Back-to-back wins in a New Year’s Six bowl game generally means you’re doing something right. It also means you have a ton of talent on your teams.
That talent is starting to get national recognition heading in to the 2018 season, and one of the more interesting looks comes from the College Football Preview guru himself — Phil Steele. Early on in his magazine, Steele lists his top draft-eligible players in the country.
Wisconsin receives a huge amount of love in this area of Steele’s preseason magazine. No position group is more representative of that than UW’s offensive line though.
Steele ranks 4 of the 5 starters inside the top 3 of their respective positions.
Redshirt sophomore center Tyler Biadsz is No. 1 at his position, while right tackle David Edwards comes in at the No. 3 tackle in the country. Meanwhile Michael Dieter is rated as the No. 1 guard in the land, with Beau Benzschawel right behind at No. 2 in the country.
The accolades aren’t just on the offensive line either, as junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook is rated as the No. 17 quarterback (even though he won’t be coming out for the draft after this season).
His main target, Quintez Cephus, comes in at the No. 47 spot amongst all wide receivers, despite having only one real breakout season under his belt.
Of course, Jonathan Taylor isn’t on this list because he isn’t draft eligible. About the only name to watch that wasn’t included offensively would be that of redshirt sophomore Cole Van Lanen, who is likely to push Dieter inside this season, and is technically draft eligible since he’s three years removed from high school.
Defensively, the Badgers have only one experienced player up front — senior nose guard Olive Sagapolu. He comes in at No. 9 in the rankings of defensive tackles. Meanwhile inside linebacker T.J. Edwards is the top choice in the country for Steele. Fellow inside linebacker Ryan Connelly comes in at No. 18 and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel ranks No. 26 at his position heading in to the season.
Rounding out the defense is strong safety D’Cota Dixon, who comes in at No. 5 in Steele’s rankings.
But, the Badgers aren’t done there, as Rafael Gaglianone comes in as the No. 5 draft-eligible kicker in the land.
It all adds up to the point that UW has a ton of talent returning and a few holes to fill. If the talent can equal production, it could be a very special season in Madison.