2018 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan

2018 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan


April 25, 2018

Maurice Hurst, Jr.

The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft will be taking place on Thursday evening, April 26. I don’t know about you, but this is one of the top few biggest sporting events of the year for me.

There aren’t many players leaving from a young Michigan team, so this is a much shorter list than it was in 2017. I posted their Pro Day results back in March (LINK). Here’s a look at the prospective NFLers from the Maize and Blue:

Maurice Hurst, Jr., DT (SENIOR PROFILE)
Measureables: 
6’1″, 291 lbs., 77″ wingspan, 9 3/4″ hand size, 29 x 225 bench, 4.91 forty, 31″ vertical, 7.71 three-cone drill, 4.62 shuttle, 8’8.75″ broad jump
What I said in his senior profile: I used to doubt that the NFL would look at Hurst as a can’t-miss draft pick and take him in the top 10 or so, but that seems more likely now. NFL teams have had a chance to take a long, hard look at Hurst, and they have to like what they see. I can’t help having some doubts about him succeeding at the same level in the NFL as a 282 lb. nose tackle, but he’s done it against anyone and everyone in college. Maybe he plays 3-tech at the next level, and the size might prevent him from going in the top half of the first round, but there’s no way he drops out of the first round. I keep seeing him coming off the board in the 20-25 range in mock drafts, and that seems about right. The NFL game in 2018 seems more conducive to having a smaller, quicker guy who can rush the passer and split double-teams, so Hurst could carve out a long career.
Has anything changed? Yes. Hurst was sent home from the NFL Combine after he was found to have an irregular EKG. It turns out he had known about some heart issues at Michigan, but he was cleared to play, anyway. Now there is some question about how much of a risk NFL teams will take on him, since it’s tough to try to build a franchise if one of your top picks suddenly has to retire due to health issues.

Mason Cole, OC/OG (SENIOR PROFILE)
Measureables: 
6’4″, 308 lbs., 78.5″ wingspan, 9 5/8″ hand size, 27.5″ vertical, 4.85 shuttle
What I said in his senior profile: The NFL is looking at Cole as an interior lineman, most likely a center. The aforementioned short arms will preclude him from playing tackle, and he’s probably not an ideal drive blocker to play the guard position. When NFL coaches had a chance to slot him in somewhere, they made him play center at the Senior Bowl, even though he hadn’t played the position in a game since 2016. Centers aren’t viewed as being extremely valuable in the NFL Draft, so I think we will probably see Cole drafted somewhere around the 4th round.
Has anything changed? If anything different, I think Cole would go lower than the 4th round. I think teams will like his versatility (he played OC, LT, and a bit of OG), but he was never a standout at any position. A team in need of a swing guy might take a shot at him in the 4th.

Mike McCray II, LB (SENIOR PROFILE)
Measureables:

What I said in his senior profile: McCray was a productive inside linebacker who looks like a 3-4 inside linebacker at the next level. He’s not an edge rusher, and I wonder if Michigan kept him at WILL linebacker instead of MIKE to cut down on how much contact he would take with a bad shoulder. He’s not your typical WILL, and his primary backup is the shorter, smaller former safety Devin Gil. McCray may have been a SAM linebacker in a 4-3, but some of those guys have disappeared or morphed into different body types now that the NFL is a passing league. McCray has the size and athleticism to play in the NFL. I think he has pretty good awareness and is more of a zone coverage guy than a man coverage player. He should be a third day pick in the NFL Draft as long as his shoulder holds up to teams’ scrutiny.
Has anything changed? No. I think McCray should still be a late round pick.

Khalid Hill, TE (SENIOR PROFILE)
Measureables: 
6’2″, 263 lbs., 75.75″ wingspan, 9 3/8″ hand size, 21 x 225 bench
What I said in his senior profile: Hill was not invited to the NFL Combine, and fullbacks aren’t a huge part of the pro game right now. Teams will usually carry no more than one guy at his position, and as mentioned above, he’s not tall enough to be a team’s starting tight end. If he wants to make it in the NFL, I believe he will have to sign as an undrafted free agent and make the squad as a bit of an oddball guy who goes on the field mostly as a second or third tight end in heavy packages. He could end up being a poor man’s Brandon Manumaleuna.
Has anything changed? No. I still expect Hill to go undrafted, with a chance to slip into the 6th or 7th round.

Ty Isaac, RB (SENIOR PROFILE)
Measureables: 
6’2″, 227 lbs., 4.72 forty
What I said in his senior profile: I don’t think Isaac will get drafted. It’s rare that 3rd string running backs get drafted, and it’s supposed to be a fairly deep class of running backs. But if I’m an NFL team, I’ve got my eye on Isaac as an undrafted free agent. Running backs are being used more and more in the passing game, and Isaac has the ability to contribute in that phase of the game.
Has anything changed? Nope.

Henry Poggi, FB (SENIOR PROFILE)
Measureables: 
6’2″, 243 lbs., 75″ wingspan, 9 1/8″ hand size, 17 x 225 bench, 5.03 forty, 30″ vertical, 7.22 three-cone drill, 4.44 shuttle, 9’2.5″ broad jump
What I said in his senior profile: As I mentioned above, I wonder if the move to fullback was a death knell for his opportunity at an NFL career. NFL teams generally keep approximately one fullback on the roster, and they are also rarely of the 6’4″, 257 lb. variety. Poggi has very little experience blocking as an in-line tight end, and he probably doesn’t have the athleticism to be an NFL H-back. While there was a lot of competition for playing time on the defensive line at Michigan, that would have fit his body type better, and he would have received the full Greg Mattison Effect that has sent the likes of Ryan Glasgow, Willie Henry, and others (who were higher rated) on to NFL careers. I don’t see Poggi getting drafted, and I don’t really envision him having a long career as a free agent.
Has anything changed? Not at all. He is still very unlikely to be drafted.

UNLIKELY TO BE DRAFTED

Patrick Kugler, OC (SENIOR PROFILE)
Why? Kugler has already accepted an opportunity to be a graduate assistant at Michigan in the fall, and his performance was not up to par for the NFL, anyway.

John O’Korn, QB (SENIOR PROFILE)
Why?
O’Korn never showed an ability to grasp the nuances of Michigan’s pro-style offense, and his numbers were terrible as a fifth year senior when he was pressed into a starting role for a while. Despite confidence that he’s the best prepared quarterback in the draft, not a single NFL team will agree with him.

Mike Wroblewski, LB
Why? Wroblewski was never a starter at Michigan, and that pretty much means he won’t be drafted. It will be an uphill climb for him to even get a sniff as an undrafted free agent, though his pro day numbers were impressive: 6’2″, 238 lbs., 76″ wingspan, 9 3/4″ hand size, 24 x 225 bench, 4.7 forty, 32″ vertical, 6.73 three-cone drill, 4.2 shuttle, 9′ 6.25″ broad jump

14 comments

  1. Comments: 1145
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Apr 25, 2018 at 7:04 AM

    I’d bring Wrobolewsky in for a look after the draft. He can run. If you think he can cover with some coaching, he might be a real nice, priced right pickup.

  2. Comments: 166
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Extrajuice
    Apr 25, 2018 at 9:31 AM

    I agree with your opening statement. My brother and I have had a private draft party since 1991 (Herman Moore to the Lions) for every draft (except 1998.. damn Terry Fair). Personally, I’d much rather go back to Saturday afternoon draft. I love the 1st-3rd rounds. Saturday made it full days worth of fun and we usually knew most of the guys from rounds 1-3. I don’t like the weekday draft, nor do I like the traveling circus it’s become.

    A couple Michigan player draft memories I have:
    1. Being disappointed that the Lions missed out Steve Hutchinson by 1 pick.
    2. Being more disappointed that 1 pick later we took Backus
    3. Thinking Desmond Howard was maybe a reach at #4 overall
    4. Thinking Braylon Edwards was going to be AWESOME for the Browns at #3
    5. I was disappointed the Lions drafted Aaron Gibson instead of Jon Jansen (who I played with in little league baseball)
    6. Thought David Terrell would be a solid pro
    7. Believed Jake Long was going to be a HOFer and deserving #1 pick
    8. Believed Devin Funchess would be a BUST in the league
    9. Thought Tim Biakabutuka would be a solid pro but not a top 10 pick
    10. I wanted the Lions to draft Drew Henson thinking he would come back to football and be a stud!

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 3828
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:04 PM

    Running backs don’t matter.

    Allowing for some hyperbole, and the notable exception that some rare difference-makers do, that’s been the core notion behind many of my RB-related debates over the last few years.

    In the past few weeks there have been a slew of analytics-driven articles that support this line of thought. e.g., NFL RB salaries are second lowest on average, ahead of only FBs. e.g., Half of super bowl winning teams lately have UDFA backs.

    Amongst the many articles these two stood out for having piles of evidence:

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/heres-why-drafting-saquon-barkley-could-be-a-mistake/

    http://www.numberfire.com/nfl/news/19933/saquon-barkley-may-be-a-generational-talent-but-he-ll-still-be-overdrafted

    That second link has a ton of data but for those that don’t buy in there’s some excellent anectodal examples of how star RBs go out without impacting team success in any significant way.

    Finally a quote/excerpt from the article:

    Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

    • Comments: 963
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Apr 26, 2018 at 9:14 PM

      Sure, RB falls well below QB, DL, Secondary, etc
      But to say a great RB isn’t important, well, ask Nick Saban (or any Coach). All else equal, Urban Meyer would rather have Curtis Samuel over Derrick Green; Kirby Smart would rather have Sony Michel than Madre London. Those are more facts, but some people are very selective of the information they’re willing to accept. Lank, it’s called confirmation bias

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3828
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Apr 27, 2018 at 1:51 PM

        Your opinion about someone else’s opinion is not a fact.

        • Comments: 963
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Apr 28, 2018 at 2:45 AM

          My opinion? About a coaches opinion? I’m pointing out who they chose to recruit lank!

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3828
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Apr 27, 2018 at 2:02 PM

        Curtis Samuel is a WR. Thunder uses an NFL position change to buttress his argument that Denard Robinson isn’t a good QB and that can go here too if you like. I don’t agree with that logic, but I do think the fact that Meyer elected to give the various other RBs way more often than Samuel speaks to his relative lack of importance.

        Sony Michel wasn’t even a clearcut starter on his team and his performance was entirely replaceable by the other options on that roster.

        These guys are fine players and all but they aren’t impact players. They go down, another player goes in without any significant drop-off in team performance. The links point out how that’s true even for big name stars like Levon Bell.

        I def agree there’s some confirmation bias going on here JE93.

        • Comments: 963
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Apr 28, 2018 at 2:47 AM

          Sony Michel shared with another blue Chip back, Nick Chub. It’s not like he was sharing reps with Kingston Davis…

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3828
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Apr 30, 2018 at 11:06 AM

            That was the same excuse I heard for why Ty Isaac was 5th string at USC. Meanwhile he got to Michigan and ended up behind Derrick Green.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 3828
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:05 PM

    Oops Ty Issac is on the wrong list.

  5. Comments: 533
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Apr 28, 2018 at 2:35 AM

    It makes sense to pass on Hurst in the 1st round but not past that and especially past the 2nd round. What kind of money are we talking about and is Hurst worth the risk as a 2nd rounder? Of course.

    Next point. It’s not like Hurst is being signed to a 10 year contract. Didn’t Hurst just play college football? Come on. The world doesn’t come to an end if a late 2nd round pick can’t play football anymore. Would a team draft a player who performed well for 2 years if drafted in the 2nd round? Of course.

    Hurst is a victim of human stupidity.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2614
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Apr 28, 2018 at 5:52 AM

      Teams are still looking for instant-impact and long-term guys in round 2. I think you see teams start taking risks/projects more in approximately the 4th round.

  6. Comments: 533
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Apr 28, 2018 at 1:11 PM

    That is true but we are talking risk management here. Is Hurst worth the risk as a late 2nd round or a 3rd round pick? Teams trade down all the time. My point is simple. If Hurst was a 3rd round talent then you wouldn’t draft him in the 3rd round. Not worth the risk. If he is a 1st round talent then you do draft him in the 3rd round. Worth the risk. It’s a 3rd round pick and if these picks were so valuable then teams wouldn’t trade down all the time.

    Ask yourself the million dollar question. What is the difference between a 3rd and 4th round pick? Can’t really tell me. I would love to hear from anyone the ‘hit’ ratio between a 3rd and 4th round pick on making an NFL roster. 3%? Backup?

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 3828
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Apr 30, 2018 at 11:10 AM

    O’Korn got an NFL invite. As of now he’s in the same spot as McCray and Hill.

    Wrobeleski has not gotten an NFL invite. As of now, he’s in the same spot as Isaac and Kugler.

    Interesting to me.

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