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Five Wolverines included on early NFL Draft big board

A few Michigan players are already considered among the best draft prospects in 2024.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Michigan State at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Thursday, The Athletic draft expert, Dane Brugler, released his early 2024 NFL Draft big board ahead of the upcoming college football season. His board consisted of 50 college players who are currently seen as the best prospects in the draft, and five Wolverines made the final cut.

Junior quarterback J.J McCarthy was the highest-ranked Michigan player on Brugler’s board, checking in at No. 19. McCarthy impressed in his first season as a starter last year and will now look to assert himself as one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. Brugler noted that McCarthy’s arm talent and ability to run the ball (430 career rushing yards) increase his value as a draft prospect, but will need to improve his decision-making and further refine his accuracy to take his game to the next level.

Kris Jenkins was also included on the list at No. 39. The senior defensive tackle enjoyed a breakout season last year and considered declaring for the draft in the offseason. He returns to the Wolverines with some big shoes to fill in the middle of the defensive front. His athleticism and size add to his appeal, but Brugler also mentioned that his ability to rush the passer still needs improvement. He was also highly ranked on Bruce Feldman’s annual Freak’s List.

The lone offensive lineman on the list was senior guard Zak Zinter, who was listed at No. 41. Zinter has been a stalwart on the offensive line as a starter for the last two seasons and is back as one of three returning starters up front. Brugler likes his strength, footwork, and intelligence, but notes that his pad level needs some work in order for him to improve his stock.

Both of Michigan’s top running backs also snuck into Brugler’s top 50. Junior Donovan Edwards made the list at No. 46 with senior Blake Corum grabbing the final spot at No. 50. Despite being the less productive of the duo last year, Edwards is likely a more intriguing prospect than Corum due to his age and highly-sought-after ability as a pass catcher (38 career receptions for 465 yards and 2 touchdowns). Edwards has also been extremely efficient as a runner, registering 6.7 yards-per-carry for his career.

According to Brugler, there will likely be some concerns about Corum’s health after suffering a meniscus injury last season. Teams might also have some pause given the fact that he carried the ball 247 times last year and is likely to have a similar workload this year. Additionally, after showing some flashes as a receiver early in his career, Corum caught just 11 passes last year, and might need to rebound in this area of his game to garner some more draft consideration. Otherwise, Corum is still an incredible talent due in large part to his vision and agility, as well as his strength despite his 5-foot-8 frame.