Mason: Injury to Beckum hurts stock

first_imgThere have been many questions asked about this year’s Wisconsin football team. After Saturday, at least one — when will they finally get a Big Ten win? — was answered.Others have popped up throughout the course of the season: Who will be the starting quarterback? How many carries in the backfield will be split? Why can’t the defense stop anybody?But one question seems to have been asked less frequently — although it’s certainly one worth asking: Did Travis Beckum make a mistake by staying for his senior season?Beckum suffered a season-ending leg injury in the third quarter of Wisconsin’s win over Illinois and didn’t return to action, meaning his time at UW is officially over. He finished with 159 career receptions, third-most in school history.The senior tight end also missed two games earlier this year due to a hamstring injury — the first two of the season against Akron and Marshall. For the All-American from Milwaukee, durability has proven to be an issue.As if battling injuries wasn’t enough, Beckum had to deal with a change at quarterback midway through the season. As a result, he saw a decrease in production from a year ago. He failed to find the end zone, and had just 23 catches for 264 yards on the season — one grab less than fellow tight end Garrett Graham, who leads the team.Many fans were excited when Beckum announced he would return to UW for his senior season, putting his dream of playing in the NFL on hold. It was a bit of a surprising move, given that experts had projected him to be the first tight end selected.Even with the Badgers having a down year, many — such as ESPN’s draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay — still have Beckum rated as one of the top tight end on their pre-draft boards. Beckum’s six-catch performance against the Ohio State Buckeyes in a close loss certainly helped his cause. He followed up the OSU game by catching five passes for 79 yards.But has Beckum looked like a lock to go in the first round throughout the 2008 season? Not really.This season, he hasn’t hauled in more than six passes in a game. In back-to-back contests against Michigan State and Illinois a year ago, he caught 11 and 10 passes, respectively. In Columbus, he caught nine balls for 140 yards and a touchdown.We just haven’t seen those types of dominating games from Beckum this year.Looking across college football, a handful of tight ends have been increasing their draft stock. Travis Beckum is not one of them.A year after the Badger senior would have likely been the first tight end picked, he’s seen his stock fall a bit. Missouri’s Chase Coffman is projected by some to go in the top 10, and it seems everyone agrees the Tigers’ big man (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) is a better fit as a true tight end compared to the leaner Beckum (6-4, 235).Of course, Coffman has had some guy named Chase Daniel throwing him the ball this year, while Beckum had Allan Evridge and Dustin Sherer trying — often unsuccessfully — to pass to him.Coffman isn’t the only one that’s put up good numbers. Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham already has seven TD snags, while Houston’s Mark Hafner has caught 52 passes for eight touchdowns. These two, along with Coffman, are currently ranked as the top three tight end prospects by Rivals.com.Where does Beckum sit on that list? All the way down at No. 9.There was obviously no way for Beckum to predict a devastating injury like this from taking place. It also wasn’t easy to foresee the Badgers struggling as much as they have in 2008. But what wasn’t hard to predict was where Beckum would have gone in last April’s NFL draft. Now things aren’t so certain.The decision to return to UW may have been a sign of loyalty on Beckum’s behalf, and he may have done it in hopes of a national championship.Today, however, the Badgers are about as far away as they can get from a championship bid, and a banged-up Beckum isn’t exactly a first-round lock anymore.Looks like someone should have taken the money and run.Tyler is a senior majoring in journalism. Think Beckum made the right choice by sticking around for his senior season? Let Tyler know at tmason@badgerherald.com.last_img read more