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Jim Harbaugh on Rashan Gary’s critics: ‘It’s comical to me’

Harbaugh defends Gary two days before the NFL Draft

NCAA Football: Michigan at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A day removed from ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper saying former Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary’s draft stock is slipping, Jim Harbaugh defended Gary.

“I see people trying to put out a negative thing about a player. Rashan Gary runs in the four-fives, he’s 280 pounds. He’s going to get drafted in the top 10. These people that are trying to kid themselves that he’s not, it’s comical to me.” Harbaugh said on his podcast. “They are trying to get someone to not pick him in the top 10 so he could fall. There are some people out there who would love to see him get into the 20s so they can get him. It’s fairly transparent and the way I think the pro teams go about it is that. They try the ‘I don’t know, I wouldn’t take him there or I wouldn’t take him here.’ Watch on draft day. He’ll get taken in that spot.”

Harbaugh’s comments came out before it was reported that Gary has a lingering shoulder injury that may require surgery after the 2019 season. It doesn’t sound to be a serious injury, though.

The point Harbaugh is trying to make is that this time of year, misinformation is the norm when it comes to NFL Draft reporting. Teams will feed the media falsehoods saying they don’t like a player or they love a player in hopes that they’ll have a better shot at snagging the prospect they want most.

Mel Kiper said on Monday that “Some think he (Gary) could go 10-28. That range is because he’s a phenomenal athlete with limited production, limited sack production, 10 sacks in 34 games. Will he be able to snap his finger? Will the light go on in the NFL to allow him to become a sack artist? Up to this point, he hasn’t been.”

The thing about Gary’s sack production, whether you loved him as a player or thought he was overrated, is a silly thing to point out. Gary was never asked to be a sack artist in Michigan’s scheme. As Don Brown put it, “I kind of disagree with it, it’s what you’re asked to do within the scheme. He’s a 280 pound defensive end that runs around like a 260 pounder. In our defense it all starts with knocking the tight end back. Who better in the country to knock the tight end back than him? Obviously we did a lot of inside movement and edge stuff. We asked him to be a complete football player and not just rush the passer, and he did it great and was a great teammate.”

Most teams realize what Gary was asked to do within Michigan’s scheme, and most of the chatter from people like Kiper is a bit of a farce. It sounds and feels like bar chatter, not what NFL execs truly think of Gary. It would be surprising to see Gary slip into late round one. Gary’s combine performance was stellar, and teams don’t pass up eye-popping combine numbers. The dude ran a 4.58, benched 26 reps of 225-pounds, and had a 38” vertical, those are the type of numbers that get a defensive lineman drafted in the top 15.