The selection was especially interesting, because the Broncos appear committed to entering the 2018 regular season with very little experience at the tight end position, which should give Fumagalli a chance to compete for playing time.
Here are some of the questions we had for Kocorowski who has watched a lot of games Fumagalli has contributed in.
What is the best pro comparison for Troy Fumagalli and his game?
I know Lance Zierlein compared Fumagalli to Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Ben Koyack in his NFL Draft and Combine profile, with B5Q’s Owen Riese drawing parallels between Anthony Fasano and the former Wisconsin walk-on. Personally, I feel like he’s a mixture of Fergie and Jesus.
Joking aside, I remember him telling reporters last spring before his senior year that he would watch film of what Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce. I think he’s a player that can do a lot of what you want a standard tight end can do. He has great catching ability, can block well and is a consistent, dependable player.
When was Fumagalli at his best in college? Run blocker, chain mover, red zone target?
I’d say a little bit of everything, and that’s what earned him All-America and All-Big Ten honors. He blocked well and knew his assignments in the run game as part of an offense featuring a nearly 2,000-yard rusher in true freshman Jonathan Taylor, but he was also that reliable target in the passing game. He showed up in big games against LSU, Ohio State and the New Year’s Six bowl win against Western Michigan back in 2016, He led the team in receptions last year (46), and though he averaged under 12 yards per reception in 2017, he could get the team first downs and be depended upon to catch a pass that came his way.
Even towards the end of last year in the Orange Bowl against Miami, he didn’t catch a pass until the fourth quarter (didn’t really need to with how well Wisconsin’s young receivers were playing), but he made three catches on a key touchdown drive in those final 15 minutes--two for first down--that capped the scoring and secured a big time bowl win.
What’s an ideal role for him at the next level?
When healthy, I’m really intrigued to see what he could do on Sundays. He wasn’t able to really show much prior to the draft in January outside of some Senior Bowl practices due to that sports hernia injury, but then again, as Owen and I have discussed privately, his film really said it all. He flashed in the 2017 Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan with a diving one-handed catch to move the chains in the first quarter of that win, along with a leaping grab in the end zone in the final quarter.
Is he Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski? Nope, but he can go in motion, make key blocks in two-tight end situations, and be a consistent contributor that combines his physical skill set with his ability to grasp and execute his assignments.
What’s he like as a teammate/leader on the team?
He was named one of the team captains last season, and when teammate and fellow former walk-on turned team captain Jack Cichy blew out his ACL during summer camp, he honored his injured friend by wearing his No. 48 in the season opener against Utah State (and proceeded to reel in five catches for 105 yards with a touchdown).
That’s just one example of what he can bring to the locker room. He’s a hard-working player who will be a great presence on the team.
When Badgers fans look back on Troy, how will they remember him? What will they say?
Fumagalli will be regarded as one of the top tight ends to come out of the program in recent memory, joining former Badgers at that position who made it to the NFL in the past 15 years (Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks and Travis Beckum are others who have made it under the direction of Paul Chryst in his offensive scheme).
Not only that, but he is another testament to Wisconsin’s storied walk-on tradition (I should know, as I wrote a book about Badgers walk-ons nearly two years ago #SorryCheapPlug). A kid who took a chance and knew he would get an opportunity, just didn’t know when. When he did, he took advantage of it and became one of the most well-rounded tight ends in some time.
For me, I’ll also remember him for being responsive, willing to speak with and respectful to the media.