The 2014 NFL Draft is just under a week away, which means it's time to take a look at the former Badger football players who are hoping to hear their names called sometime between May 8 and 10.
So far I've profiled Chris Borland, Jared Abbrederis, Ryan Groy, James White and Dezmen Southward, which means we're in the home stretch for this series. Up next is Jacob Pedersen, who is looking to follow in the footsteps of previous Wisconsin tight ends.
The Badgers have five former tight ends playing in the NFL right now, four of whom were drafted between 2006 and 2011 between rounds three and five. That might be a stretch for Pedersen, but he has the skillset to be a productive complementary piece for a team if it's the right fit.
A native of Menominee, Mich., Pedersen joined the Badgers in 2009 for a redshirt season and was a productive part of their offense for the rest of his career. He backed up Lance Kendricks for one year before stepping up as Wisconsin's top tight end for his final three seasons on campus. He was a frequent redzone target for Russell Wilson in 2011, when he caught a career-high eight touchdowns. Pedersen wouldn't match that number again, but his average yards per catch rose during his junior and senior seasons. He was named the Big Ten's tight end of the year in 2012, and finished his senior season as a consensus Honorable Mention All-Big Ten player.
Final stat line: 104 receptions, 1,394 yards, 17 touchdowns, 13.4 yards per reception.
Weight: 238 pounds
225 Lb. Bench Reps: Did not participate
Arm Length: 31.75 inches
Hands: 9 inches
40-Yard Dash: 4.89 seconds (18th among TEs)
Vertical Jump: 28.5 inches (15th among TEs)
Pedersen has a lot of versatility to his game. He played as an in-line tight end and as an H-back for the Badgers, and was often used as a lead blocker after motioning over to another side. He's probably a better fit as an H-back in the NFL, but in a passing league teams could always use players who can catch. I think he's more athletic than he gets credit for- he had success leaping over the middle for some catches, but NFL defenders will make those tougher. He's a player that does several things well, even if he doesn't stand out in one category.
Like I mentioned before, Pedersen is a solid all-around college player who doesn't have an elite category he can point to. He doesn't fit the "physical monster" mold of some current NFL tight ends, so he doesn't have the same matchup-to-matchup advantage of some other players. His measurables are also a little lower than you'd like to see in a NFL-caliber tight end, and I don't know if he's strong enough to stick as an in-line blocker at the next level.
Potential Landing Spots
The Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills are just some of several teams who could use some depth at tight end moving forward.
John's final take:
Pedersen's value will likely come from his versatility, but I think right now he's a good fit as a back up tight end. If he lands with a team that has a balanced offense he could contribute as a blocker and as a pass catcher he could carve out a decent amount of time in the league- which isn't bad for where he's being mocked right now.
Pedersen could go anywhere from the fifth round to signing a free agent contract after the draft, but I think there are enough tight end needy teams at the back end of the draft where he stands a good chance of being take. Atlanta in particular could use someone to replace Tony Gonzales, but if they trade some of their later picks to move up in the first round they might have to prioritize elsewhere.
Sixth Round to the Atlanta Falcons, No. 182 overall.
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.