Three former Wisconsin Badgers were at least week’s NFL combine – defensive tackle Keeanu Benton, linebacker Nick Herbig and center Joe Tippmann.
If you missed it, Benton did 25 repetitions in the bench press (fifth best among the 12 DTs who participated), 5.08 seconds in the 40-yard dash (eighth of 15), 7.3 seconds in the 3-cone (second of 11), 4.65 seconds in the shuttle (fourth of nine), had a 29.5-inch vertical (tied for fifth out of 13) and a 9-foot, 3-inch broad jump (fifth of 12).
Herbig only did the bench presser, where he did 25 reps (tied for eighth out of 25 defensive ends/edge players). Tippmann did not participate.
That pretty much excludes Herbig and Tippmann from the best combine performance for a Badger over the year. But what about Benton? Will he make our all-time NFL combine All-Star team? Here’s our picks:
Russell Wilson (2012): Pretty easy choice here as only five Badgers QBs have done drills at the combine. Wilson has the best 40 time (4.53), vertical (34 inches), broad jump (118 inches) and shuttle (4.09 seconds) and also had a 3-cone of under 7 seconds (6.97; Scott Tolzien had 6.84). Wilson’s 40-time ranks as the seventh fastest since 2000 for QBs.
Michael Bennett (2001): Of the 12 Badgers RBs who have combine numbers, Bennett has the best vertical (39.5) and broad jump (130). Oh, and he also ran a 4.4. as far as the other backs, Jonathan Taylor ran a 4.39 and Melvin Gordon had a 4.07 shuttle but their overall numbers pale in comparison to Bennett’s.
Bradie Ewing (2012): Hey, we’re going traditional Wisconsin offense so give us that lead blocker. Since 2000, four Badgers FBs have hit the combine – Matt Bernstein, Ewing, Alec Ingold and Mason Stokee. Of those, Ewing has the best 40 (4.73), vertical (36.5), broad jump (120), 3-cone (7.14) and shuttle (4.16).
Chris Chambers (2001): This is the easy choice. Chambers ran a 4.33, had a 45-inch vertical, 134-inch broad jump and 4.00 in the shuttle – all Wisconsin WR bests (he didn’t do the bench or 3-cone). Since 2000, only one wide receiver has a better vertical.
Jonathan Orr (2006): The second WR spot is tougher as many players did well in one area but not others. We’ll go with Orr, who had an overall decent performance: 4.47 40, 35.5 vertical, 119 broad, 4.16 shuttle and 7.31 3-cone.
Lance Kendricks (2011): Travis Beckum could have been the choice, but he only did two events: 40 (4.61) and bench (28), both of which are best for Wisconsin TEs. Kendricks was close behind, with a 4.65 40 and 25 bench reps along with a 122-inch broad jump (best among Badgers TEs) with a 6.94 3-cone and 4.15 shuttle. Owen Daniels easily could have had the nod as well. He had the same 40 time and vertical as Kendricks with 23 bench reps, 114-inch broad jump, 6.87 3-cone and 4.10 shuttle.
Aaron Gibson (1999): Gibson isn’t just the king of Wisconsin tackles in bench reps with 31 but he also has the best shuttle time at 4.54 seconds (also best for Badgers OTs). In addition, his 111-inch broad jump was surpassed only by Logan Bruss’ 112 in 2022. Not bad for a guy who weighed 386 pounds at the time.
Joe Thomas (2007): Probably not a surprise that Thomas had a stellar combine. He ran a 4.92 (per pro-football-reference; nflcombineresults.com has him at 4.94) 40 – the only Badgers tackle to finish under 5 seconds. Since 2000, only 18 tackles have run a 4.92 or better. His 33-inch vertical leap also is best among Badgers OTs. Thomas also did 28 bench reps, had a 7.95 3-cone and 4.88 shuttle.
Rodney Lossow (1988): We wouldn’t be surprised with a collective “Who?” regarding this pre-Barry Alvarez player. But Lossow ran the 40 in 5 seconds flat and owns Badgers center combine records in bench press (28 reps) and broad jump (107 inches) while also posting respectable numbers in the huttle (4.69) and vertical (26 inches). Lossow played one season in the CFL and two in the WLAF, for what it’s worth.
Ryan Groy (2014): Groy wasn’t drafted but had a nice NFL career. His combine numbers in the shuttle (4.47) and 3-cone (7.49) surely helped his cause. Those are both best for Badgers guards. Since 2000, Groy is tied for 16th in the shuttle and 25th in the 3-cone among all guards at the combine. His 108-inch broad jump is also best among Wisconsin OGs. Groy ran a 5.19 40, had a 26.5-inch vertical and did 26 reps in the bench press.
Kevin Zeitler (2012): Zeitler solidified his status as first-round pick with an overall good performance at the combine. He did 32 bench reps, had a 29-inch vertical and 101-inch broad jump with a 4.61 in the shuttle and 7.77 3-cone.
Erasmus James (2005): Anyone who recalls the former first-round pick probably expected him to be included. He ran a 4.86 40, had a Badgers DE record 37.5-inch vertical to go with a 120-inch broad jump (tied for best), 4.37 shuttle and 7.56 3-cone. (Note: He didn’t do the bench press.)
J.J. Watt (2011): Another no-shocker. Watt crushed it at his combine and owns Badgers DE records for bench press (34), broad jump (120), shuttle (4.21) and 3-cone (6.88). He also ran a 4.91 40 and had a 37-inch vertical.
Nick Hayden (2008): We’re going to go with a 3-4 look, mainly because there’s not a lot of offering at defensive tackle + Wisconsin’s defense has been producing a lot of linebackers. Anyway, Hayden barely beats out Mike Thompson (1995) for our honor thanks to a better vertical (27), broad jump (108) and shuttle (4.54). Hayden did two fewer bench reps than Thompson but sill had 34. Hayden ran a 5.18 in the 40 with a 7.55 3-cone.
Leon Jacobs (2018): Jacobs might have gotten himself drafted with an impressive performance. He ran a 4.48 40 – best among Badgers OLBs – with 26 bench reps, 34.5-inch vertical, 122-inch broad jump, 4.44 shuttle and 7.14 3-cone.
Andrew Van Ginkel (2019): We wish Van Ginkel ran the 40 and did better in the bench (17) but he displayed his overall athleticism nonetheless. Van Ginkel owns Badgers OLB marks in the broad jump (123), shuttle (4.14) and 3-cone (6.89). He also had a 38-inch vertical.
Chris Borland (2014): Borland didn’t exactly flash 40 speed (4.83) but had a 4.27 in the shuttle – best among Wisconsin inside linebackers – and a 7.18 3-cone. He also had 27 reps in the bench press, also tops among UW ILBs. Add in a 113-inch broad jump, 31 vertical leap and reported 32 Wonderlic score and he’s an All-Combine performer.
Leo Chenal (2022): Chenal only did three drills – and still crushed it. He ran a 4.53 in the 40, had a 40.5-inch vertical leap and 128-inch broad jump. All three are top marks for Wisconsin linebackers. Only four LBs (not just ILBs) had a better vertical in a combine since 2000 while his broad jump is tied for 14th best over that span. Kind of makes you wish he did more to see what other numbers he would have compiled.
Scott Starks (2005): If we had an overall best performance category, Starks would definitely be in consideration. He ran a 4.37 (via pro-football-reference; NFLCombineResults.com has him a 4.42) while his 43-inch vertical is tied for sixth highest among all combine cornerbacks since 2000. Pro-football-reference lists his broad jump at 137 inches – third best since 2000 among CBs. Add in a 3.90 shuttle (tied for 10th best since 2000) and 6.99 3-cone. Only his bench press (13 reps) was a little lacking, but, hey, was a corner!
Jason Suttle (1998): There were plenty of other corners with faster 40 times than Suttle (4.54) but he makes this list thanks to impressing in nearly every other category. His 3.87 shuttle is best among Badgers DBs while his 36.5-inch vertical is topped only by Starks. Suttle also had a 120-inch broad jump and 7.16 shuttle.
Natrell Jamerson (2018): Wisconsin hasn’t had too many safeties perform drills at the combine (basically four) but nevertheless Jamerson had an impressive showing. He ran a 4.40 in the 40 with 25 bench reps, a 35.5-inch vertical and 120-inch broad jump.
Bobby Myers (2000): Myers ran only a 4.56 but showed off his athletic ability with a 37.5-inch vertical and 123-inch broad jump. He also had a 4.10 shuttle and 7.04 3-cone. For those wondering about Dezmen Southward, he sat out the combine then blew up at Wisconsin’s Pro Day.