Could Nick Herbig be the next TJ Watt?

Wisconsin Football has had its fair share of top-notch pass rushers over the years, and Nick Herbig could end up being the best of the bunch.

Over the years, Wisconsin football has been known for two things: producing elite running backs and offering stingy defenses.

It feels like Wisconsin produces NFL running backs every 2-3 years, and Braelon Allen looks like next after his breakout season in 2021.

On defense, the Badgers typically have elite pass rushers and linebackers. The most famous recent example of this would be TJ Watt, who was a monster in Wisconsin in 2016.

In fact, according to the PFF, he was the second-highest passing rushing edge rusher, behind only Joe Schobert in the season before Watt broke out. That all changed in 2021 when Nick Herbig had a monster and became Wisconsin’s all-time best graded edge rusher.

Herbig finished with the highest score for an edge rusher after posting 61 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 13 games. This was also his first full year as a starter for the Badgers – similar to Watt’s first full season as a starter in 2016.

While he’s not quite Watt’s height, three inches shorter and about 23 pounds lighter, could he be the next Wisconsin edge rusher to take the NFL by storm?

Watt has become one of the brightest stars in the league, following in his older brother JJ’s footsteps. He’s an almost unstoppable force for the Steelers, and the former first-round pick is living up to his immense potential. Herbig seems to be on a similar path, but I could see him flying a little more under the radar in next year’s draft due to his size.

Herbig will be in contention for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year title and I would envision him leaving early to pursue an NFL dream and create a roster in 2023. But being lauded via a PFF rating as the next TJ Watt seems a bit drastic. That would be a hot shot.

However, I believe he has a bright future ahead of him and the 2022 season will turn many heads as scouts will drool over his potential.

Wisconsin will send another edge rusher to the NFL in the form of Herbig, and that will only help recruit efforts at the position.

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