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Going For 2: Analyzing Michigan Football’s Latest NFL Invasion

With the NFL Draft just a month away, we revived an old roundtable format and talked about Michigan’s latest crop of superstars.

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Don’t call it a comeback. “Going For 2” has returned with two new faces on the scene. We may have been wrong about knocking off some Pacific Northwest team, I don’t know.

Andrew: Jared, how are you today man?

Jared: Living the dream man. What’s going on?

Andrew: You know staring at the clock, preparing to scream during the Michigan/ Oregon game tonight, contemplating life, the usual. You ready to talk a little football?

Jared: SERIOUSLY. Yeah man I am always game to talk football.

Andrew: Let’s jump right in, other than Jabrill Peppers, what star former Michigan player do you think will have the biggest impact at the next level?

Jared: I think the the “obvious” answer here is Taco Charlton, he is the highest rated by a lot of these draft experts and looks like a first round lock. Charlton has all of the tools, and I fully expect him to live up to his potential.

I am going to bring up Chris Wormley though. He played a bunch of football for Michigan, and rarely did it seem he was overmatched or out of position. He is physically ready for the jump, and plays with a motor that NFL teams are going to fall in love with. He is versatile, with the ability to play inside or outside, as well as consistent.

Wisconsin v Michigan
Video: Highlights of Taco Charlton’s senior season | Draft Profile
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Is there someone other than the above mentioned you have your eye on?

Andrew: I’ve been riding with him all season and I’m going to stick with him: Jourdan Lewis. I know he is in somewhat of hot water right now with the domestic violence allegations, but I believe he is still destined to be a highly touted corner in the NFL. His ability to shift and cover quicker receivers in the slot should translate to a lucrative contract for teams getting tired of the Julian Edelman’s of the world tearing them apart.

Granted, he has struggled with bigger receivers, but I believe this is an issue he can improve upon.

Jared: I like that pick, Lewis has been my favorite player the past few seasons. I fully expect (and hope) that the domestic violence charges are dropped and he is taken in the first two rounds. He can definitely hang with slot guys in the NFL, I just worry about him if he is matched up against an Alshon Jeffery or god forbid, a Julio Jones.

Andrew: I’m not sure if the reincarnation of Deion Sanders could cover Julio at the level he is playing at right now. Lewis on a shorter elite receiver such as Antonio Brown or Brandin Cooks would be interesting. Obviously he will need some NFL reps to adjust to the game speed, but one of those matchups in the next few years could be a lot of fun to watch. What do you think about the lower round prospects (Stribling, Smith, Gedeon)? And who has the most upside?

Michigan State v Michigan
Video: Ben Gedeon vs. Ohio State (2016) | Draft Profile
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Jared: I could see Ben Gedeon landing on a team and being a very solid special teams contributor. His bench press at the combine surely caught the attention of scouts, and he was exceptional against the run last year.

The player with highest upside though has to be Stribling. He has tremendous length and flashed some excellent cover skills throughout the season. While he doesn’t have elite speed, he stays in the receivers hip pocket and can make up ground with his burst. The only thing stopping him from being a high draft pick is his porous run defense. Watching him trying to tackle Akrum Wadley and Mike Weber on the edges last year took years off of my life expectancy.

If he can get into a program that can motivate him to deliver some hits and teach him proper pursuit angles, he could be an NFL starter.

Andrew: Stribling is the result of many broken remotes and profanities screamed in my household this past fall. He just didn't play aggressive enough in run defense. Almost like he wanted to watch and was reluctant to make a play. Really like the Gedeon prediction because of the strength and run defense aggressiveness.

However, I think De’Veon Smith will have a biggest role in the NFL as a third down back. A powerful runner who is improving his vision and can also make a play out of the backfield. I think Coach Wheatley worked wonders with him this past season.

Capitol One Orange Bowl - Florida State v Michigan
Video: De’Veon Smith vs. Ohio State (2016) | Draft Profile
Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Jared: De’Veon played like someone insulted his mother right before every play. Dude was an absolute warrior. I wouldn’t bet against his brand of determination and work ethic. If he is running behind the Dallas Cowboys offensive line, I think he could have some success. If he is asked to create on his own, I don’t see it happening. We were beating a dead horse running him over and over against OSU and FSU, when it appeared to the casual observer Evans or Higdon would have had a greater impact.

Which one of the pass catchers (Butt, Chesson, Darboh) do you see having the most prolific or longest NFL career and why?

Andrew: J-Booty without hesitation. Butt has the length and athleticism to fit the modern day usage of the NFL tight end perfectly. I believe his greatest strength is that he has no glaring weakness. The knee injury is concerning, but from what I have read, he seems to be recovering ahead of schedule.

That being said, I feel like Darboh has the highest ceiling. He vastly improved from his junior to senior year and his 40 at the combine surprised me. Chesson is still a solid prospect, but his frame has me slightly concerned at the next level. Who are you thinking?

Michigan v Ohio State
Video: Highlights of Jake Butt’s senior season | Draft Profile
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Jared: I agree with you in full. So long as Butt can keep that knee healthy, he is a chain-moving machine at the next level. He will never be Gronkowski, but he needs to bulk up a little bit to withstand the punishment that comes with operating in the seam.

Darboh reminds me very much of a Jason Avant. Avant played with much speedier, flashier guys at UM but went on to play 9 good years in the NFL. I think Darboh could come in and be a solid No. 2 option for a team. Chesson has shown some flashes of brilliance, and certainly has all the talent to make an NFL roster, but he seemed to be very much driven by his confidence. When confidence was high (‘16) he seemed like one of the nation's best playmakers, when it was shaken (‘17) he seemed to disappear altogether.

What about the rest of the potential draftees? Who do you think catches on? What about Jeremy Clark?

Andrew: Merely speculation, but I really like Dymonte Thomas. His physicality and progressing coverage skills have me optimistic for his future. Jeremy Clark is another I believe that, if he can recover, can be a valuable reserve at the NFL level.

Another player I have grown on is Erik Magnuson. I have berated the offensive line on several occasions, but at the next level with some obvious improvement, Magnuson can contribute. I feel like he needs help because if he steps into a bad team and is expected to start for some reason, it could be a disaster. How do you feel about them and the other offensive line prospects?

Jared: At this point, speculation is running rampant. The NFL does need offensive linemen badly, so that might give these three seniors a chance.

Detroit Lions v New York Giants
Graham Glasgow (#60) was not a heralded NFL prospect, but started his rookie year for Detroit. Michigan might repeat that feat with one of its three 2016 seniors.
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

On defense, I feel safe about Ryan Glasgow though. He appeared to be a (slightly) better all-around player than his brother in college, who now looks like he is going to be an above average starter in Detroit. The younger (but not youngest) Glasgow doesn’t do anything sexy, but he does not make mistakes and can stuff the run with the best of them. He is not going to come in and be Ndamukong Suh or anything, but I could see him getting in on a rotation and having a long career.

I also think that if Jeremy Clark is fully recovered, he could get a shot. He has Stribling’s length with a willingness to tackle. As far as the offensive line prospects, there is nobody that I am bullish on. Magnuson probably catches on somewhere, but I didn’t see anything from those guys last season that suggests they are primed for some huge jump in ability.

BYU v Michigan
Video: Erik Magnuson vs. Northwestern (2015) | Draft Profile
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Andrew: We discussed spring ball a little in our Roundtable, but regarding positional coaches, who do you think faces the toughest task going into this next season?

Jared: Good question. Jay Harbaugh is interesting because he does not have a ton of experience as a coach, let alone a running backs coach. He has a stable of talented running backs to work with though, so I think he will be fine. I am going with Greg Frey. He is coming in and learning a new system, getting acquainted with a new coaching staff, and figuring out what he has on the roster. He also has the biggest challenge on the field as well, as you have to assume he was brought in at least in part, to accelerate the development of some of the young offensive lineman. Michigan has 3 or 4 spots up for grabs on the line next year, and they will be filled by young, unproven kids in some capacity. He is specializing in tackles and tight ends, but I have to believe he will have some influence on the entire line, and there are too many questions there. Who do you got?

Andrew: Jay Harbaugh first and foremost for the same reasons you just stated. Interested to see the development in Evans and Higdon from his involvement. From a larger standpoint, Don Brown will be the guy to watch. Replacing so many parts on that defense and Jabrill Peppers who played everything except punter (even tho I'm sure he could). He has the coaching pedigree behind him, but this season could be the one where he really earns his merit.

I feel like it's time to crack a couple brews and watch us knock off Oregon. Til next time brother!