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‘It’s been a long journey:’ Wisconsin players now days away from learning NFL draft fates

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BROWN DEER -- The 2020 NFL draft features a few Wisconsin Badgers players who are expected to hear their names called, becoming professional football players by the weekend.

Running back Jonathan Taylor owns one of the most impressive resumes in Badgers history, and he is among the UW and state players awaiting his football fate.

Jonathan Taylor (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

"It's been a long journey," Taylor said. "Been about three seasons at the University of Wisconsin. Great teammates surrounding me. Great leaders surrounding me all three years. To going to Phoenix, Arizona training at EXOS with top guys around the country competing to get better. Now you're here at this point."

Quintez Cephus (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Quintez Cephus isn't particularly fast, but the receiver does have translatable skills to the pro-level. His Badgers teammate Tyler Biadasz, a center, projects as an interior lineman in the NFL, as does Michigan guard Ben Bredeson -- an Arrowhead High School grad.

A pair of quarterbacks from the state -- Menomonie and the University of Iowa's Nate Stanley and Ashwaubenon's James Morgan from Florida International -- expect to be selected on Saturday.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Zack Baun -- who played at Brown Deer High School and UW-- is the headliner. Despite a diluted sample at the NFL scouting combine, he is going to be selected early in the draft process. He has made himself into a player. It is 107 miles from his high school stadium to the nearest NFL stadium -- Soldier Field, by the way, not Lambeau Field -- but that is nothing compared to the figurative journey that Baun's been on to reach this point.

Zack Baun (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

"Just being from Wisconsin and the development program that I have had throughout my journey has really helped," he said. "As I matured on the field, I matured off it as well. I turned into a great man and credit to Wisconsin for teaching me the values and to work hard. To be driven. To be dependable."

Fellow Badgers linebacker Chris Orr gets a lot done on the field, but is undersized for the NFL. Penn State defensive lineman Rob Windsor is the rare prospect from Fond du Lac.

There will be a different feel to this year's draft but as usual, it will have a Wisconsin flavor to it.

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