The Michigan receiving group was strong in 2016, with two NFL Draft products (Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson). The duo was highly productive, and on paper it would seem that their production won't be replaced this season. I counter that assumption and believe Michigan has better depth (albeit unproven) at wide receiver for 2017.
Michigan Wide Receiver Preview
- Eddie McDoom. The fastest man on the field could be a huge factor for Michigan. McDoom can be used in the slot, as down-field deep threat, and lethal on jet-sweep runs. He's still unproven as a receiver, only five catches for 59 yards his freshman season, but in his limited time on the field he showed how dangerous he can become, rushing 16 times for 160 yards.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones. The highest-rated receiver Michigan has ever recruited. Expectations are high, but will his production be? He already has a solid enough frame to box defenders out and win jump balls, standing 6-foot-2, 193 pounds. Peoples-Jones’ high school senior season featured 17 touchdown receptions and 1,007 yards receiving. It is always difficult to assume a freshman can have an immediate impact, but Peoples-Jones appears to be a prime candidate to help Michigan win some games right away.
- Tarik Black stands 6-foot-4, 208 pounds and provides another serious deep threat/red-zone target for the Michigan offense. He had an impressive Spring Game, catching a touchdown and hauling in balls where there was tight coverage on him. It will be no surprise if this freshman has a substantial role in 2017. Black was ranked as the 17th best wideout in the class.
- Grant Perry is back with the team after some off-field troubles. Perry had 13 receptions for 183 yards and one touchdown in 2016. Not eye-popping statistics, but his time on the field was noticeable. Perry has a knack for running smooth routes and finding a way to get open. His game reminds me a lot of former Dallas Cowboys star Miles Austin. Perry could lead Michigan in receptions in 2017.
- Kekoa Crawford will be wearing #1. He spoke with former Michigan standout, current Carolina Panters wideout Devin Funchess about wearing the number. Crawford soon came to realize that Michigan greats wear that number. This tid-bit says where his head is at; Crawford wants to be one of the greats for the Wolverines.
- Nico Collins picked Michigan over Alabama. One would have to believe he feels his chances of contributing immediately are pretty good. The four-star recruit and Alabama native was the No. 23 receiver in the class of 2017. 6-foot-5 and fast, Collins is going to create a lot of problems for smaller cornerbacks.
- Maurice Ways, Nate Johnson, Oliver Martin, and Nate Schoenle are also vying for playing time. I find Martin to be the most intriguing of this group, as he was the No. 28 receiver in his class and one of the biggest risers up the recruiting ranks in 2016.
As you can see, Michigan has a lot of depth at the position. I expect a lot of the names above to contribute and be part of a rotation that gives them ample snaps and opportunities to help Michigan win. Some of the men will ultimately help on special teams more-so, while others will make a huge difference in regards to Michigan's National Championship aspirations. There is plenty of speed, height and versatility at the position. We’ll see soon enough how good this group is, and can become.