Potential Day 1 Prospects
Rashan Gary, 4-3 DE with 3-4 DE potential if he adds weight, Jr.
Gary may not have scheme versatility because he plays at 280 lbs, but he is a dream 4-3 defensive end. He will set the edge against the run, provide enough of a pass rush on 1st and 2nd down and then shift inside on passing downs. Ultimately, Gary could fall out of the top 10 picks in the draft depending on which teams are selecting in those spots, but he is going to be a very strong addition to a base 4-3 defense early on Day 1.
Devin Bush, LB, Jr.
Bush fits the mold of what NFL executives are looking for in today’s game. He has the speed to be a factor in coverage and he makes plenty of plays in the opponent’s backfield as well. If he has a knock, it’s that he isn’t very big (under 6 feet tall and possibly under 220 lbs). I’m not overly concerned with his eventual measurements at the combine and I believe he will be a strong mid-late 1st round linebacker in April.
Shea Patterson, QB, Jr.
Patterson is definitely on the Day 1 watchlist to begin the year. He has talented receivers at Michigan and he won’t have to face SEC defenses anymore, even though he will miss A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf. I want to see him in that 11/24 matchup against a top defense in the most important game of any Michigan or Ohio State season.
Khaleke Hudson, LB-S, Jr.
Hudson’s sophomore campaign was one of the most impressive statistical displays I’ve seen at the FBS level. He tallied 18.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 9 passes defended! NFL executives will view him as a linebacker or safety. I think 3-4 teams will view him as a Day 1 prospect as an outside backer. He is too short to play with his hand in the ground in a 4-3, but go ask the Pittsburgh Steelers organization if it buys into the myth that rush linebackers have to be taller than six feet. The team has had plenty of success drafting undersized rushers that were passed over by other teams. His ability in coverage means he could also profile as an inside linebacker or a 4-3 WILL or SAM. I don’t think many will have Hudson ranked as a first round prospect and I’ll concede that he is probably a safer bet to land in the second frame, but I really like Hudson.
Potential Day 2 Prospects
Chase Winovich, Edge, Sr.
Some of Winovich’s gaudy statistics are misleading as a result of him shifting inside and being quicker than opposing interior linemen. He won’t be able to do that in the NFL. If you really followed the 2018 draft closely, then think of Hercules Mata’afa from Washington State. Casual observers thought I was nuts for placing him all the way down in the 7th round of the site’s final mock draft. In the end, he didn’t get drafted at all because scouts were easily able to identify that his off-the-charts production wouldn’t transfer to a league where you can’t play defensive tackle at 250 lbs. Unlike, Mata’afa, Winovich has also shown plenty of intrigue playing defensive end. He is reliable against the run and made some plays as a rusher as well. I think the inflated numbers will explain why he isn’t a first round pick, but he’s a very strong prospect on the edge and a safe bet to land on Day 2.
David Long, CB, Jr.
While Long didn’t compile a huge statline during his first year as a starter, it was due to his outstanding talent. He didn’t allow opposing receivers to do much at all. He seems to really be flying under the radar right now. I think he will have a shot at a Day 2 selection if he can repeat his success in 2018.
Lavert Hill, CB, Jr.
Hill is small so I think he is limited to being a sub package corner at the next level. That will push him out of the first round. Working in his favor is the fact that every team plays a nickel as, essentially, a starter. I like him a lot as a Day 2 choice.
Karan Higdon, RB, Sr.
Higdon wisely decided to return to school in order to work on his ability in pass protection in favor of entering a stacked 2018 running back class. He would have easily ranked behind Nyheim Hines for us. By waiting a year, Higdon will have a chance to sneak into Day 2, but, like he mentioned, he has to show that he can be more valuable in the passing game first.
Potential Day 3 Prospects
Ben Bredeson, OG, Jr.
Bredeson was a big recruit and saw playing time immediately. He is the clear leader of the offensive line this season now that Mason Cole has moved on to the NFL. Bredeson has been only mediocre as both a run blocker and in pass protection. However, he hasn’t even played a down as an upperclassman yet so I still believe he could develop into a solid 3rd round pick. For now, I have him in the early Day 3 mix.
Tyree Kinnel, FS, Sr.
Kinnel is a proven playmaker and he should get drafted as a result. He led the team in tackles last season while also getting his hand on 9 balls intended for opposing receivers. He looks like a solid mid-round selection.
Sean McKeon, TE, Jr.
McKeon piled up 301 yards receiving in 2017 and the big athletic tight end has a chance to take a step forward this year. He is definitely known as more of a pass catcher than a blocker and Shea Patterson’s arrival might help. I think Day 3 is a reasonable projection. He wasn’t a highly regarded recruit, but he’s made a big impression during his time at Michigan so far. I would currently project him to go anytime after the 4th round. 2018 (and possibly 2019) will go a long way toward determining his value.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, So.
Peoples-Jones was simply one of the most highly sought after recruits of 2017. He chose Michigan and gained immediate playing time. He is big and fast. With a year under his belt, and a new quarterback under center, Peoples-Jones is expected to take a gigantic leap forward this year. He has true #1 receiver potential at the pro level and could eventually be a top 5 selection.
Tarik Black, WR, Fr.
Black was another big-time recruit for Michigan and he also played right away. Black was the team’s leading receiver when a broken foot ended his season. He’s bigger than Peoples-Jones while not being quite as athletic (few are). If Black can pick up where he left off before the injury, he also has first round talent.
Quinn Nordin, K, So.
Nordin is on track to become a Day 2 selection. He already has impressive range. He hit 19 of 24 field goals as a freshman and that included a 55-yarder. He was the top kicker in his recruiting class and there’s no reason to believe he won’t become the best player at his position when he enters the draft.
Mustapha Muhammad, TE, Fr.
Muhammad is a big athletic tight end and a 4-star recruit. He has exciting potential, but we probably won’t see him until the 2019 season.
James Hudson, OT-DE, Fr.
Hudson was a highly regarded recruit as a defensive end, but Michigan redshirted him last season and is now grooming him to become the future left tackle. It will be a fun situation to keep an eye on over the next few years and it would also be irresponsible for me to give a round projection at this point.
Josh Ross, LB, So.
As of this writing, Ross isn’t guaranteed to start at the team’s vacant WILL linebacker position. I do believe he will eventually emerge as an impact starter, even if it’s not right away. I also feel that he is an NFL athlete and has the potential to be a mid-rounder in 2020 or 2021.