Eleven former Michigan players are participating in the 2020 NFL Draft Combine, which began Monday and continues through next week.
Of those 11 players, a few received decent grades and could be high draft picks while several others may want to plan on being snatched up later in the draft or simply plan on going undrafted altogether, according to a recent breakdown by Rivals.com.
Cesar Ruiz, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Ben Bredeson make up the Top-3 Wolverines in terms of who is projected to go highest in April’s draft.
Bredeson, a guard who started 46 of his 50 career games with the Wolverines, is mocked as high as the second-round (pick No. 47 to the Atlanta Falcons, to be specific). Other projections have him as a third- or fourth-round guy, however.
Rivals pointed to his durability as his strongest asset heading into the draft:
Bredeson was never necessarily elite at Michigan, but was consistently productive, reliable and durable. He will likely come off the board within the first three rounds as a result, with several observers who watched him at the Senior Bowl quick to tab him as a future NFL starter.
Peoples-Jones could also find himself going in the second round, according to Bleacher Report. Rivals’ breakdown did acknowledge that while Peoples-Jones is a phenomenal physical talent, he struggled down the stretch with drops — one thing he will need to improve on at the next level.
He has all the physical tools to test extremely well at the combine, though some people seem to forget there’s more that goes into playing football than just having the physical qualities to succeed. Drops became an issue for Peoples-Jones late in his career at Michigan, so it will be important for him to showcase reliable hands at the combine if he wants to be selected within the first three rounds of the draft.
Cesar Ruiz could be the first Wolverines player to go in the draft. The second-team All Big-10 center has been mocked as high as No. 31, going to the Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers. While other analysts have disagreed on his final location, Ruiz seems like a sure thing to finish as a late first-round, early second-round pick.
Ruiz’s draft stock has risen so high, that many of the industry’s top experts are now projecting him to come off the board late in the first round. Viewed as the top center in the draft by many analysts, he’ll likely be the first Wolverine selected in April.
If Ruiz isn’t Michigan’s first player picked, Josh Uche may get that nod. The edge rusher, however, is not participating in drills due to an injury, so it’s possible his stock might drop a bit.
He is currently being viewed as a late first-round pick. Per Rivals:
Uche has seen his draft stock rise more than any other Wolverine since the fall, thanks in large part to a Senior Bowl showing that caused Pro Football Focus to label him as the best player in attendance. A hamstring injury will prevent him from doing any on-field drills, though his absence in that portion shouldn’t cause his draft stock to fall.
Other Wolverines mentioned as late- or middle-round picks include LaVert Hill (as high as the third or fourth round); Khaleke Hudson (third); Sean McKeon (4-6); Josh Metellus (4-6); Mike Onwenu (4-6); Shea Patterson (sixth); and Jon Runyan Jr. (sixth).
Peoples-Jones on draft: “I felt like I was ready”
Speaking of Wolverines in the draft, Donovan Peoples-Jones and his — on the high end — projected second-round status has him among the top wide receivers of this year’s class. That might come as sort of a shock, considering the junior wide out left early and this year’s class is stocked full of talent.
But it isn’t a surprise to Peoples-Jones. Speaking to reporters Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine, the former Wolverines standout said he was ready.
“I felt like I was ready,” he said. “This has been my dream for a long time, and I felt like I’m ready.”
“I’m explosive. And I’m very versatile,” Peoples-Jones said. “I feel like I can play anywhere. In the slot, outside; as a punt returner, kick returner.”
The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Peoples-Jones was categorized as a bit of an underachiever by draft guru Mel Kiper, however, who MLive quoted as saying he wanted to see the Detroit native use his size more consistently.
“I saw some inconsistencies with him,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “I want to see him become more of a power forward and take advantage of that size advantage that he has, to play more effectively and consistently than he did.”
Michigan still in the hunt for Edwards, nation’s No. 2 RB
The Michigan Wolverines are still in the hunt for Donovan Edwards, the nation’s No. 2 RB in the 2021 recruiting class.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound back out of West Bloomfield told Sam Webb of Michigan Insider that the Wolverines are “like home” due, in part, to his familiarity with others committed to Michigan.
“He has a great relationship with Jay Harbaugh, he’s working to grab a stronger relationship with, and he knows Jim (Harbaugh),” said Ronald Bellamy, Edwards’ high school coach and a former Michigan wide receiver. “He’s been a Michigan kid. We’re 45 minutes from Ann Arbor to West Bloomfield, so it’s a skip and a hop (away). And he drives now.
“I think having two teammates that have committed to Michigan, I think that helps too in terms of him developing a better relationship with the staff.”
Patterson: Potential extra year not worth the risk
Former Michigan Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson may have had a chance for an extra year of college eligibility, but it would have come with the risk of missing out on participating in the Senior Bowl and extra practice time.
The risk was not worth it, Patterson was quotes as saying by Rivals.com.
“I couldn’t really find out until early February, maybe late February, if I would even get the fifth year,” Patterson said. “That’s a big risk. I would have had to pass up the Senior Bowl. I would have had to pass up training.
“If I didn’t get that, I would have been stuck in no-man’s land.”
The additional year of eligibility, which would have been considered had Patterson petitioned for it from the NCAA, was possible because Patterson was riddled with injuries early in his career, while attending Ole Miss.
- If Michigan fans were hoping that, by some chance, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day would be on the move anytime soon, those chances have dwindled dramatically. ESPN.com reports that Day has signed a three-year extension with the Buckeyes.
- In case you were wondering where Michigan stands in the most recent Big-10 basketball power rankings, here is the breakdown published Tuesday, with the Wolverines coming in at No. 2 behind Maryland.