MADISON - Welcome to the sixth round of the NFL Draft, unofficially presented by the University of Wisconsin.
After a quiet day first and second round on Saturday where no Badgers were selected for the first since 1996, All-American kicker Taylor Mehlhaff, defensive tackle Nick Hayden and wide receiver Paul Hubbard were all taken within mere minutes of each other Sunday afternoon in the sixth round of the annual NFL Draft in New York.
Mehlhaff was the No. 178th overall selection and the 12th pick in the sixth round by the New Orleans Saints, Hayden was selected shortly after Mehlhaff by the Carolina Panthers with the 181st pick overall and Hubbard was the 191st pick by the Cleveland Browns.
Mehlhaff, who finished second on UW’s all-time scoring list with 295 points, was the first kicker taken in the draft and the second specialist overall behind punter Durant Brooks from Georgia Tech. Mehlhaff leaves Wisconsin as the school leader with 145 PATs, 148 PAT attempts and extra point percentage (.979).
Hayden, a three-year starter on the defensive line, was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last year, finishing sixth on the team with 48 tackles and third with 4.5 QB sacks.
Although missing five of the team’s first seven games to begin the 2007 season, Hubbard ended the year with 14 catches for 305 yards in eight games and will line up with former Badger All-American Joe Thomas in Cleveland, who was the third overall pick in last year's draft and is currently the starting left tackle for the Browns.
Mehlhaff wasn’t the first Badger to be selected Saturday as injured-cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles as the 131st overall pick (the 32nd selection in the fourth round).
Ikegwuonu led the team in pass breakups (16) last season and finished the season with 24 tackles in 13 games played. Ikegwuonu left Wisconsin with one year of eligibility remaining on January 7, signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus on January 11 and saw his draft stock plummet from being a potential early second-round pick after suffering a serious knee injury on January 22.