Ben Braden came to Michigan as part of Brady Hoke’s first full recruiting class at the University of Michigan in 2012. He’s been apart of the program from a promising start of the Hoke era, to the disastrous 2014 season, to the (almost) glorious first two years of the Jim Harbaugh era. A three-year starter, Braden has been under the microscope as part of the much discussed offensive line group that struggled at times when they needed to get yards the most.
As stated earlier, Braden has experienced some of the lowest of lows in Michigan football history, and some pretty high moments as well, as has most of the players in the draft for Michigan this year. That seems to have defined Braden’s career individually as well, as consistency seemed to be one of the issues with his game. There were moments while watching Braden that made you say “Wow, that guy’s going to be a pro.” There were also moments that made you say “Yeesh, that wasn’t good.”
When Braden was on, he looked like one of the better lineman on the team. He is a big, strong player who can be dominant in the run game when he uses his size and strength. There were also times where he looked to be on skates in pass blocking. One of Braden’s bigger weaknesses is picking up blocks in space. Whether it be him pulling or chipping off to get to a linebacker, he never seems to be able to get a clean block on a player in space. If he had been better at that, Michigan’s run game might have been a heckuva lot better in 2016.
Braden, who played seven games at left tackle and four at left guard, is looking at a a career as a guard in the NFL. While Braden is a good athlete for his size, he struggles in space (there’s a theme here) against good-to-elite ahletes. Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard is a solid player, but there were times that Braden was struggling to hold his own. If Michigan had played Texas A&M, Myles Garrett would have had a field day. Luckily, Braden is a guard. He is much better in pass pro when he isn’t isolated in space.
When it comes to Ben Braden, you’re looking at a pretty good athlete at guard who can maybe make a roster spot in 2017, while a practice squad spot seems more likely. He was still an All Big Ten performer this past year, so the coaches in the conference thought highly enough of him. I think when taking a look at his skills, they don’t translate to tackle, but as stated before, he is a guard through and through.
At worst, I think Braden is a guy who is going to a occupy a roster spot or be a practice squad player for a few years and maybe getting called up due to an injury. I never thought Michael Schofield would be a starter on a an NFL team, let alone a Super Bowl team, but he’s been very solid in Denver. Both Braden and Schofield are 6’6 and Braden is actually a much better athlete given their numbers in the combine. Braden had the better 40 yard dash time, vertical, 20 yard shuttle, and broad jump.
At best, Braden is a guy who can be a rotational player and maybe blossom into a starter for an average team. He’s a tough player who plays hard, and some NFL coaching can’t hurt his chances to improve as a player.