Chris Orr on Who's Up Next for Wisconsin's Inside Linebackers

More from AllBadgers.com's interview with the NFL-bound Badger.

Last season, Chris Orr divulged Wisconsin's inside linebacker room gave itself the nickname of "Death Row" years ago.

Previous members have included T.J. Edwards, and Ryan Connelly. Both are currently in the NFL, and Orr himself is on that path to play at the professional level after a UW career that spanned 50 games, three Big Ten West Championships and consensus second-team All-Big Ten honors.

Now defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and inside linebackers coach Bob Bostad will look to the next set of Badgers at that position group.

Leading them will likely be Jack Sanborn, who is slated to be a junior next season and led the team in tackles (80) in 2019. He also tied for first in interceptions with safety Eric Burrell (three) while recording nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

AllBadgers.com asked Orr who he thinks will step up once football returns. He first mentioned Sanborn.

"I think Jack is gonna take another leap forward," Orr said last week. "I think Jack's gonna have a big, breakout year."

Who fills Orr's spot next to Sanborn will be interesting. Mike Maskalunas walked on to Wisconsin as part of the class of 2016 and finds himself in position to contribute after playing all 14 games and contributing 16 tackles last season.

Then there's Leo Chenal, who will enter his second year in the program. As a true freshman, he worked his way into the two-deep and eventually played in 11 games. Orr thinks both will find their way on the field.

"I think Mikey's gonna have a big year. Leo's going to have a big year," Orr said. "That'll probably end up being like a three-man rotation, but they also got some young guys. Maema (Njongmeta), I think he's gonna make some strides."

Orr believes it was important for the group to have spring practices, but those organized team activities have been suspended by the Big Ten for March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm definitely gonna be watching closely and seeing if I can see any mental errors or anything like that," Orr said. "But I'm eager to see how they handle this because, during this time, you can sharpen up a lot, especially on the playbook. You can understand it so much more and clearer. I know they're still meeting with the coaches and stuff.

"I think they're all gonna step up in a big way, but if I said anybody, I would say Jack. Jack is going to have a lot of eyes (on him) because he made some plays this year, so he's going to be getting schemed up now."

Update, Jun. 27: Correcting Maskalunas's tackle total to 16. Chenal had 20 last season.