The Michigan Wolverines have hit on hard times lately (by their own lofty standards), and it’s been reflected via the NFL Draft. In the late ’90’s and early ’00’s, Michigan would regularly enjoy 5, 6 or more draft picks. Now it’s 2, 3 tops. But it’s still Michigan, and they still recruit elite athletes. So who are the top NFL Draft prospects on the field this fall?
Offensively, there’s not a ton of prospects, at least not eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft. In truth most of the top offensive prospects for the Wolverines are still underclassmen, like Derrick Green and Shane Morris. But two guys who are eligible and are worth mentioning are senior QB Devin Gardner and junior WR/TE Devin Funchess.
Gardner is the classic college dual threat who’s an excellent athlete and has impressive ball-carrying skills, but has miles to go in terms of becoming a professional passer. I don’t think Gardner will ever be a QB at the next level, similar to his predecessor Denard Robinson, who’s now a RB. Gardner will likely be forced to make a switch, but I do think he’s a good enough athlete with enough size and length (6-foot 4, 220-pounds) to stick somewhere, probably at WR.
Funchess (6-foot 5, 230-pounds) is making the move from TE to WR and some are saying this will kill his draft stock because he’s going from super fast and explosive TE to potentially slow and plodding WR. Nah. All this will do is enhance his knowledge and fundamentals of the position and improve his receiving skills. Can he revert back to TE at the next level? Of course. But could he also turn into another Kelvin Benjamin? We’ll find out this fall when he replaces Jeremy Gallon as the top pass-catching option on the team.
Michigan is entering a season (seemingly for the first time) without a sure-fire All-American candidate up front in the trenches. Nope, no highly awarded senior linemen up here this year. That’s not to say there’s a void of talent, however, just a group that needs seasoning.
Junior center Graham Glasgow has good size (6-foot 6, 308-pounds) and experience at both center and guard. Sophomore guard Kyle Kalis is a guy I think will turn into a heck of a prospect with good upside, he just needs to continue his development. OT’s Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson, both sophomores, have impressive skill sets with great frames, and like Kalis and Glasgow, just need to continue developing and gaining more experience.
Do I necessarily think any of these prospects, all technically draft-eligible, will leave? I doubt it. Historically Michigan usually does a good job retaining highly talented linemen, but it will be interesting to see what happens if the Wolverines struggle this year and HC Brady Hoke loses his job.