With the 108th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft the Green Bay Packers selected hometown talent Vince Biegel. The former Wisconsin Badger outside linebacker will bring a lot of juice to Green Bay’s defense.
Earlier this spring I sat down with Biegel and discussed the potential of him coming to Green Bay and playing for the Packers, a team he grew up rooting for. I re-posted the interview below.
Enjoy what the Wisconsin kid has to say. He’s a passionate individual and that’s evident in his answers to my questions.
Just about every kid playing Pop Warner football in Wisconsin dreams of some day donning the Green and Gold and taking the field on Sunday as a Green Bay Packer.
Former Wisconsin Badger linebacker and now 2017 NFL Draft prospect Vince Biegel could see this dream become a reality this spring. Similar to former Packers great and local kid, Mark Tauscher, Biegel grew up in central Wisconsin and then went on to Madison to play for the University of Wisconsin.
While it would make for a fantastic story for Biegel to continue his football career in the state of Wisconsin, in all reality the former Badger defensive captain would be a great fit for any team in the NFL.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound linebacker is a tough, versatile, and explosive athlete. After starting three and a half seasons at outside linebacker in the Badgers 3-4 defense, Biegel leaves Wisconsin ranked No. 7 in school history with 21.5 career sacks and No. 10 in tackles for loss with 39.5.
Biegel was also the defensive captain of one of the top defenses in the nation in 2016, while finishing second amongst all outside linebackers in college football in quarterback pressures with 51.
Now, with the NFL Draft only months away and the NFL Combine quickly approaching, Biegel is preparing to begin his professional career. The Wisconsin native is widely regarded by draft analysts and scouts as one of the better 3-4 outside linebackers in the upcoming draft class.
His first-step quickness, athletic bend on the edge, and relentless motor make him a dynamic pass rusher and a player a team like the Packers should consider selecting this April.
Because of his natural fit in the Packers 3-4 scheme and his intriguing story as a Wisconsin kid, I recently sat down with Biegel to get his thoughts on his career as a Badger, his process of preparing for the upcoming draft, and the potential of playing for the team that he cheered for as a kid.
Q. You had good career for the University of Wisconsin, and you were also a standout linebacker at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids. What specifically got you started playing the linebacker position?
Biegel: It really starts back from my roots. My father played college football at BYU and was a middle linebacker. Growing up I always played linebacker, even going all the way back to Pop Warner football back on Wisconsin Rapids field. My dad really coached me into being a linebacker and it was a position I really enjoy playing. Also growing up, I wanted to be like my dad. I think that’s where my linebacking trait and instincts come from.
Q. Would you say your dad is one of your bigger influences when it comes to football?
Biegel: Definitely. Without question. My father was not only a huge influence on me on the field, but he was also a huge influence off the field. He’s a great family man and a good person in the community. He was always my Pop Warner coach growing up. In high school, he actually helped me break down film and read keys. Some of those early lessons I had with my dad translated to my play in college.
Q. You had a really good career at Lincoln, earning all-state honors, and you were a four-star recruit and the top-ranked player in Wisconsin coming out of high school. What made you ultimately decide to go to the University of Wisconsin?
Biegel: There were a lot of factors that went into my recruiting process in high school. At the end of the day it came down to two schools—BYU and Wisconsin. I have a lot of roots at BYU. My dad played there, and my uncle, T.D., also played there. My grandfather, Ken Biegel, was actually a coach there. There was definitely a strong pull for me to go to BYU. I’m also LDS, so I seriously considered it. But, Wisconsin at the time was coming off two Rose Bowls, and it was a place I grew up in. I understand the people here. There’s something special to say about a guy who plays for his hometown and represents not just himself and his family, but the state of Wisconsin. That was what I wanted to do. I wanted to represent the great people of Wisconsin. I wanted a chance for my family and friends to come watch me play every single week at Camp Randall. I remember going to a few games at Camp Randall as a kid, and I always wanted the opportunity to play there one day. It was definitely a dream come true to be a Badger. I also wanted to go to Wisconsin to be a good influence. As a Mormon kid, I wanted to go to Wisconsin and be a good example, not just on the field but off the field as well.
Q. You had a great career at UW-Madison. As a Wisconsin kid, what did your time being a Badger mean to you?
Biegel: The games we won were amazing. We were able to carry on the Badger tradition of winning here. However, it wasn’t the games we won that was the best part. It was the relationships I was able to build. Wisconsin is a special place and they have a special brand and type of player they bring in to play for Wisconsin. A guy that’s not necessarily a four or five-star recruit, but a guy that works hard. A guy that brings the lunch pale mentality. That culture at Wisconsin made my time special there. It was the relationships I built with my teammates and coaches. Wisconsin will always be my home.
Q. Over the past few years, Wisconsin has produced some excellent linebacker talent. Joe Schobert was drafted by the Browns last year and Chris Borland was a standout rookie for the 49ers back in 2014. And then there’s T.J. Watt and yourself, who are both highly regarded prospects in this year’s draft. What’s been the secret with you guys? What has caused the recent influx of linebacker talent at UW?
Biegel: I know Penn State is known as the Linebacker-U, but my teammates and I used to joke around that Wisconsin is actually the Linebacker-U. I think the linebacker success does stem back to players like Chris Borland, Ethan Armstong, and Mike Taylor, guys who really paved the way and laid the foundation. I looked up to those guys as players when I first got to Wisconsin. It was my duty as a Badger linebacker to carry on that tradition. We also had tremendous coaching from Dave Aranda, Justin Wilcox, and my position coach Tim Tibesar. Those are the people behind the scenes that allow us to pin our ears back and play on with success on Saturdays. Also, in the offseason our linebacking corps pushed one another. We had a great work ethic and in the offseason we held each accountable.
Q. Many draft analysts speak highly of you as a pro prospect, but for those that may not be familiar with your collegiate career, tell us a little bit about your game. What is your style of play? What are your strengths as a linebacker?
Biegel: I’m a young man who loves the game of football. I was born into a football family and football literally runs through my blood. I’m not the type of player who will be loafing. I give everything I got on every single rep. I’m a great teammate. I was able to be the team captain this past year, and it was personally my biggest accomplishment as a football player. I was able to go out on the football field and represent my team with pride. As far as my skills on the field, I feel I’m a great pass rusher. I’m a hard worker. I have good run defense. I’ve showed versatility. I’ve played outside linebacker and some snaps I’ve moved to inside linebacker. I’ve played 4i. I’ve played in a nickel spot as well. I’m versatile. I’m a smart player and I’m eager to learn. I believe my passion for the game is what separates me. I love the game of football and it’s done more for me than I can do for it.
Q. Your versatility is something that stands out on tape. Where do you see yourself fitting best at the next level? Rushing the passer as a 3-4 outside linebacker or playing off the ball as a 4-3 linebacker?
Biegel: I’ll play in any system. My first year in college I played in a 4-3, so I understand the responsibilities of a Sam, Mike, and Will. However, my last few years in college I played in a 3-4. Whatever the system is I feel confident I can play any linebacker position. However, I am a little biased. I do love the 3-4 defense. We had tremendous results with it at Wisconsin. The outside linebacker in a 3-4 is the playmaker and he’s a guy that is given the opportunity to win the one-on-ones and impact the game. I like that type of pressure on myself. I like to be able to make big plays for my team, whether it’s in the pass rush, in coverage, or against the run. I do love being a pass rusher and the versatility being a 3-4 outside linebacker allows you.
Q. Even though one of your best attributes is rushing the passer, do you think you could play inside linebacker in a 3-4 if a team needs it?
Biegel: Yes, definitely. That is something I’m pretty comfortable with as well. As a former Wisconsin linebacker, we pride ourselves in being versatile and being hard workers and able to adapt to anything being asked of us. We’re smart, tough, and dependable players.
Q. I know being a Wisconsin kid you grew up watching the Packers. On film, I see flashes of Clay Matthews in your game, especially when it comes to athleticism off the edge and burst off the snap. Have you taken some inspiration from Matthews or is it just coincidental you’re similar type of athletes with similar builds?
Biegel: I definitely watched Clay growing up. However, in high school I actually played more middle linebacker. But, I have watched film on Clay, but I have also watched guys like Von Miller, Tamba Hali, and Lawrence Taylor. They’re all 3-4 outside linebackers and each one brings a different flare to the game. I can’t really compare myself to one or the other, but I try to take pieces from each of their game and apply it to my own, whether it’s Hali’s technique, Matthews’ big-play ability, Miller’s pass rush, or Taylor’s relentlessness to the ball.
Q. The Draft is only a couple months away. This spring you’ve had the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine is coming up, and then there’s your pro day. What can you do this spring to get the attention of NFL scouts and improve your draft stock?
Biegel: There’s a lot of things you can do as a player to bump up your draft stock. For me, it’s all about just going out there and showing scouts consistency. With the Senior Bowl, I just wanted to go out there have a great week. I wanted to be able to show my pass rush ability and show I can stack up against some of the top senior prospects in the class. With the Combine and pro day, I really enjoy these type of events. I love going out and competing. I just want to go out there and compete against my peers and put up good numbers and we’ll let the chips fall where they may. I’m excited, and I feel the best is yet to come for me. I’m a player that’s very positive, and I think my career is only just starting. I want a team that will draft me and believe in me. I’m going to put everything I have into the team that selects me. I could not be more excited right now. It’s a stressful process, but it’s a process I’ve dreamed about since I was young kid playing football on the Wisconsin Rapids field. This is what it is all about.
Q. At this point, do you have any inclination on where you could maybe go in the draft, or are you a guy that tries not to worry about projections?
Biegel: We have so many stresses in our lives already to worry about stuff like that. I have no control over who picks me up. I have a lot of other things to worry about. Whoever picks me up, I’m excited to start that relationship and start the process. I truly haven’t given any thought or energy to where I could go. I truly believe in my ability and I know the Lord has a great plan for me. I’m just excited to start the journey. I’ll say this, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my time at Wisconsin. I dealt with some injuries this pas year, but through all that, I feel I’ve not only become a better person but also a better football player. I’ve learned a lot about myself. Coming back for my senior year, I became a smarter player and I matured.
Q. I know last year you had to decide to declare for the draft early or return to school for your senior year. Is it difficult as a player to ignore all of the draft media buzz out there and not think about where you project to the NFL?
Biegel: There’s a lot of mock drafts out there and people guessing where teams are drafting us. I’ll truly say this, I haven’t really bothered with looking at where people expect me to go. Because truthfully, they’re not the people who are making the decision. Mock drafts will change at least 100 times before the draft is here. I’d rather spend my energy on getting myself better. It’s so easy to get caught up in the media attention and see where you stack up, but what matters is for you to take care of your business on and off the field. When you do your job as a player, the rest will sort itself out.
Q. Obviously, we don’t know what will happen this spring, but we do feel you’re a player that would fit well with the Packers and meet a potential need on their roster. If Green Bay ended up being the team that drafted you this April, what would it mean to you to play for the Packers?
Biegel: Growing up I always dreamt about playing for the Packers. As a kid I wore my Brett Favre jersey. As a Wisconsin kid, you have those roots. Being able to get drafted by the Packers would be a dream come true, but honestly, being drafted in general would be a dream come true. I guess though where being drafted by the Packers would be special is I grew up a Wisconsin kid and then went to the University of Wisconsin to play college ball. To keep my football career in the state of Wisconsin would be something special. If the Packers picked me up it would mean a lot to my family as well and the community of Wisconsin Rapids.
Q. What could you bring to their defense?
Biegel: I’d be a good team leader. In college, I played all four phases of special teams. I started three-and-half years in college, so I have experience. I’m also a smart player. I know Dom Capers asks a lot of his players, and I’d be excited about that challenge. I think I’d be a great fit in the Packers 3-4 defense.
Q. Regardless of who drafts you, what will that moment mean to you when you finally hear your name called and you’re officially in the NFL?
Biegel: It’s going to mean a lot to me, but it’s about more than just myself. It’s also about all of the people who got me to where I’m at—all of the coaches, weight room staff, speed coaches, my entire family, friends, and community members. When a player makes it, it’s not just “he made it”. The people around him also made it. It takes a community to raise somebody. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounding by amazing people in Wisconsin Rapids and Madison. When I hear my name called, it won’t just be for me but also for all the people who helped me get to this point.
Q. When that moment arrives, who are the first people you are going to thank?
Biegel: Well, we first have to get to that moment. But, when that moment comes most importantly I want to thank my Heavenly Father for helping me get to where I’m at. I would also thank my mom and dad and my family members. I’d definitely give Coach Chryst, Gary Anderson, and Brett Belema phone calls. I’m sure I’ll also give my high school football coach a call, as well as all of my position coaches. Those were all people who have been huge influences in my life. It’s also not necessarily when you hear your name called “you made it”, but it’s just the next step. It’s what you do with that opportunity that is important. I plan on making the most of the opportunity.
Q. Finally, before we let you go just tell us a little bit more about yourself. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?
Biegel: I enjoy hunting in my free time. My father and I sometimes go down to Iowa to do some deer hunting. I’m also a big fitness guy, so I’ll enjoy any type of fitness activity. I’m also a big water sports guy, so I enjoy jet skiing. I grew up on Wisconsin rivers, so I like going fishing, jet skiing, or wake boarding. I also enjoy going down to the Florida Keys and doing some snorkeling and fishing down there. I’m a pretty textbook Wisconsin kid. I enjoy the outdoors.