Wisconsin and Duke clash Monday night with the NCAA basketball national championship at stake, and the NCAA's elite teams on the hardwood will have their share of contributions for the 2015 NFL Draft, as well. Which will have the stronger presence in the draft?
Give that edge to Wisconsin. Not only is running back Melvin Gordon the only likely first-round pick between the schools, but offensive tackle Rob Havenstein is a likely second-day choice who NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein believes "has the tools to be a starting right tackle." Duke's top prospect, guard Laken Tomlinson, figures to be picked between Gordon and Havenstein.
Here are the top draft prospects from both schools, ranked in the order they'll likely be selected in the April 30-May 2 draft:
The undisputed top prospect between these two schools, Gordon could be an instant impact in the backfield for a number of teams who are in need at the position, including the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, and Dallas Cowboys. He's already made pre-draft visits to at least two of those teams. If Gordon goes ahead of Georgia's Todd Gurley, he'll be the first running back drafted in the first round since three were picked in 2012.
As surely as Gordon is the best prospect on either the Wisconsin or Duke roster, Tomlinson is the second-best. A bullish guard with four years of starting experience in college, Tomlinson's performance at the Senior Bowl helped establish him as one of the draft's elite guard prospects. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock views Tomlinson as the third-best interior lineman available, behind only two first-round candidates.
Havenstein is a massive tackle (6-7, 321 pounds) who projects better on the right side than the left in the NFL. Like Tomlinson, Havenstein was a longtime starter at the college level and blocks with more brute force than athleticism. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis sees Havenstein as a second-day draft choice and placed him on the draft's All-Underrated team.
A 5-foot-9, 174-pound dynamo who can take short passes a long way and return kicks and punts as well, Crowder will bring some excitement wherever he goes. Unfortunately for him, he'll be stuck behind a lengthy line of talented wide receivers who are bigger, stronger, and just as fast or faster. As such, his draft party could last awhile.
Figure Cofield to be a late-round pick or an undrafted free-agent pickup, primarily because of his slow footwork.
Notable: Two other Wisconsin draft prospects, tight end Sam Arneson and offensive guard Kyle Costigan, decided not to pursue a pro football career.