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Vince Biegel: A Fourth-Round Steal?

Seeing as I don’t get to watch Wisconsin Badgers football games, I’ve previously been unaware of Vince Biegel’s career. Given that an injury compromised his first and last college years, it’s likely that being the Green Bay Packers’ draft pick, at 108th overall, misrepresents his potential in the pros.

Biegel, whose hometown is Wisconsin Rapids, was actually a five-year player at Wisconsin, but his first and last years were marred by injuries.

As a freshman in 2012, he only played in two games, recording no statistics, and thereby receiving a redshirt designation, allowing him four more years of college ball.

In 2013, Biegel only started two games, in which he recorded 25 total tackles, three for loss, and two sacks.

Biegel’s next two seasons are mainly what we have to go by, in order to project his potential with the Packers.

In 2014, Biegel started 13 of 14 games at outside linebacker. Teammate Marcus Trotter described him as “a hamster on a wheel,” always running around on the field. His energy paid off, as he had 56 tackles on the year and 7.5 sacks. Most impressively, he recorded 16.5 tackles for loss (TFL), ranking him in the top 20 in the nation.

TFLs are a good stat to follow for pass rushers. Some other notables on that 2014 list were the Falcons’ Vic Beasley, fourth place (21.5); the Chargers’ Joey Bosa, fifth (20.5); and the Packers’ Christian Ringo, tied for seventh (20.5). Shane Ray (third with 22.5) and Marcus Golden (tied for ninth with 20) have also established themselves as top NFL edge rushers, for Denver and Arizona respectively.

Heading into 2015, Biegel’s name was on several watch lists, including that of the Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and the Lombardi Award. Though he played in one fewer game, 2015 was an even better year for Biegel: 66 tackles, 14 of them for losses, and eight sacks. After being projected as only a third to sixth-round choice if he entered the 2016 NFL draft, Biegel returned for his final year with the Badgers.

Leading up to the 2016 season, he was named a team captain and Pro Football Focus projected him as the number one returning outside linebacker in both pass rushing and defending the run. It didn’t come to pass, however. After his fourth game, he was evaluated for a foot injury that had been bothering him, resulting in immediate surgery to insert a pin in a cracked bone. Four games later Biegel was back, aiding Wisconsin in an overtime upset of seventh-ranked Nebraska.

For his final year, Biegel played in only 10 games, and recorded fewer than half of his 2015 total of tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. Even so he was named second team All-Big 10. From 2014 through 2016, Biegel helped Wisconsin achieve a record of 32 wins and nine losses.

Scouting Reports on Biegel

SB Nation: Strengths include ability to set a hard edge on running plays, can bend around the edge for sacks, solid in zone coverage, can play off-ball linebacker, and is a special teams demon. Weaknesses: constantly out of control, sending him flying by his targets, more of a clean-up sacker than a sack creator.

Bleacher Report: Strengths: versatile, an effort player who wears down blockers, brings power and short-area quickness as a pass rusher, long frame will allow him to add muscle. Weaknesses: foot injury is a concern, will be 24 years old as an NFL rookie.

Pro Football Focus: Strengths: beautiful spin move, fantastic hand placement on first punch, extremely quick to read runs, superb short-area agility. Concerns include: very undersized, no threat to bull rush, short arms, missed 12 tackles on only 54 attempts in 2016.

Two of the above three raters suggest he might be used as a designated pass rusher.

Assessment

As Monty said last Saturday, the Packers gambled on this pick, thinking they might steal a quality player in the fourth round.

I think it was a risk worth taking. Biegel just needs to stay relatively healthy and continue to improve on what he did in 2014-15.

If nothing else, he’ll undoubtedly be a special teams’ terror. Given his manic energy, in his rookie season I’d like to see him come in on likely passing plays as a situation edge rusher – especially in the second half when the offensive line opponents are tiring. This s when his quickness and assortment of moves should be most effective.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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2 Comments

  1. KILLER May 7, 2017

    I’m not buying it.

    I did rank him a 3rd round value so getting him top of the 4th was, technically, a good deal. I really can’t say steal. I also don’t think he is a gamble. I think the team pretty much knows what they are getting in Biegel. High effort, great character, decent athleticism. Still, 108 does not misrepresent his “potential”. It is about right.

    He is a red-shirt SENIOR who started 3 years and has no lingering injury issues and no off field issues and who played in a 3-4 and is going to another 3-4 and is even staying in the same state he went to college in. Is that really such a “gamble”? I can’t really picture a pick that would be less risky and less a gamble.

    Two things I find intriguing:

    1. Packers had top pick in round 2 and top pick in round 4 so they had both, BOTH, draft overnights to work a trade and increase a bidding war. They obviously wanted to, at least with the round 2 pick, as they even demeaned themselves by putting out the rumor they would draft Kizer. Yet they were unable to pull off a trade from those spots….

    2. This site has put out article after article on Biegel. What up? Hey, Kyler Fackrell was drafted at the same position last year but in round 3 and you were not falling all over yourselves to crown him a steal or a premiere pass rusher. Is it the Wisconsin thing? Or an attempt to distract from the failures that were all the Packer picks following Biegel?

  2. Deepsky May 8, 2017

    Everyone’s falling over Biegel because he’s a Wisconsin guy.

    But anyone who followed Wisconsin sports knows that the main knock against him is that he can’t stay healthy, followed by him being small. He’s probably better than TJ Watt, who is also MUCH smaller than his brother JJ. But Biegel got dinged up during rookie ORIENTATION for gosh sakes. How did he hurt it!? Shaking hands!?!

    Now the Packers are going to be stuck with a guy who will flash occasionally, the fans will love him, and he’ll take up roster space for 3 years until they get sick of him being in IR.