Conference Championship Weekend is behind us and the NFL offseason is rapidly approaching. For 30 teams, a majority of the focus has already shifted toward the NFL Draft, where several Michigan Wolverines expect to hear their name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Many of the major analysts have wrapped up their first mock drafts, and several outlets are beginning to release their rankings of the players available. Most contain at least a handful of Wolverines relatively early in the draft. Let’s take a look at where some evaluators are expecting the Michigan men to go:
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler
Two Michigan defenders make Brugler’s Top 100 prospect list.
- No. 57: Mazi Smith
- No. 85: DJ Turner
Austin Mock and Nick Baumgardner, two of The Athletic’s NFL Draft writers, said that they believe Turner may be a little too low. “Another cornerback who feels a bit low here is Michigan’s DJ Turner (No. 85). He has a shot at the second round,” said the duo.
Brugler also ranked his top players by position, where the Wolverines were very well represented:
- No. 7 TE: Luke Schoonmaker
- No. 13 OT: Ryan Hayes
- No. 15 IOL: Olu Oluwatimi
- No. 11 EDGE: Mike Morris
- No. 4 IDL: Mazi Smith
- No. 11 CB: DJ Turner
Not included in the story is special teams where both kicker Jake Moody and punter Brad Robbins probably would have been present.
But where do these guys all get drafted? Here are the guys present in Brugler’s two-round projection:
- No. 42 Cleveland Browns: DT Mazi Smith
“Would Mazi Smith be the best defensive tackle on the Browns roster the moment he’s drafted? It’s no mystery that is a position of need for Cleveland.”
- No. 58 Dallas Cowboys: CB DJ Turner
“Neither of Dallas’ Day 2 cornerbacks from the 2021 draft (Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright) have been dependable. It is time to reinvest in the position.”
- No. 62 Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Mike Morris
ESPN’s Mel Kiper
Mel Kiper has a little bit of a different collection of stories, but he updated his Top-10 positional rankings this week. Here is where the Wolverines are at:
- No. 9 TE: Luke Schoonmaker
- “Just Missed” OT: Ryan Hayes
- No. 2 C: Olu Oluwatimi
- No. 5 DT: Mazi Smith
- No. 4 OLB: Mike Morris
- No. 3 K/P: Jake Moody
- No. 10 K/P: Brad Robbins
Schoonmaker and Moody jumped a spot in these positional rankings, while every other player on the list stayed at their same ranking. Surprisingly, DJ Turner is not even mentioned in Kiper’s story.
For his first-round mock, Kiper thinks that the Dallas Cowboys could be looking defensive tackle at No. 26 depending on the situation, and he dropped Mazi Smith as one they could consider. However, he had them picking Bijan Robinson out of Texas instead.
PFF’s Mike Renner
Since the end of the regular season, Mike Renner from PFF has been releasing his top 10 players at each position. Compared to the other two so far, Renner is very different, but so is the case with PFF. Here’s all that he’s got:
- No. 7 IOL: Olu Oluwatimi
Early Day 3 Projection:
“Oluwatimi has four years of starting experience — three at Virginia and one at Michigan. He was an integral part of the Wolverines’ success on the ground this past fall with the fifth-highest run-blocking grade at the center position in college football. It was his second straight season earning a top-five grade in that regard.
While Oluwatimi gets by on his craftiness, it’s still worrisome that the sixth-year man’s play strength was still getting exposed. Whether it’s the grip strength to consistently stay latched on or the lower-body drive to move someone against their will, Oluwatimi leaves evaluators wanting a little more.”
- No. 5 IDL: Mazi Smith
Early Day 2 Projection:
“Smith has long-term NFL starter written all over him. When he wants to drop anchor, there’s little chance of moving him against his will. That ability alone is growing more attractive to NFL defenses trying to stop the run with light boxes.
The only question left for Smith is why four years in with one of the best athletic profiles you’ll see from a nose tackle hasn’t translated to affecting the passer more. He’s registered only 23 pressures on 368 pass-rushing snaps this season, and that may never be his game at the next level.”
CBS Player Rankings
CBS ranked their Top 250 prospects and six Wolverines make the cut. Here they are:
- No. 51: Mazi Smith
- No. 79: Luke Schoonmaker
- No. 83: DJ Turner
- No. 96: Olu Oluwatimi
- No. 116: Ryan Hayes
- No. 131: Mike Morris
FOX’s Rob Rang
NFL Draft Analyst Rob Rang dropped his Top-50 players and a single Michigan player appears:
- No. 37: Mazi Smith
“Smith is a classic run-stuffer on the inside, who is expected to drop jaws during workouts with his raw athleticism.”