Little kids and, hey, maybe some of the adults in Wautoma have looked up to Jared Abbrederis for years. As the star high school quarterback, the Badgers breakout star and, maybe in a few months, as an NFL draft pick.
“I’m sure they’ll be almost as excited as me, if that’s possible,” said Abbrederis. “Being a small town, they’re very supportive.”
The former Wisconsin wide receiver is spending the week in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, trying to catch a pro team’s eye. A guy with a self-described “underdog mentality,” Abbrederis is used to exceeding expectations. He walked on at Wisconsin, only to leave the school tied for the all-time lead in catches.
Now he faces more questions: is he fast enough? Is he big enough? Where does he fit in? Former teammates think some NFL team is going to get a steal.
“He’ll go up, he’ll contest the ball,” said former Badgers tight end Jacob Pedersen. “I think he’s faster than most people think. He can stretch [defensive backs] and make them work harder. He’s just a great competitor and I think he’ll be real successful.”
Abbrederis figured to hear his name called during this year’s NFL Draft at some point. Strong workouts could bump him up a round or two.
“How fast he runs and how he works out will really say a lot about his athleticism,” said former NFL scout and current NFL.com writer Bucky Brooks. “If he comes out as an average-to-above-average athlete, I think he has an opportunity to be a guy that goes on day two [of the draft]. At the worst, fourth round.”
Abbrederis says, of course, he’ll be happy with the chance to play for any NFL team. The Packers, though, hold a special place with him; you can tell when he talks about the players he models his own game after.
“One guy who’s out of the league now, Donald Driver,” said Abbrederis. “I love the way he played the game, fearless going over the middle. Kind of how he grew up and then being drafted later. Also kind of Jordy Nelson, too. I love watching him, I love how he high points the ball, saves room for the quarterback to throw and just takes pride in his route running as well.”