The Michigan Wolverines made a point to be more balanced on offense this season. While they still leaned on the run-game late in the season against better competition, the team’s ability to move the ball through the air made them a tougher matchup for opposing defenses. The coaching staff was well aware they had too talented of a quarterback to just let him hand the ball off all season.
The Wolverines lose three reliable pass catchers to the draft. Two veteran wideouts in Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson, as well as tight end A.J. Barner. Today, we’ll take a look at what round these three will likely be drafted and where their next home could be.
Roman Wilson - Second Round
Los Angeles Chargers
It would almost be too good to be true, right? Wilson was asked in an interview following a practice for the Reese’s Senior Bowl about the opportunity to continue playing for Harbaugh. He explained how happy he was for his former coach pursuing his NFL dream of winning a Super Bowl and how great it would be playing for him again. With players such as Mike Williams recovering from a torn ACL and former TCU star Quentin Johnston not quite putting up the numbers some would have expected, Harbaugh may be tempted to pick a speedy wideout he is familiar with.
The Bears will be looking to get more out of their offense this coming season. While they look to revamp their offense, a player like Wilson could do wonders. DJ Moore stole the show as the best wide receiver for the Bears this past season. The former Maryland Terrapin is similar in size to Wilson, and both boast skills in both the short passing game and downfield threat. Although there are some uncertainties surrounding the Bears’ offense, Wilson could be a plug-and-play receiver to complement Moore, who was the only highly productive wideout on the roster this past season.
There is a chance a slot receiver position could be opening up on the Broncos’ roster. There are rumors swirling that Sean Payton could be setting up a deal to trade Jerry Jeudy. If that is the case, they will be looking to fill that void, and Wilson may be the man for the job at a cheaper price. If the Broncos choose to retain their signal-caller, a Russell Wilson to Roman Wilson connection could be an easy transition should Jeudy be traded. If the Broncos part ways with their older quarterback, there is a chance they could pick up J.J. McCarthy with their first pick, which would make it all that more appealing to bring an already developed connection to Denver.
Cornelius Johnson - Sixth Round
The Eagles will likely be looking to pick up a wide receiver later in the draft, and Johnson may be a good fit. Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus and Julio Jones are all free agents, making a big-bodied wide receiver appealing to Philly. Johnson would instantly become one of the biggest receivers on their roster to play alongside A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and would make for a good developmental piece for the Eagles to add to their arsenal.
The Bills will be looking to build around Josh Allen and make his life a little easier. Their second leading receiver this past season, Gabe Davis, is set to hit free agency. He is one of their only real down-field threats, so the Bills could be looking to add a couple bodies at the position. Why not use a late-round pick on a guy who is generally a reliable target?
The Browns could very likely be looking for a more explosive receiver later in the draft with their two fifth-round picks and two sixth-round picks. Amari Cooper has been the primary target as of late, and while still competing at a high level, he is approaching his 10th season in the league. Cedric Tillman has a similar size to CJ, but didn’t have much production until later in the season. If the Browns believe Johnson could come in and have an immediate impact, he would be a good grab in the later rounds.
A.J. Barner - Fifth Round
New England Patriots
The Patriots have a lot of moving parts this offseason, including a new head coach and possibly a new QB1. Hunter Henry was their primary tight end last season but with him being a free agent, his time in New England may be over. If that is the case, they will be looking for another pass catching tight end with good hands. Enter: A.J. Barner.
Outside of Dallas Goedert, the tight end room in Philadelphia is pretty underwhelming. He was the only tight end on the roster to eclipse 100 receiving yards, making another pass catching option attractive. With how dynamic the offense is with Jalen Hurts, a tight end that is an excellent blocker would be ideal. Barner would be an excellent fit for the Eagles.
The Carolina offense was pretty poor this past season. Outside of Adam Thielen, their pass-catching options were limited. The Panthers’ leading tight end was Tommy Tremble, who ended the season with less than 200 yards. Barner is a little larger than Tremble and could end up being a better long-term TE1 option. The Panthers will likely be looking for a tight end in the later rounds and could swoop up Barner if he’s still available.