Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Four Games an the Horizon and Everything Is On the Line

After that sloppy loss to Minnesota on Sunday evening, the 17-10 Wolverines are teetering back into desperation mode. We knew the Gophers were going to be a tough out, but they were clearly the better team in that game and deserved the win. Hand it to the Wolverines for never giving up and taking it to overtime after trailing most of the game, but don't deny the fact that this team lacks any quality depth and elite-level leadership at the moment. And one more loss will instantly put them right back to where they were two weeks ago - facing elimination from the NCAA tournament.

Realistically, it looks like this team is a year away from really making run at anything, with a healthy mixture of youth and experience returning for the 2017-2018 season. Senior point guard Derrick Walton Jr. has made a great effort offensively to keep this team hanging around nearly every game, but he has had lapses of motivation on defense along with some untimely mistakes with the ball in his hands that seem to be due to exhaustion. If he doesn't find a third wind here to finish this season on a strong note, then this team is done. The other senior leader, Zach Irvin, has had a terribly disappointing year, and very few people are hopeful that he can pull out of that slump to take this team to another level. If he does rise up to leave the college game with one last streak of big three-point shots, it would help alleviate some of the pressure off of Walton. Wilson and Wagner are young, rising players that are not quite leaders yet, but they will be counting on to be stars next year so anything could happen in the next few weeks. Both guys need to toughen up and play smarter defense. Abdur-Rahkman continues to put up numbers in the stat sheet, but he needs to be at least a third option in the offense to really be effective. In other words, he is not particularly a natural leader that plays with a lot passion.

One surprise player off the bench as of late has been Mark Donnal. Though he has occasionally peppered in some minutes over the course of the last two years, he has shown a bit of a fire off the bench in the last few contests that I haven't really seen much before. It makes me think he really wants to compete for something. He rarely takes a bad shot, and he has hit on four out of his last five attempts from the feild. He also has five rebounds, two blocks, and six points in the last three games. Not too bad for a big man getting less than 14 minutes per game off the bench. If he can help provide some toughness on defense down the stretch it will go a long way towards deciding the team's ultimate postseason fate.

At least one of the younger guys have begun to step up too. Freshman point guard Xavier Simpson has shown some spark and lot a of promise while playing about nine minutes per game. He has six assists, five rebounds, and one steal in the last four games. Look for him to get more quality minutes going forward.

I am still holding my hopes this team can make a run this year. Though the schedule is tough, it is not unbeatable. Luckily, tomorrow night's must-win road game is at 13-15 Rutgers, and their toughest opponent, Purdue, comes to the Crisler Center this Saturday. If they go 2-0 it will have them in control of their own destiny with road games at Northwestern and Nebraska to close out the season. Either way, the team needs to win three of those games to really impress anybody. Otherwise, it might be looking at an NIT invitation instead.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hot Streak Continues As Final Stretch Begins

During an ugly 10-9 run from November to February the Wolverines were one of the most unwatchable teams in the nation. They had no fire. They were boring. And they capped it all off with a February 4th home loss to Ohio State. As a fan I was left wondering if this program was beiginning to crumble out from underneath Coach Beilein. Had his stoic ways eroded any passion the players had? Where was that promising team that had an exciting run to the Big Ten Tournament semifinal last year? Nobody seemed to have an answer.

But that was two weeks ago.

On February 7th the team walked into the Crisler Center building and put up a game for the ages with a 29-point blowout of the rival Spartans. Since then they have added two more huge wins on the road at Indiana, where they rarely get a win, and at home against #11 Wisconsin, who they rarely ever beat. They are currently 17-9 and slowly rising up the conference ladder.

The differences of the team playing right now and the one that was just barely hanging in there a few weeks ago is simple - the leadership has emerged. You are seeing guys taking on their responsibilities "with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind" and you are seeing guys feeding off each other's energy. It's been fun, regreshing, and much-needed in regards to saving the season.

Despite having a rather quiet game against Wisconsin on Thursday night, PG Derrick Walton Jr. has scored 99 points in the last five games while looking exactly like the point guard that this program had envisioned him to be when they recruited him four years ago. He has hit key shots in key moments and he has been the catalyst that has kept this team together. G Mahammed-Ali Abdur Rahkman has averaged 12 points per game over the last four while also hitting 50% from three-point range. G/F Zack Irvin finally woke up from a slump in the win against the Badgers, hitting 50% from the field for 18 points. Six of those points came off big three-pointers after he had only hit on two of his previous 15 attempts from beyond the arc in the previous four games. F/C Moritz Wagner has been a much-needed spark plug on the floor. He seems to be gaining momentum as the season goes on, just as he did late last year. He has reached
double digit points in four out of the last five games while hitting on 46% of his 19 three-point attempts. He also pulled off a double-double at Indiana while taking down 10 rebounds and putting up 11 points. He is an emerging star. F D.J. Wilson, who has been the most-improved player on the team this year, He has hitting a whopping 49% from the field over the last five games. He too is a rising star. G/F Duncan Robinsson has been killing teams while shooting 59% from the field and 50% from three-point range over the last three games. His eight points per game off the bench have been huge. PG Xavier Simpson has been getting more game time too. He saw a lot of minutes against Michigan State and Indiana, hitting on four of five shots for nine points and three rebounds in those two contests. His defense has been solid too. F Mark Donnal has been decent at times in relief of Wagner and Wilson. He is averaging 64% from the feild, 46% from downtown, five points per game, and 2.5 rebounds per game on the season. That depth will be much-needed in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.


All hands will be needed on deck as the team cruises into the final five game stretch that includes four road games. They head to Minnesota tomorrow to play the 19-7 Gophers. Not an easy game, but it's very important as both teams are currently tied with a 7-6 conference record. Then it's a trip to the East Coast for a Wednesday night game at Rutgers. That's a more winnable game but could be a trap with #16 Purdue looming ahead on Saturday. They close the season on the road at Northwestern on March 1st and at Nebraska on the 5th. If they can win four out of those five it would be amazing, but anything less than a 3-2 record in that stretch would be enough to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament.

Can this hot streak continue? We shall see...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Basketball Team Showing Signs of Life After Being Left for Dead

It is amazing what a little desperation can do for team chemistry. Sometimes the weight of all the pressure can be crushing enough to cause a complete meltdown within the program, resulting in coaching firings and player transfers. For a great example of this just look back to the end of the Brady Hoke era in 2014. At other times, having their proverbial backs to the wall can bring out some emotion in a group of players, collectively raising their game to new heights.

Since the the Big Ten schedule started back on Janurary 1st, the UM men's basketball team has been inconsistent and completely boring at best. While posting a 5-6 conference record, they have struggled to find any sort of rhythm and have appeared lost on the court. The seniors have not provided the leadership that the roster needed, and the youngsters still looked like high school kids trying to play college ball. They all lacked any sense of urgency. It was ugly. Then they lost to their two biggest rivals in back to back games, one being a home loss to unranked Ohio State. As a result, the Wolverines find themselves on the outside looking in as a potential tournament team. And let's face it, there was nothing leading up to the month of February to make anybody think this team could compete among the top teams in the country.

Then came in-state rivals and perrenial basketball beast Michigan State to Crisler Arena on Tuesday night. And though the Spartans are experiencing their own troubles as a young, developing roster, hopes were not high for Michigan to pull out a crucial and much-needed win. They did manage to beat UM on their own court pretty handedly just a week earlier. And with confidence down it was being reported right before game time that there were still plenty of seats available. But despite a growing sense of negativity, the Wolverines exploded for one of their best games in John Beilein's 10-year career at Michigan - blasting MSU 86-57 while shooting 48% from the field.

What was the difference? Energy. Intensity. Emotion. It all showed up on Tuesday night and it never really wavered. D.J. Wilson even got charged with a technical foul for his celebration after a big dunk. Usually that type of play would upset Beilein, and it is surely against his coaching philosophy, but it was a much-needed display of fire and rage that this team desperately needs. And if this team wants any kind of chance at competing in the tourney next month, it will need more of that, despite what any coach might tell you.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Team Recruiting Rankings: Where Does Michigan Really Stand?

It's not debatable, recruiting matters. Why? Well, Alabama has consistently dominated the national recruiting scene over the last decade and look at the results - four national titles in eight years. Ohio State has been consistently near the top of the recuiting rankings, just behind Alabama, under both Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. They have made the playoffs twice in the last three years - winning it all in 2014. Recruiting matters. And those teams that can consistently produce the better haul of prospects finds themselves in good position to win championships year in and year out.

So where does this year's crop of Michigan recruits rank on the national scene? By all accounts, they are solidly in the top five. Alabama is the run-away winner with what could be one of the best classes ever assembled. Ohio State is solidly in second place with a group that is very top-heavy. Harbuagh and company come in third, just a hair ahead Georgia. The Wolverines and the Bulldogs both have two 5-Stars, but more 4-Stars are going blue. USC edges out FSU to round the top five.

Any way you dice it, these 10 teams definitely improved in the talent department this recruiting season:

  1. Alabama - 575 pts
  2. Ohio State - 560 pts
  3. Michigan - 547 pts
  4. Georgia - 538 pts
  5. USC - 520 pts
  6. Florida State - 518 pts
  7. Oklahoma - 505 pts
  8. LSU - 496 pts
  9. Florida - 489 pts
  10. Auburn - 478 pts


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blueprint 2017

Grading System:
  • 91-100 points - True "five-star", once in a generation-type of player with elite physical tools and brings a big-boy's game. These guys have a higher chance of contributing right away for most programs.
  • 81-90 points - The top of the four-star athletes, these guys are generally highly coveted by most big-time programs and can usually find a role on a team very quickly.
  • 71-80 points - This range of prospects consists of some of the four star prospects and upper echelon of the threes. These recruits have a high chance of being a contributing factor for most programs but may need a few years to develop. Believe it or not, most of the NFL is made up of guys in this range. Often, the guys that get these rankings are simply late-bloomers that need a little more time to grow.
  • 61-70 points - This range of prospects are players that will most-definitely need some time to work on their game and hit the weight room, but they can often develop into great players too. Many NFL players were once two-star recruits of this caliber.
  • 51-60 points - Predominantly not FBS level talent. Recruits that receive a ranking in this range are lacking physical maturity and elite skills, but might have just enough raw talent to be worthy of a scholarship somewhere. 
  • 50 or less - Division II and Juco prospects mostly. These guys typically lack the physical maturity to compete at the FCS or FBS levels.
Full list and analysis of all the incoming freshman for the class of 2017

Quarterback

Dylan McCaffrey 4-Star 6'5"/196lbs (Littleton, CO) Grade: 89 

The top player coming out of Colorado. One of the top arms in the country and an above average athlete at the position. He placed 7th in the Elite 11 Finals last summer and played in the Army Bowl in January. Still needs to develop physically, but has the frame to add more bulk. A couple years in the UM weight room will be very good for him. Has a high ceiling but he is not college-ready. So don't expect to see anything from him for at least a year, probably more.

Running Back

O'Maury Samuels  4-Star 5'11"/190lbs (Los Lunas, New Mexico) Grade: 80 

The top player coming out of New Mexico. An elite athlete with great speed. Doesn't have a true position and needs to develop his game at running back. Harbaugh loves these types of guys - reminds of a Chris Evans. Could turn out to be an explosive weapon. I expect him to redshirt while he gets his college legs under him, but if Harbaugh sees something in him early he won't hesitate to see if it produces on Saturdays.

Kurt Taylor  3-Star 5'9"/200lbs (Covinton, GA) Grade: 75 

More of a grinder that does a lot of things well than a speedster who can break one off on any given play.  Has a polished game and looks like he lives in the weight room. Could get playing time early in his career, but most people feel that he doesn't have a high ceiling. Doesn't really jump off the film at you, but he played against quality competition in Georgia. Kinda reminds me of former 3-Star Karan Higdon, who played high school ball in Florida.

Wide Receiver

Donovan Peoples-Jones  5-Star 6'2"/192lbs (Detroit, MI) Grade: 96 

The best pure athlete the team has recruited at the position in over a decade. Leads one of the best hauls of receivers in Michigan history. Could be an instant game-changer with all the athleticism and speed to light up any mismatches. Is enrolled early and will be on the field this spring. Should compete for playing time immediately.

Tarik Black  4-Star 6'4"/205lbs (Cheshire, CT) Grade: 85 

Great receiving prospect. Has all the length and athleticism you need to build around. Isn't a burner but is fast enough. Beat a lot of high school defenders on jump balls. Can play like a running back once the ball is in his hands. Could earn playing time early in his career. He is also already enrolled and will participate in spring practices.

Nico Collins  4-Star 6'5"/195lbs (Pinson, AL) Grade: 84 

A big-time steal right out of 'Bama's back yard. Fifth best player in the state of Alabama. With him committing and signing on National Signing Day this becomes the best group of receving prospects in the nation. Not the fastest kid, but has enough speed to go deep and he uses length well to position for the ball. Can get up over defenders and sheilds them on inside slants. Once he gets a little stronger he could be a very deadly weapon.

Oliver Martin  4-Star 6'1"/190lbs (Iowa City, IA) Grade: 83 

Nobody runs crisper routes than this kid. Came virtually out of nowhere in the last year and has rocketed up recruiting boards across the country. Made a lot of splash plays at The Opening last summer and fit right in at the Army Bowl. Possesses strong hands and a large catching radius. Can turn his body to adjust to the ball then make a nasty cut when it's in his hands. A frustrating player to have to cover all game. Will out-work defenders and beat them eventually.

Brad Hawkins  3-Star 6'1"/200lbs (Camden, NJ) Grade: 77 

Was originally in the 2016 class, but attended prep school for a year before joining the Wolverines. Does not possess the elite quickness that some of the other receiving prospects do. Plays the game tough. Wins jump balls and puts his shoulder down to initiate contact. Looks like a running back. Can break tackles and carry defenders for extra yardage. Has enough straight-line speed to break off a big play but will never be a true deep threat. Could play safety.


Offensive Line

Cesar Ruiz  4-Star OC 6'3"/315lbs (IMG Academy) Grade: 90 

A top 50 prospect and easily the best center available. Plays with a lot of pop and keeps his head on a swivel. Looks for defenders to hit and delivers a blow. Can drive-block but needs to work on his body a little bit. Is enrolled early and could play this fall. All-American material.

Chuck Filiaga  4-Star 6'6"/330lbs (Aledo, TX) Grade: 85 

Looks like a prototypical right tackle prospect with the potential to be great. Instantly improves the depth. Has massive hands, good arm length, and a large frame to hang more muscle upon. He doesn't need to get any bigger, but he does need to develop what he's got. Should be a starter sooner or later.

JaRaymond Hall  4-Star (Oak Park, MI) Grade: 81 

Slightly overlooked and underrated recruit by many outlets. Has a good, solid frame and loves to pancake defenders. Might need some time to bulk up but is enrolled early. Should help with depth right away and could play the left side.

Andrew Stueber  4-Star (Darrien, CT) Grade: 78 

Is considered a 3-Star by most publications but he is another underrated recruit that has slowly crept up the rankings. Impressed the coaches in camp last summer and the coaches have made it known that they "love his athleticism". Had offers from Tennessee, Penn State, and North Carolina, among others, which says he was indeed a coveted player on the national scene. Could help with depth right away. Could play defensive tackle too.

Joel Honigford  3-Star (Sugarcreek, OH) Grade: 77 

Solid offensive line recruit. Uses good technique and keeps working through the whistle. Might also be a little underrated and he could compete for backup job very soon. If he's the lowest rated line recruit you're hauling in then you're probably doing really well recruiting the position.


Defensive End

Luiji Vilain  4-Star (Alexandria, VA) Grade: 87 

A quick defender that plays with pop. Gets in the backfield and instantly dirupts the play. Made a lot of tackles for losses in high school. Should be competing for playing time right away at the weakside end position. Will be interesting to see how he develops. Could be an All-Conference player some day soon. Originally from Canada.

Deron Irving-Bey  4-Star 6'5"/280lbs (Flint, MI) Grade: 80 

A true strong-side end prospect that is just beginning to tap into his potential as a player. Has risen up the rankings quite a bit over the last year and a half. Said he didn't start taking football seriously until two years ago. Could be one of the real surprises of the cycle if is tuned into the coaches. He is a great physcial specimen who can run. Can lay some nasty hits. Was destroying high school opponents on any given play. His ceiling is very high.

Donovan Jeter  4-Star 6'5"/250lbs (Beaver Falls, PA) Grade: 80 

Is not unlike what Chris Wormley looked like as a recruit five years ago. Is big and athletic enough but still has a lot of room to grow. Is enrolled early. Would not be shocking to see him add 30 lbs of muscle in the next year. Could have gone to Notre Dame, Penn State, 'Bama, or Georgia if he wanted to, but fell in love with the Harbaugh way.

Corey Malone-Hatcher  4-Star  6'3"/246lbs (St Joseph, MI) Grade: 80 

Played most of his high school career in a two-point stance but definitely showed that he can play with his hand in the grass too. Also had offers from 'Bama, UCLA, Ohio State, and Sparty, among others. Was a big recruiter for the program in the months leading up to NSD. Plays with a solid base, good feet, and some hand quickness. Not really speed rusher but just a notch below what former Wolverines Brandon Graham and Lamar Woodley were at that age. Already on campus and working out with the team.

Kwity Paye  3-Star 6'4"/230lbs (Warwick, RI) Grade: 77 

The top player out of Rhode Island. One of the most underrated prospects in the entire nation. Displays very good quickness, vision, and power at the point of attack. His highlight reel is very entertaining, as he dominated the weaker competition on both offense and defense. Could play linebacker or running back but will get a chance to rush the passer from the weakside first. Helps make this one of the deepest group of ends in the nation.

Defensive Tackle

Aubrey Soloman 5-Star 6'3"/290lbs (Leesburg, GA) Grade: 97 

Is about as good of a defensive tackle prospect as you can ask for in any given cycle. Is one of the top 25 players coming out of high school who can go toe-to-toe with anybody. Played a lot of nose tackle in high school against good competition over the years and has been dominant. Possesses a lot of raw strength, athleticism, and a set of quick hands that helped put a lot of would-be teenage blockers on their backs. Will play immediately and could be a two-way player some day, as he has the hands and athleticism to play tight end or fullback.

James Hudson 4-Star 6'5" 290lbs (Toledo, OH) Grade: 82 

Considered a strong-side end prospect by most, but definitely has the makings of a good tackle. Has a big body and surprising athleticism. Can out-hustle opponents and bullied a lot of kids in Ohio. Is a rising player that could crack the rotation this fall. Could also be a quality candidate for the offensive line. Played both ways in high school and dominated either way. Looks country-strong with room to grow. Ohio State didn't offer him but he could've gone to plenty of Big Ten, SEC, and ACC schools, including 'Bama and Miami (FL). Was once committed to Kentucky.

Phillip Paea 3-Star 6'4"/285lbs (Berrien Springs, MI) Grade: 77 

One of the top six players in the state of Michigan. A solid prospect with a big body. Has a lot of natural strenght and power, but could be limited athletically. Has the frame to add more weight and become a real player for this team down the road. Chose Michigan over the likes of Notre Dame, Oregon, and USC.

Linebackers

Jordan Anthony 4-Star 6'0"/220lbs (IMG Academy) Grade: 86 

Played at a top program against top competition and played very well throughout the process. Was coveted by all the major programs and is widely considered among the top 100 prospects in the nation. Has a strong base and the ability to roam sideline to sideline. Also knows how to wait for his reads before committing himself. Made a lot of tackles for a loss. Could play any three of the linebacker spots but looks like a Will to me. Can also play running back.

Drew Singleton 4-Star 6'2"/215lbs (Paramus, NJ) Grade: 86 

A true outside linebacker prospect that could help fill in for the departed Jabrill Peppers immediately. Is still recovering from a knee surgery but should be ready to go full speed this summer. Has elite quickness and can deliver a nasty blow to ballcarriers. Should be a good passrusher off the blitz with the ability to sniff out screens, draws, and reverses.

Josh Ross 4-Star 6'2"/225lbs (Oak Park, MI) Grade: 82 

The number three player coming out of the state of Michigan completes the linebacker haul perfectly with his ability to play both the Mike and Will positions. Has a lot of pop and hits players head on. Held his own at The Opening last summer against all the elite athletes and had offers from the likes of Sparty and the Buckeyes. Overall, Ross helps this become the best group of linebackers assembled in the Big Ten conference for this recruiting cycle.

Ben Mason 3-Star 6'2"/245lbs (Sandy Hook, CT) Grade: 75 

Gives this class a lot of depth with his versatility. Could play both linebacker and fullback in his career at UM. Will be limited athletically but he is a big kid who plays with toughness. Is not unlike a Joe Bolden-type of prospect, though he is a bit bigger than Bolden was at this age.

Defensive Backs

Ambry Thomas 4-Star CB 5'11"/174lbs (Detroit, MI) Grade: 86 

The number two in-state player who is already enrolled. Possesses elite athleticism and can play offense or defense. Raised some eyebrows during The Opening last summer and has risen up the rankings into the top 100. Will improve the depth immediately and could earn a starting job if he's up to it.

Benjamin St-Juste 4-Star CB 6'3"/185lbs (Ceqep du Vieux, CA) Grade: 80 

Brings unique tools and a great skill-set to the position. Played in Canada and tested out well against all the big boys at The Opening last summer. Might need to work on his game for a year or two, but his ceiling is very high.

Jaylen Kelly-Powell 4-Star S 6'0"/180lbs (Detroit, MI) Grade; 80 

The best in-state safety and a top five prospect out of Michigan. Did play some corner but looks ideal for the cover safety spot that Delano Hill played last year. Is one of the early enrollees looking to get a jump start on his college career.

J'Marick Woods 3-Star S 6'3"/205lbs (Florence, AL) Grade: 77 

A tall safety prospect that can go up for jump balls downfield and is not afraid to come up to make a play at the line of scrimmage. Has a lot of upside but could take some time to develop. Wants to play right away and is enrolled early as well.

Punter

Brad Robbins  2-Star 6'2"/180lbs (Westerville, OH) Grade: 72 

Considered one of the best pure punting prospects in the nation. Got an offer from Harbaugh on NSD. Doesn't show much potential as a field goal kicker but could be a big player for the Wolverines in terms of playing for field position.


Line 'Em Up!

                                      S                                                                         S
                                Woods3-Star                                                     Kelly-Powell4-Star

  CB                                                                                                                             CB
Thomas4-Star                                  WLB                 MLB              SLB                   St-Juste4-Star
                                                 Anthony4-Star          Ross4-Star        Singleton4-Star                 

                                                                                                      Mason3-Star                            
                                         WDE              DT                        DT             SDE
                                      Vilain4-Star   Aubrey Soloman5-Star Hudson4-Star   Jeter4-Star
                                       Paye3-Star       Irving-Bey4-Star     Paea3-Star    Malone-Hatcher4-Star


     WR                                    LT              LG              C             RG              RT                WR
Peoples-Jones5-Star WR          Hall4-Star  Stueber3-StarRuiz4-Star Honigford3-Star   Filiaga4-Star    Black4-Star
                         Martin4-Star 
                                    Hawkins3-Star                                                              


                                                           FB             QB
                                                          N/A      McCaffrey4-Star


                                                                            RB
                                                                       Samuels4-Star
                                                                        Taylor3-Star


There are several Preferred Walk-On players too, but I will review them at another time.


2018 Positional Projections by the Numbers:

QB - 1
RB - 2
WR - 1
TE - 2
OL - 4
DL - 2
LB - 2
DB - 4

I see somewhere around 18 total signings for the calss of 2018, maybe less. With the large sizes of the last two classes I don't see the team being able to extend too many scholarships throughout the next cycle.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Michigan's Top Pro Prospects

Most non-starters and any first-year players are not included on this list, and there are definitely no freshmen. There simply isn't enough information on those guys like that yet to make an honest evaluation, and most of them are not even eligible to enter the draft anyway. Also, not all these guys will be declaring for the draft this year, so expect some guys come back to attempt raising their draft stock.

Jabrill Peppers #5
1. LB/DB Jabrill Peppers (RSo) - There is no better athlete and football player on the team right now, and there are very few in the country in his class. And although he did say he wasn't "leaving Ann Arbor without a degree", it would be hard to hold it against him if he does decide to come out after this year. He looks like a sure-fire first rounder who will blow scouts away in workouts. He is a natural defender with the strength to consistently play up in the box and the speed and quickness to make plays in deep space. He will probably be more of a safety in the pros, but playing linebacker, cornerback, or running back aren't out of the realm of possibilities either. He can return kicks too, having lead the nation in punt return yards. Projection: Top 15


Jourdan Lewis #6
2. CB Jourdan Lewis (Sr) - You won't find a better guy in coverage than Lewis, and he can stick a tackle on most ballcarriers. His size has been somewhat of a concern for pro scouts and it might keep him out of the first round. At worst he looks like a second rounder. Personally, I believe he has been the best player on the Michigan roster since his sophomore year. He will perform well at the combine too, mark my words, and some team picking late on day one will be willing to add him to thier roster. Projection: First Round
Taco Charlton #33

3. DE Taco Charlton (Sr) - Another guy that could go early, Charlton has all the size (6'6"/276lbs) and ability that the scouts are looking for in an end prospect. He has played second fiddle as a backup throughout his career - with only four starts to his resume before 2016, but he has always made the most of his opportunities. To top it all off, he just put up a big senior campaign that saw him nab nine sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss. He had his biggest game against rival Ohio State, in which he posted 2.5 sacks and three TFL's. That will get not get lost on NFL coaches and scouts. Projection: First Round 

Chris Wormley #43
4.  DL Chris Wormley (5th) - Has been an active defender as a strong-side end and tackle for the Wolverines over the last three years and he had a big senior campaign, posting 5.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, and two blocked kicks. He has the size (6'5"/300lbs), athleticism, and versatility that gets pro scouts excited. If all goes well for him between now and April he could go somewhere in the middle to late first round. He looks like a safe bet to at least go early in the second and I would consider him a steal in the third. If he shows off some natural strength and athleticism at the combine he could soar high on draft boards. Projection: Second Round


Jake Butt #88
5. TE Jake Butt (Sr) - No other tight end in the conference ran better routes or made plays on jump balls better than Butt over the last three years. He is sneaky fast with just enough speed to create space downfield and he adjusts very well to the ball. Most of his work comes in the short and intermediate range against linebackers and safeties but he possesses enough athleticism to make plays on the perimeter against good college corners. A selection in the late first round or early second seems probable, but a sub-par workout at the combine could drop him into the third. Projection: Jake Butt's draft projection is up in the air at this point due to the fact that he injured his knee in the Orange Bowl. It was rather a cheap low shot by an FSU player that was later ejected for targeting in the second half. Good thing Butt took out a $4 million insurance policy before the game. He will start collecting on some of it if he slides past the second round. 

5.  DT Maurice Hurst Jr. (RJr) - Not the biggest guy at 6'2"/285lbs, but he has a lot of quickness and a seemingly non-stop motor. He hasn't gotten as much of an opportunity to showcase his skills this year due to the abundance of talent along the line, but he still made a case for himself to enter the draft this winter. Like Cole, Hurst is another guy that would benefit from coming back for his final year of eligibility to prove that he can be a team leader and winner in his own right. If all goes well his stock could soar in 2018, thus earning him millions more than he would as a third or fourth round pick. Projection: Hurst is coming back for his final season of eligibility. With another good showing he could push himself into being a first round pick in 2018.

6. OC Mason Cole (Jr) - The Wolverines' best lineman has started every game at either left tackle and center since stepping foot on campus three years ago. Cole is a technician who understands the game and rarely makes the same mistake twice. He could be a first-round selection if he stays another year and keeps improving, but he has a shot at getting drafted early right now. Projection: Cole has opted to stay for another season. That is huge for a team that is looking quite thin on the line at the moment. He too could sniff the first round with a stellar senior campaign.


8. NT Ryan Glasgow (5th) - Isn't necessarily an imposing nose tackle at 6'3"/295lbs, but Glasgow is a lunchpail guy who possesses all the hustle, strength, and technique to be a disruptive on a any level of play. If he stays healthy and continues on his current trajectory he should go in the third round. Like his brother Graham, he has gone from a walk-on at Michigan to one of the best overall players at his position in the Big Ten. That should say a lot to most people about his work ethic, especially when you consider how loaded the Wolverines have been at defesnsive tackle over the last few years. Projection: Fourth Round

9. WR Amara Darboh (5th) - Got overshadowed by Chesson late last season but still led the team in receptions (58), including two 100-yard games. He capped off his career at Michigan with a great final year under Harbaugh, leading the team in all major receiving categories. He was fourth in the conference with 826 yards and seven TD's. He possesses very good size (6'2"/215lbs) and just enough speed to compete downfield. He is also considered a leader on and off the field. If he tests out well enough and runs a sub 4.5 forty then he could go as high as the second round. I am willing to bet he doesn't make it past the fourth. Projection: Fourth Round

10. LB Ben Gedeon (Sr) - The team leader in tackles for his final year, Gedeon is another player that hasn't been a fulltime starter throughout most of his career at Michigan. He has always made the most of his opportunities though, and has garnered playing time since he arrived in Ann Arbor. A big-time combine performance could really elevate his stock. At the moment he seems destined for mid-to-late round consideration and he will initially make a roster based on very good special teams play. Projection: Sixth Round 

11. WR Jehu Chesson (5th) - There were high expectations on Chesson having a big senior year. Unfortunately, he struggled while recovering from an injury sustained back in January and never seemed to get into a groove. If he runs a sub 4.4 forty at the combine - he is reportedly Michigan's fastest player - and jumps out of the gym in all of his pre-draft workouts, he could go as high as the third round, but his lack of consistency is a little bit concerning for NFL scouts. The most overlooked part of his game is his ability and willingness to block on the perimeter. That will help his stock. Projection: Sixth Round 

12. Channing Stribling (Sr) - With good size (6'2"/183lbs), Stribling plays well in zone coverages and can also play man well enough to not be a liability. He doesn't really jump off the screen at you and has been prone to some miscues and injuries, but he has all the raw ingredients to become a mid to late round steal. Harbaugh himself said he could see Stribling playing 10 years in the NFL. Projection: Seventh Round

13. FB/TE Kahlid Hill (RJr) - Hill appears to be able to do it all and he will get his fair share of opportunities blocking, receiving, and rushing the ball. He currently is the team leader in rushing TD's (8) and Harbaugh has already given him endorsement as an NFL-quality player. Some day soon he will take that to the bank, but with another year of eligibility left there is a good chance it won't be this winter. Projection: Hill is coming back to help lead the team for his final season.
14. RB De'Veon Smith (Sr) - Though his stats do not jump off the page at you, Smith has been a steady player since his freshman year and has led the team in rushing three years in a row. His ten touchdowns in 2016 coupled with some dominant perfomances against Florida, Penn State, and Indiana in the last year will help his stock. He lacks the elite athleticism and speed to be a top prospect at the position, but he possesses a lot of natural strength and balance. He has always displayed good hands too, rarely fumbling and catching 32 passes (one receiving TD) over the last two years. Somebody will give him a chance to prove he can carry the ball for them. Projection: Seventh Round

15. OT Erik Magnusson (5th) - A solid veteran player with decent size (6'6"/305lbs), mobility, and versatility to play inside or out. Don't expect him to be able to handle starting left tackle duties against the NFL's elite pass-rushers or move 350lbs nose tackles off the line of scrimmage, but he could be a backup swingman or find a home as a starting right tackle in the right system. He could also play guard and possibly even center. He doesn't do anything extremely well but he doesn't really make a lot of mistakes either. If he can clean up some technique issues he could tourn out to be a late round steal. Projection: Seventh Round 

Rookie Free Agents:

  • CB Jeremy Clark
  • RB Ty Isaac
  • LB Mike McCray II - Coming back
  • DT Bryan Mone (RSo) - Coming back
  • OG Kyle Kalis (5th)
  • OG Ben Braden (5th)
  • S Delano Hill (5th)
  • S Dymonte Thomas (Sr)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The season is over, and I still don't want to talk about it. It's time to look towards Florida State.

Go Blue!