Ted Thompson usually isn’t infatuated by Wisconsin Badgers football players for some odd reason. In his nine year tenure as general manager of the Packers, Thompson never drafted a single player from the campus in Madison until yesterday. Green Bay drafted three wide receivers in this year’s class: Devonta Adams of Fresno State, Jeff Janis of Saginaw Valley State, and Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin. History was made. Thompson plucked a Badger, and drafted one for the franchise for the first time since 2001 (offensive lineman Bill Ferrario).
Abbrederis joins a crowded group of talented receivers that already include top-tier players Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, followed by emerging youngster Jarret Boykin. But after being a walk-on migrating from Wautoma, Wis., Abbrederis isn’t discouraged by another tough challenge ahead.
"Obviously, you have to work for everything in front of you." Addrederis said Saturday while with his family shortly after being drafted. "I'm excited for the opportunity. They've got a lot of great wide receivers there right now. I'm just excited to be a part of that group. They do a great job of building up wide receivers."
Last year, the 6-foot-1, 195 pound wide out hauled in 78 passes, accumulating 1,081 yards with seven scores. The Badgers have struggled under center the last two seasons, making his production even more impressive.
With limited space in the Packers’ receiving rotation, he’s more likely to be returning kicks in his first season. At Wisconsin, he set the school record for kickoff return average (25.8) and ranks No. 5 all-time in punt return average (10.7).
"I'll do whatever they ask me to do," Abbrederis said. "Whether that’s running down on kickoffs, catching punt returns, returning, whatever it may be, I’ll do whatever they ask."
"He'll definitely have an opportunity (in the return game)," Coach Mike McCarthy said.
"His first couple of years, he did everything but sell hot dogs down there." Thompson said. "He did all the returning on kicks and punts, and then you watch him play his junior and senior year and every game they played, the opponents in the Big Ten, quality corners are on him and he still gets open, he still catches the ball and he still runs with it. We think he’s a very versatile guy. I think he’s got some return ability, especially when he was younger there at Wisconsin. We’re anxious."
The next time Jared Abbrederis returns to Lambeau Field, it will be for work. He hasn’t been back at the stadium since he watched the team as just a sophomore in high school seven years ago. And now he’s playing for the team he grew up watching and only dreamt of playing for.
"Realizing my dream to play in the NFL, and on the Packers, which was my team growing up. That's who I rooted for. I'm excited. It's been a long time of taking off of football. I'm excited to get back at it."