New offensive coordinator Josh Gattis may think the running backs are Michigan’s “deepest position,” but the wide receivers remain the only acceptable answer, Josh.
While it remains to be seen what the Gattis offense will look like, everything provided by the coaches indicate explosive success for every pass-catcher.
Could Tarik Black work from the slot to have the best three receivers on the field at the same time? Will Gattis utilize size at split-end and shifty, explosive players in the slot? Will Michigan have its first 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Gallon in 2013?
Answers will begin to unravel in just a little more than a week, and excitement cannot be contained for this position group.
Here are my predictions for Michigan’s 2019 wide receiver depth chart.
WR1 - Donovan Peoples-Jones, Junior
Players who resemble Desmond Howard don’t come around Ann Arbor everyday.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, the most dynamic player on Michigan’s team, can impact the game in a myriad of different ways: from the slot, split wide, in sweeps and as a punt returner. At this point, I wouldn’t be that surprised to see him attempt a pass this season.
DPJ and quarterback Shea Patterson developed a chemistry last season that produced more sparks than Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born. Most noticeably, in the most important moment against Michigan State.
Peoples-Jones could be one of the five best receivers in the country in 2019.
WR2 - Nico Collins, Junior
Remember Braylon Edwards? Nico Collins is the second coming of the former Wolverine Biletnikoff Award winner.
At 6-foot-4, Collins is a large target with elite hands and exceptional body control that turns 50/50 balls into 90/10. While Collins could easily emerge as the No. 1 receiver in 2019, expect Nico Suave to do his best work in the red zone catching fade after fade.
WR3 - Tarik Black, Junior
Black was once the future of the position at Michigan, but injuries have derailed those plans the last two seasons.
Now, finally healthy, how good can Black be in 2019? Where will he operate within the offense?
Black is the biggest question mark in the group, but even 80 percent of what he flashed in 2017 could garner all-conference recognition across twelve games.
WR4 - Ronnie Bell, Sophomore
One of the most criticized recruits of 2018, Bell was only ranked above kicker Jake Moody in the entire class.
Bell finished last season averaging 18.1 yards per catch and scored two touchdowns. In 2019, he will be expected to operate primarily from the slot and work the seams of the defense.
In scramble drills and when Patterson is outside of the pocket, Bell becomes the most dangerous player on the field.
WR5 - Mike Sainristil, Freshman
The talk around spring ball kept circling back to the freshman.
While under 6-feet, Sainristil is an electric player with the ball in his hands, who never goes down on first contact. For a new offense that has been described as “speed in space,” a spark plug like Sainristil cannot be utilized enough.
WR6 - Cornelius Johnson, Freshman
“He’s a young guy, he’s still learning. But he’s gonna be a great guy. Later on in the future, he’s gonna be the man. I’m calling it! First one to say it!” — Nico Collins
Say no more, fam.
He may be sixth on here now, but Johnson’s depth chart ascension could happen as soon as this year.
Keep in mind, all six receivers could return in 2020.
Giles Jackson, Jacob West, Jake McCurry, Brendan White, George Johnson, Jake Martin, Jack Young, Matt Torey, Tyler Grosz, Hunter Neff, Nate Schoenle, Desmond Nicholas, and Matthew Harrison represent a combination of practice teamers, aspiring letter winners, rotational pieces and special teams players.
Don’t sleep on players from this group.
The season is upon us, folks.