly one to forget for Spieth, but he simply will not be able to shake the image of the 12th hole.That is not necessarily a bad thing.This Masters moment will likely fade into the background when Spieth is surrounded by major trophies one day, leaning back on his throne of greatness. Or perhaps this moment might be in the forefront of his mind as he reflects on an illustrious career, noting that Sunday was the day that sparked his transition from great to unstoppableThis was a career-defining moment for Spieth. In other words, the best is yet to come. Josh Cohen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Cohen’s Corner,” runs Tuesdays.last_img read more

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Riyad Mahrez tells Leicester City he wants to stay

first_imgLeicester City’s Riyad Mahrez has given the Premier League champions a boost by telling the owners he wants to stay at the club next season, British media reported on Thursday.Mahrez has played a key part in Leicester’s success but doubts about his future were sparked when his agent said it was “50-50″ whether the winger would leave in the close season. (Also read: Here’s how Leicester City pulled off the seemingly impossible) However, club vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, son of billionaire owner Vichai, said he has already been given reassurances by the Algeria international.”I want the players to enjoy this moment and not be concerned about their contracts,” Srivaddhanaprabha was quoted as saying by The Telegraph website.”They are good boys and they understand. Even Mahrez, I talked to him and said, ‘Are you concerned?’ He said ‘No, no, I want to stay’. This is what he wants, he wants to stay. (Also read: This is what Lionel Messi has to say about EPL champions Leicester City) “It depends on the players and the clubs who want them, but we have no policy to sell the players and we don’t have a problem with money.”We will try everything that we can to build the team and to secure the same group of players and add some quality.”Mahrez, 25, has been one of the club’s best performers and his 17 league goals and 11 assists earned him the PFA Player of the Year award as they won their first top-flight title.advertisementLeicester host 11th-placed Everton on Saturday, after which they will be presented with the Premier League trophy.British media reported that the club will discuss new contracts to reward key players like Mahrez, N’Golo Kante, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Danny Drinkwater.”We have to wait until the end of the season and evaluate everyone. I am super fair, and happy to improve if they deserve something. It depends on how Wes lifts the trophy!” Srivaddhanaprabha joked.last_img read more