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Badgers make most of Senior Bowl showcase

White

Senior Bowl Logo
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
Based on the rave reviews that flowed out of Mobile, Ala., all week, it should come as no surprise that three Wisconsin football players were among the stars of the Senior Bowl on Saturday.

RB James White was named the North team's Most Outstanding Player after leading this squad in rushing with 62 yards on 11 carries and scoring the North's only touchdown -- a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.

White also led the North with a team-high five receptions, while Badgers TE Jacob Pedersen led the team in terms of receiving yards with 46 on four catches.

Defensively, LB Chris Borland paced all players with eight tackles, including one for loss, and forced a fumble -- no surprise for the man who finished his career with the second-most forced fumbles in FBS history (15).

The Badgers' North team finished on the wrong end of the 20-10 final score, but it was clear UW's contingent -- including WR Jared Abbrederis, who had to withdraw from the game a hamstring injury -- were all winners.

The consensus of those covering the week of practices was that Abbrederis was the best receiver and Borland the most impressive linebacker. White also drew a fair share of praise, while Pedersen underscored his reputation as a reliable receiver and blocker and Southward (who had two tackles in the game) confirmed his flexibility in the defensive backfield.

Combine the performances of those five this week with the favorable impressions left by TE Brian Wozniak at the NLFPA Collegiate Bowl and NG Beau Allen at the East-West Shrine Game and the Badgers' seniors have maximized their chances to improve their draft stocks.

For now, it's back to preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, which is set for Feb. 22-25 in Indianapolis. The Badgers will also host their annual Pro Day in early March.

Senior Bowl Coverage

- Final Stats
- Photo Gallery (NFL.com)
- Highlights (NFL.com)
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog

What They're Saying...

- White caught the eye of NFL.com's Mike Huguenin during the game and should benefit from being so productive at UW despite sharing carries with John Clay, Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon: "...one selling point is that because he has shared carries, he has a lot of tread left on his tires."

- Before the game, White talked about his versatility with Packers beat writer Ty Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "That's one big thing coming out of Wisconsin," White said. "It's always, 'He's running behind an NFL offensive line.' I wanted to come out here and showcase my ability to make people miss and showcase my burst. Prove it all."

- NFL.com's Chase Goodbread pointed to Borland as one of the big "winners" from the game.

- Borland was also one of the week's big winners in the eyes of Brent Sobleski of USA Today: "From the moment Borland stepped onto the Senior Bowl practice field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, he was in control."

Badgers' strong Senior Bowl showings continue

Senior Bowl Logo
 NFL Network Broadcast Schedule
Friday, Jan. 24
- Week in Review: 9 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25

- 2014 Senior Bowl: 3 p.m.
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
 
The big news on the Badgers front Friday at the Senior Bowl was WR Jared Abbrederis withdrawing from the game. "Unfortunately I won't be able to compete in the game because I tweaked my hamstring," Abbrederis wrote on Twitter.

Even without playing in the game, Abbrederis accomplished what he set out to do this week, and that's impress NFL scouts and front-office personnel. The consensus seems to be that Abbrederis raised his draft stock with a solid week of work.

The final day of Senior Bowl practice in full pads came and went Wednesday, so that meant many of the media members and draftniks who have set up shop in Mobile, Ala., were ready to crown their big winners from the week.

In other words, here come the lists!

(In case you missed all the analysis from earlier in the week, here's our first look at Senior Bowl coverage from around the web.)

- Draft analyst Russ Lande put together his top 10 performers from the week of practice for Sports on Earth and, not surprisingly, Badgers Jared Abbrederis and Chris Borland were among his highlights:

On Abbrederis: "Arriving in Mobile with questions about his size and playing strength, Abbrederis leaves having proven that he has what it takes to be a quality starting slot receiver at the next level."

On Borland: "While NFL teams generally do not get excited about 5-foot-11 linebackers, there is no question that Borland's play all week had NFL people almost giddy."

- Abbrederis and Borland were also singled out for the parts of their game that resonated most with scouts by Coy Wire of FOX Sports. Borland? He's the "best hunter." Abbrederis (who actually spends his free time hunting) was labeled as the "best route runner" in Coy's observations from the week.



- Senior Bowl director Phil Savage points out Abbrederis, Borland and RB James White as players who are "turning heads" this week: "Every time I looked up, the running back from Wisconsin, James White seemed to be making a play," Savage said.

- Borland turned enough heads to be named the Most Outstanding Linebacker of the Senior Bowl practices by NFL personnel evaluating talent in Mobile.

- Packers beat writer Ty Dunne specifically mentions Borland and White in his look at prospects emerging from this week's practices for JSOnline.

- Former Green Bay great Leroy Butler joined Dunne to break down a number of players in a video segment for JSOnline, but it was the Badgers who caught Butler's eye this week: "You'll see a lot of Badgers go higher than you think in this particular draft," he said. Butler specifically mentioned TE Jacob Pedersen as an under-the-radar player and dismissed a couple of the knocks on Abbrederis and Borland. "The height is not an issue anymore," Butler said in reference to Borland's 5-foot-11 measurement. "If you can play football, you can play football." On the prevailing wisdom that Abbrederis will be a slot receiver in the NFL, Butler claims, "He's more outside like Jordy Nelson. He can make a team better."

- Dunne also caught up with Badgers S Dez Southward in another JSOnline video: "Versatility, that's what everybody wants," Southward said. "That's something, definitely, I can bring to the table."

- ESPN's Todd McShay agrees, labeling Southward just that: the most versatile defensive back at the Senior Bowl.

- BTN continues its coverage from Mobile, with Lisa Byington catching up with Borland following practice..

Badgers shining at Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl Logo
 NFL Network Broadcast Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 23
- Practice: 3 p.m.
- Senior Bowl Recap: 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 24

- Week in Review: 9 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25

- 2014 Senior Bowl: 3 p.m.
 Senior Bowl Coverage
- Borland's Senior Bowl Blog
- SeniorBowl.com
- NFL.com Senior Bowl Home
- CBSSports.com Senior Bowl Home
- ESPN.com Senior Bowl Home
Who were the winners and losers of weigh-in day?

Yes, winners and losers of weigh-ins. That's the level to which prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft are being dissected this week in Mobile, Ala., leading up to the Senior Bowl, the nation's most prestigious college all-star game.

There's no shortage of coverage from Mobile, headlined by a daily TV presence on NFL Network, which will air the Senior Bowl game live at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Those prospects' week under the microscope began when they were sized up Sunday in front of a room full of personnel from NFL teams.

Jared Abbrederis, Chris Borland and James White -- three of the five former Badgers selected for the Senior Bowl, along with Jacob Pedersen and Dez Southward -- were listed among the losers from weigh-ins. At 6-0 and 189 pounds, Abbrederis measured in "shorter and lighter than expected." Borland has the shortest arms of any linebacker in Mobile.

Since they've taken the field, however, all three have been on a winning streak, according to the media members and draft pundits on site:

An AFC scout told NFL.com's Andy Fenelon that Abbrederis has "consistently been the best receiver on the field this week" in a deep draft class for at the position.

ESPN's Todd McShay tweeted Wednesday that Borland "is an animal. Great instincts. Strong this wk as rusher and in cvg. Doesn't have measurables but who cares. He's a player!"



Not surprisingly, White has drawn praise for his strong work in pass protection, as a pass-catcher and as a consistent runner. According to one account of Tuesday's practice, "White's lone ugly rep came as college teammate Chris Borland beat him with a swim move."

For the Badgers, this week is about proving to NFL scouts that the tale of the (video) tape is more telling than the tale of the (measuring) tape.

So far, so good.

What They're Saying...
NFL Network's Mike Mayock called Borland "as fun a guy to watch on tape as I have ever seen" and compared him to second-year Carolina Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly.

Borland was among the most impressive players as full-pads practices came to an end with Wednesday's session for the North Team, according to NFL.com's Chase Goodbread.

 Tony Pauline is keeping a running tab on each player at DraftInsider.net. His thoughts on Borland? Monday: "Just a tremendous day." Tuesday: "Another terrific day."

In a video recap for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Pauline poured more praise on Borland's game: "He plays smart, instinctive football, he's tough, he goes after the ballcarrier. He made plays on the blitz, made plays in run defense, also made good plays in coverage. He's got all the skills except for the height." 

Pauline had similar thoughts for Packers.com writer Vic Ketchman in this video recap. For his part, Ketchman also thinks highly of Borland, taking the popular comparison to former NFL star Zach Thomas a step further: "Borland bears body resemblance to Zach Thomas, but he's a better player."

Ketchman's thoughts were shared by Falcons head coach Mike Smith, who is guiding Borland's North Team this week in Mobile: "He reminds me of Zach Thomas. Sometimes we put these measurables up, but the tape doesn't lie. That's your DNA. He has great FBI (football intelligence)."

The crew from NFL Network also gave their thoughts on Borland's NFL future.

Borland is offering insight into his experience in Mobile by contributing a journal on the Senior Bowl's official web site. "It's no longer a dream, it's right front in of you," he writes. "I think it's exciting for us and I'm definitely pumped about it."

 Russ Lande was a guest on Big Ten Network's BTN Live on Tuesday and addressed the impression Borland has left on scouts: "Some people thought ... that like of height might hinder him, but he's just been great. The thing that's been the most impressive is his all-around versatility."

Lande also had some good things to say about Abbrederis: "He's making a tremdendous impression. Through the two days of practice he's shown that he's polished receivers down here in Mobile ... he's looked just tremendous."

Abbrederis and Borland were also the headliners of this assessment of the Senior Bowl workouts by the Sporting News.

When it comes to wide receivers, the consensus seems to be that Abbrederis has been most impressive in practice this week: "He's consistently been the best receiver on the field this week," an AFC scout told NFL.com's Andy Fenelon. "You know when they say the best player always jumps off the film when you pop in a game tape? Jared has been one of those guys for me this week."

NFL Network talked to Abbrederis about how much pride he takes in his precise route-running.

BTN's Lisa Byington also caught up with Abby to get his thoughts on his Senior Bowl showing.

The first team to talk with Pedersen in Mobile? That would be the Green Bay Packers, the team he grew up rooting for in nearby Menominee, Mich. "They haven't drafted a Wisconsin guy in a while," Pedersen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "but I wouldn't mind doing that."

Speaking of hometown teams, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native White spoke with MiamiDolphins.com on his hopes for the Senior Bowl.

Senior Bowl week winding down

As the teams make their final preparations for the Saturday's Senior Bowl, the Badgers who are participating in the game are still turning heads. However, inclement weather forced the North squad to "practice" inside a ballroom in the Mobile Convention Center.



Russell Wilson and the other North Team QBs have impressed the Minnesota Vikings coach staff they have been working with all week (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).

Pro Football Weekly's two reporters both couldn't help but notice Wilson during Wednesday's practice ("I wasn't watching the North quarterbacks closely this morning, but Wisconsin's Russell Wilson nonetheless caught my eye").

NFL.com's Simon Samano says "Wilson isn't short on confidence."

Pro Football Weekly also broke down Kevin Zeitler's draft prospects (2nd round - "A very smart, steady, blue-collar man blocker capable of eliminating defenders when he gets his hands on them").

NFLMocks.com has Zeitler among its top 10 prospects at the Senior Bowl, calling him, "Another massive offensive lineman who is primed to play guard in the NFL."

Even though he's not at the Senior Bowl (probably because he left as a junior), C Peter Konz shows up on Pro Football Weekly's Mock draft 1.0 at No. 18 to San Diego ("Konz has the strength and power to make an immediate impact and fortify the Chargers' interior").

The Senior Bowl will start at 3 p.m. CT with coverage beginning on NFL Network at 2:30 p.m.

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