Skip to main content

Just Another Wisconsin Lineman?


Ravens rookie Rick Wagner is just another Wisconsin lineman.

That's a compliment.

A Wisconsin offensive lineman has been selected in the first round of the NFL draft each of the past three years. Over that time, a total of seven Badger blockers have been drafted.

How is Wagner, a fifth-round pick, any different?

"That might be tough," Wagner said with a laugh. "All of us are pretty much the same guy on and off the field."

Here's Wagner's definition of a Badger blocker:

"Tough guy, does his work and doesn't say too much. Gets his work done and goes home."

In 2011, three Wisconsin offensive linemen were drafted. Tackle Gabe Carimi went 29th overall to Chicago, guard John Moffit went in the third round to Seattle and center Bill Nagy went in the seventh round to Dallas. All three started during their rookie seasons.

In 2012, guard Kevin Zeitler was drafted 27th overall by Cincinnati. Center Peter Konz was taken in the second round by Atlanta. They also both started.

This year, Wagner came in with good buddy and training partner Travis Frederick. The center was taken 31st overall by Dallas. Wagner unexpectedly lasted until the fifth round.

While Wagner isn't projected to be an immediate starter, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said he envisions him as a "great depth guy for us initially with a chance to emerge."

It may not be long before Wagner joins his Wisconsin brethren as a contributor on Sundays.

Immediately after the draft ended, DeCosta told reporters that Wagner has a good frame, position flexibility, good feet, good strength, experience, intelligence and toughness.

It all boils down to one thing.

"We like Midwest offensive linemen, Big 10 offensive linemen," DeCosta said. "He is a guy that's played in a program with a lot of really good pro NFL linemen, so he's been well-coached and had very good offensive line coaches come through there in the last four, five, six years."

A strong coaching staff was essential for Wagner when he came out of high school. He was originally a basketball player who had low-level Division I offers, but turned them down to be a walk-on football player at Wisconsin.

He fell in love with football and felt he had a better future there.

Wagner was quickly converted from tight end to tackle, which is when his offensive line tutelage began. He was plugged into the Wisconsin system.

"It wasn't as hard as other places because it was like I had five other coaches on the offensive line," Wagner said. "I think if you just do everything the coaches tell you there, you're going to have a pretty good chance. It just comes with the territory there."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content