Michigan Sent A Bunch Of Players To The NFL Last Year. Can They Do It Again In 2018?
Last week we took a look at the crop of potential draft prospects from the Oklahoma Sooners. This week it’s the Michigan Wolverines turn.
The Wolverines had 11 players selected in last years draft. They had another seven players who were picked up as undrafted free agents. Any time a team loses that many players you might expect a the team to struggle a bit during the following season. Fortunately for Michigan Jim Harbaugh has done a good job of bringing in talent.
In order to avoid a down year Michigan will need some guys to step up. There are still a few key contributors from last season on the roster as well.
Meet Michigan’s Prospects:
Michigan lost most of their starters from last season Their defense has one returning starter. That means there will be a lot of players who will be getting a shot to show what they can do.
They do have a handful of returning starters and a few key reserves who have a chance to head to the NFL following this season.
These are the some of the players that you should keep an eye on this season:
Defensive Tackle Maurice Hurst, 6’2” 282, Redshirt Senior:
Hurst is smaller than the average NFL interior defensive lineman. He played really well last season, racking up 11.5 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks.
His best attribute is probably how quick he is off the ball. This makes it tough for offensive lineman to stop him from getting penetration. Despite his size he still has pretty good strength, he rarely gets pushed around.
More playing time will likely be in store for Hurst this season. Before announcing that he was returning for his senior year after last season Hurst was already considered a solid prospect. He should be able to build on that this year and could end up being an early round pick.
Offensive Lineman Mason Cole, 6’5” 305, Senior:
Cole has made 38 consecutive starts for the Wolverines. He played left tackle as a freshman and sophomore. As a junior he moved inside to play center. This year he is expected to move back to left tackle.
He’s a decent athlete who is capable of getting blocks downfield. He has good balance and generally sound technique. Also he is a strong leader.
One thing he should improve on is his strength. He gets by at the college level but could struggle against more powerful NFL defenders. Most people believe he will be an interior lineman in the pros. He showed that he can play center at a high level last season. Another season at left tackle will just show his versatility, which certainly won’t hurt his draft chances.
Linebacker Mike McCray, 6’4” 248, Redshirt Senior:
McCray is the only Michigan defender that can say they started all 13 games a season ago. He played well, logging 75 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, four and a half sacks, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
He’s a big guy and plays like an old school NFL linebacker. Although he lacks elite athleticism he’s still effective in coverage. He is a sure tackler and is pretty effective when he’s used as a blitzer.
Next season McCray should be the leader of a talented defense. Another productive year and there is no question that NFL teams will want him.
Defensive End Chase Winovich, 6’3” 255, Redshirt Junior:
Winovich was a key part of Michigan’s defensive line rotation last season. He recorded five and a half sacks and nine tackles for loss in 2016. After the departure of all of the starters from last year’s defensive line Winovich should see more playing time this season.
He’s preparing to be an every down player. He played last season at around 245 lbs. but added ten pounds during the offseason. Also he said that he got faster as well which important because he often beat offensive lineman using his speed.
If he can take advantage of the playing time and prove to be able to handle playing all three downs Winovich could become a very interesting prospect.
Fullback Khalid Hill, 6’2” 263, Redshirt Senior:
Hill may be deserving of being a mid-round pick based strictly off of his nickname, The Hammering Panda. He’s also a really good football player. He led Michigan last season with 10 rushing touchdowns and caught three more.
There’s no reason to believe he’ll be less involved this season since Michigan lost so many players. Obviously fullbacks aren’t generally relied on to make plays in the NFL. Hill played tight end early in his college career and is also a pretty decent blocker.
Not every team carries a fullback on their roster so that may limit Hill’s draft stock. Last year’s draft saw two fullbacks come off the board. If Hill can continue to show versatility and a nose for the endzone there is a really good shot he will be drafted.