Wisconsin trounced Illinois in the first game of the 2020 season, and everything was looking up for the Badgers until COVID-19 struck. The pandemic forced the Badgers to cancel the next two games of their season and killed their chances of appearing in Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship. There were three Wisconsin players selected in the 2021 NFL draft, while others signed as undrafted free agents. Players drafted include Isaiahh Loudermilk (Steelers), Rachad Wildgoose (Bills) and Cole Van Lanen, who will stay in Wisconsin and play for the Packers. In 2022, there should be more players drafted from Wisconsin, as they have some intriguing returning players. Let's take a look at the top five Badgers prospects for the 2022 draft.
DL Keeanu Benton
There have been some quality NFL defensive linemen that have come out of Wisconsin, including J.J. Watt and Isaiahh Loudermilk, but Benton has a chance to be a star at the next level. He has the size and strength to dominate on the interior of the defensive line. Benton recorded nine tackles and forced two fumbles in the seven games Wisconsin played in 2020. With a typical offseason in the weight room and spring practice, expect Benton to explode onto the scene for the Badgers in 2021.
LB Leo Chenal
Wisconsin is known for its hard-nosed midwestern football brand, and Chenal brings that element to the table. The Wisconsin native is an essential player for the Badgers, being a leader and making some highlight plays. Chenal recorded 46 tackles, including 31 solo, with 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks in the 2020 season for the Badgers. His production has gone up every year that he has played, so it will be no shock if he has a career season in 2021.
LB Jack Sanborn
Arguably Wisconsin's best defender, Sanborn was a force to deal with in the 2020 season. Sanborn had 52 tackles and five quarterback hits during the season. He's at his best in the spy role for Wisconsin, as he has the speed to track down ball-carriers and can also get after the quarterback with his agility. He would have most likely been drafted if he came out last season, but Sanborn is sure to be a top-five linebacker in this class.
TE Jake Ferguson
It's fair to say that Ferguson is the Badgers' best returning player in 2021. He has the size and physical ability of some of the best tight ends in the NFL. He can move upfield and get open with consistency while blocking well and showing a willingness to do so. In a shortened 2020 season, Ferguson collected 30 catches for 305 yards and four touchdowns. After generational prospect Kyle Pitts took over college football last season, Ferguson could the best tight end in the 2022 draft.
OL Logan Bruss
Although he's already getting NFL buzz, Bruss is focused on the now for his senior season. Talking with Madison.com, Bruss said: "Every time you get to your senior year, you kind of feel a responsibility that it's your time to take over the reins. I think we have a really good thing going right now and I'm excited to see where it goes." NFL teams will appreciate Bruss's leadership on and off the field. Bruss was one of only two Badgers offensive linemen to start all seven games, which is an impressive feat for a school that is constantly breeding Pro Bowl-caliber linemen. In addition, he's a dynamic player who can play both guard and tackle, which makes him even more attractive as a prospect.