“He had so much twitch, so much upside, it was something we couldn’t pass on,” Gutekunst said. “The kid can run. He’s got a lot of upside. We felt fortunate to get him.”
In the 6-4, 257-pound Rodgers, they got a tight end who didn’t spend much time on the line of scrimmage and will have to learn how to block but has some intriguing athletic gifts.
“He's got ability,” tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. “I did have to do some searching to find some tape on him blocking, but he is capable of blocking. I think that once he gets in and gets a chance to compete, we ask our guys to do everything, [and] I think that he's perfectly capable of competing for that.”
In the 6-1, 250-pound Bradford, they have a player who lacks ideal size for the position but put up 39 tackles for loss and 20 sacks in two seasons as a starter.
“Probably one of the reasons he was staring us in the face where he was is the fact he’s not your prototypical 6-4, 35-inch arm type of guy. But after watching the tape and doing the workout stuff, I think we felt comfortable he’d transition to this league pretty well,” Gutekunst said. “He’s a pass rusher. That’s what he does best.”
In the 6-3, 296-pound Linsley, they get an experienced center who will compete with 2013 fourth-round pick JC Tretter for the open starting job.
“It’s good to finally draft one that’s played the position before. We’re all excited about that. I know (line coach) James Campen’s real excited,” McCarthy said. “It will be good just to have a natural center come in and play that position. I know we historically move our guys around but I think it’s important for him to come in and play center.”
In the 6-1, 195-pound Abbrederis they get their first Badger in over a decade (guard Bill Ferrario was the last UW player the Packers drafted, in the fourth round in 2001) and a determined person who went from walk-on to No. 1 receiver during his time in Madison and could help at both receiver and returner.
“I’ve been watching him for a few years – as I guess probably all of you – and followed his track [with] the walking on, trying to earn his own way,” Thompson said. “His first couple of years especially, he did everything but sell hot dogs down there. He did all the returning on kicks and punts and all that sort of stuff, and then you watch him play his junior and senior year and every game they played (against) the opponents in the Big Ten, quality corners are on him and he still gets open, he still catches the ball and he still runs with it. We think he’s a very versatile guy.”
In the 5-11, 194-pound Goodson, they have a raw ex-basketball player project who will require good fundamental coaching to unlock his football potential.
“The basketball thing, that’s in the past. I just strictly look at the football player,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “Some of the things he did in basketball, being able to stay in front of guys and use your feet and things like that, it’s just like playing corner. So that will help him. But other than that, I like the kid’s skill set. He’s a guy that has a chance to be a good player down the road.”
And in the 6-3, 219-pound Janis, they get an off-the-charts athlete who was a star at the Division II level.
“He completely dominated his level of play,” Thompson said of Janis, who had 83 catches for 1,572 yards and 14 TDs last year. “We do testing results of all the 40s and jumps and bench presses and shuttles and all that of every player in the draft that is eligible; it’s like 1,000 guys. Of all the receivers in that group, he was the second-rated athlete according to his testing. He’s a very gifted fellow.”
And whether need was a tie-breaker for them at the time of their selection or not, they’ll all get a chance to show what they can do starting Friday at the rookie orientation camp.
“All the players that were drafted, it definitely gives us a lot of competition, particularly at the wide receiver position,” McCarthy said. “I don't think you ever go into the draft and put limits or expectations on how much competition you're trying to create in one specific area. It had a lot to do with the way the board was set.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.