The Michigan Wolverines defense got a massive overhaul this offseason with the hiring of coordinator Mike Macdonald, who will be bringing some Baltimore Ravens-esque flair to Ann Arbor. The Ravens have operated out of a base 3-4 defense for what feels like forever, but there has been some multiplicity in their defensive looks in recent years.
Michigan projects to run an odd front defense in base situations, but there are certain packages in play that would see the likes of Aidan Hutchinson, Taylor Upshaw, etc. playing upfront with their hands in the dirt. However, we will treat those guys as outside linebackers and cover them later this week.
Here is a look at how the defensive front two-deep depth chart should look. This might be the most cut-and-dry position on the roster right now.
Defensive Tackle: Christopher Hinton, junior (6-foot-4, 310 pounds)
Backup: Jess Speight, graduate senior (6-foot-5, 310 pounds)
This is a big year for the former five-star recruit. Hinton has slowly come on the last few seasons, but the third year in Ann Arbor is going to tell us a ton about how he factors in moving forward. He has the traits to be a powerful and explosive presence upfront. It’s time to put it all together. Speight has given Michigan some quality snaps, but probably is not a guy they would be crazy about having on the field for more than a breather in relief for someone else.
Nose Tackle: Mazi Smith, junior (6-foot-3, 326 pounds)
Backup: Jordan Whittley, graduate senior (6-foot-1, 348 pounds)
Smith is one of the verbal recipients of the “best offseason of his career” award for the progress he has made since the end of last season. Technical refinements have been needed in his game, but his standing is the same as Hinton’s. Year three and time to put it together. Whittley is a massive presence that should not have and problem eating up blocks, but he’s 26-years-old and is what he is at this point. Michigan needed a body there and he certainly is that and then some.
Defensive Tackle: Donovan Jeter, graduate senior (6-foot-3, 325 pounds)
Backup: Julius Welschof, senior (6-foot-6, 288 pounds)
Another defensive lineman, another guy who’s shown flashes but has been wildly inconsistent. The only thing that separates him from everyone else in this grouping is that he has been on campus longer. Michigan needs him to level out from bouts of brilliant play followed by a disappearing act. There are not a ton of candidates to supplant him aside from potentially Welschof. It is time to end his Michigan career with a bang.
Reserves: Rayshaun Benny (Fr.), Ike Iwunnah (Fr.), George Rooks (Fr.), Dominick Giudice (Fr.), Kris Jenkins (So.)