Jake Ferguson Could Have a Massive 2021 Season
2020 went about as badly as it could have gone for the Wisconsin Badgers. After a season opener in which redshirt freshman QB Graham Mertz played nearly perfectly, things went downhill immediately after a Covid-19 diagnosis for both Mertz and his backup QB Chase Wolf. This led to the cancellation of games against Nebraska and Purdue, and when Mertz returned, he was not nearly the player he was against Illinois.
Covid inevitably had an effect on an underwhelming 4-3 finish for the Badgers, but one player seemed unfazed. After both Jonathan Taylor and Quintez Cepheus left the program for the 2020 NFL Draft, someone needed to step up on the offense. Tight end Jake Ferguson was that man. With just half the amount of games, Ferguson’s production was nearly identical in 2020 as it was in 2019. Here are the numbers:
2019- 14 games, 33 receptions, 407 yards, 2 TDs
2020- 7 games, 30 receptions, 305 yards, 4 TDs
Ferguson was Mertz’s favorite target throughout the 2020 season, and with that continuity (not to mention no issues with a global pandemic) Ferguson could see some of the more eye-popping stats in all of college football. His athleticism and explosiveness on his routes are easily his best traits. He recorded a 4.75 40-yard dash and 35-inch vertical in high school, and four years later, he is much larger while still retaining much of the same athletic ability.
That said, Ferguson still needs to improve as a blocker. Being as explosive as he is, it makes up for a lot of his flaws, but he is not nearly consistent enough in this regard. With a 6’5, 250-pound frame, Ferguson has all the potential in the world to become a strong blocking tight end. Despite his flaws, Wisconsin has put him in a ton of blocking situations, especially when Jonathan Taylor was a Badger.
Ferguson’s draft stock could go through the roof if he manages to eclipse 500 yards and 5 TDs this season. There is no Kyle Pitts in this draft class, nor is there commonly a tight end of that stature. The position feels very wide open for the taking, and with an ever-growing emphasis on receiving TEs in the NFL, Ferguson could be in high demand come April. At any rate, all incoming tight ends will have their flaws. If blocking is going to be Ferguson’s, so be it. As long as he makes up for it with continued growth as a receiver, he will still be wanted in the NFL.