After the departures of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, the Michigan Wolverines incorporated a pass-rush-by-committee approach the last two seasons under defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. This style was deployed to account for the loss of the two megastar pass rushers and also to take advantage of Michigan’s depth at the position. Two players that greatly benefitted from this approach are 2024 NFL Draft entrants Jaylen Harrell and Braiden McGregor.
Harrell and McGregor are not players that will be highly discussed or projected in the early rounds, but instead are two NFL-ready niche players that will have an immediate impact in the right system. Fortunately for these two, every NFL team needs pass rushers and pass-rushing depth, and this veteran duo has demonstrated a proven ability to wreak havoc in an NFL system.
Factoring in draft needs, positioning, and the early analysis, where are the most likely/best landing spots for Harrell and McGregor? Let’s take a closer look at where to expect them to be drafted in April.
Jaylen Harrell is a rangy, hyper-intelligent pass-rushing specialist who was one of the biggest winners at the Senior Bowl. It was well known that Harrell could twist and stunt all across the defensive line, but his speed, hand-fighting, and ability to consistently win one-on-one matchups shocked evaluators all week.
Michigan’s Jaylen Harrell has caught my eye coming off of the EDGE today. Harrell has been bringing the pressure! pic.twitter.com/LHr5mcvZoR— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) February 1, 2024
If Harrell can follow up this performance with solid measurables, a quick shuttle, and an elite 10-yard split in his 40-yard dash, he could sneak into the late-third/early-fourth round.
There are a myriad of NFL teams that will covet Harrell between the fourth and sixth rounds and several destinations make sense. With his football IQ, speed, and athleticism, Harrell will thrive at the next level in a 3-4 scheme. The Steelers, Packers, and Ravens all make sense but look for Harrell to be reunited with a familiar head coach in the northwest.
Best landing spot: Seattle Seahawks
When evaluating players, NFL scouts are solely focused on who the prospect could become, not who they are now —whether that be projecting from college tape, looking at the player’s traits, or a combination of both. While Briaden McGregor does have flashes of good film, he is a player who will be primarily drafted because of his traits.
Standing at 6’6, 267 pounds, McGregor is a freak who can play standing up, with his hand in the dirt, and across multiple positions on the defensive front. McGregor is a high-IQ veteran who can play the run as well as rush the passer with an elite speed-to-power move.
Alabama’s first possession.— Due# (@JDue51) January 3, 2024
Michigan in zone coverage and only rushes 4 but it’s enough.
Braiden McGregor breezes by 74 who thinks he has help from his guard. He does not.
And it’s a 15 yard loss. pic.twitter.com/u7IY5cK57L
McGregor’s Senior Bowl performance didn’t set the world on fire, but it didn’t bottom out his stock either. Teams will start to consider the Michigan veteran in the later rounds and what better spot for McGregor than the Raiders where he could be the backup/stunt double for NFL All-Pro Maxx Crosby? That is unless his former coaching staff gets ahold of him first.