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Jalen Mayfield has a chance to make some waves on a national level

Expectations are sky-high for the offensive line’s only returning starter.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Michigan State at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it might do so with empty stadiums or a limited schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.

Jalen Mayfield, RS SO

247 Composite Ranking: 4 stars (OT 16, Overall 268)
2019 Stats: 13 games started (RT)

While skill positions often get the attention on offense, the best player on that side of the ball might be stationed on the right side of the line. Michigan has a long history of dominant offensive lineman, and Jalen Mayfield looks to be the next in line. A breakout 2019 season saw him earn some All-Big Ten accolades, and he is quickly gaining more attention around the country.

In fact, many mock drafts have him as a first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft. Mayfield is a stud tackle who can hold his own against the best of them and he carries a ton of momentum into 2020. Given his ability, it seems like he could probably play left tackle as well, but the Wolverines are likely to keep him where he is and let someone like Ryan Hayes man the left side of the line. With zero other returning starters along the group, it makes a lot of sense to keep Mayfield where they know he excels.

Will Mayfield continue to dominate and put up a first round-caliber season?

Few players are locks for first-round selection, but Mayfield is probably the closest the team has to a top pick heading into 2020. As a recruit, evaluators identified his clear NFL potential and cited a high-ceiling should his development go as planned. If 2019 is any indication, the redshirt sophomore is right on track and should have plenty of good things ahead of him.

Mayfield has the frame to compete at the next level, though he may fare better on the right due to his height. His athleticism and mobility allow him to match up with any opponent and he has really worked on his strength during his time in Ann Arbor. It takes all offensive line prospects time to grow, and everything he has done has been right on schedule. A few appearances in his first year were good enough for him to step right into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman, and he was clearly ready for the challenge.

All eyes were on Mayfield heading into The Game, and he looked pretty convincing against Chase Young. The Big Ten boasts plenty of strong edge rushers — as does Alabama, against whom he also played well — and this has given him a platform to showcase his abilities. His season was by no means perfect, and the next step forward would be consistency in pass blocking, which is vital with a new quarterback starting behind him. A player of his caliber should be expected to keep improving, however, and there is no reason to think he cannot make strides in this area.

Michigan absolutely needs Mayfield to be as good, and better, than he was last season. The rest of the offensive line is full of inexperience, but having one of the top tackles in the nation to provide a foundation should help the transition a bit. As solid as Mayfield is right now, most of the conversations regarding his future revolve around the idea of potential. The smart money would be on him taking another big step forward and hearing his name called next spring.