The NFL Draft begins on Thursday evening and concludes on Saturday afternoon. During that time span, Michigan players have a chance of being selected all three days. The first round will air on Thursday night, and there’s a chance that at least one Michigan prospect will hear his name called.
Here’s the case for three players to be the first Wolverine picked in the NFL Draft.
CB D.J. Turner
Turner has displayed incredible athleticism during the draft process with a combine performance to remember. Turner ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine in February — his 4.26 time was the fourth-best at the combine since 2003. Speed is perhaps the top trait that scouts get enamored by and Turner’s draft stock is significantly higher than it was before the combine. Turner can play nickel corner and didn’t give up many big plays in coverage during his time at Michigan, and could end up as a late first or second-round selection. Turner had 36 tackles, one interception, and 11 pass breakups in 2022 with one fumble returned for a 45-yard touchdown.
DL Mazi Smith
Turner wasn’t the only Michigan player who did something notable at the combine, Smith turned heads too. Smith posted the best bench press total among all players at the combine — 34 reps of 225 pounds. Smith has long been thought of as an incredibly strong and versatile player, last year he was named the No. 1 freak in college football by The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. Smith can play in both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme and has a track record of being effective as a run-stopper. However, Smith’s lack of production in terms of tackles for loss and sacks means he’ll be a borderline late first-round pick or option in the second. Smith made 28 starts for Michigan with 88 tackles (39 solo).
TE Luke Schoonmaker
While Schoonmaker might not be the first of the three in this article to get drafted, he might wind up having the best career. Schoonmaker jettisoned to TE1 after Erick All’s season-ending injury last season and became one of quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s favorite targets. Schoonmaker has good speed for the position at 4.63, has the ability to stretch the field, and excels at making catches in traffic. What also helps Schoonmaker is the scheme he’s coming from, a pro-style offense with a lot of run-blocking wrinkles. Schoonmakers well-roundedness, and his ability to be an asset as a pass-catcher and blocker will help his draft stock. It would be a surprise to see Schoonmaker slip out of the second round. Schoonmaker had 35 receptions for 418 yards and three touchdowns last season.