Fourteen Michigan players participated in the 2017 NFL Draft Combine. Without being in the interview room, here’s my take on who gained ground, who’s treading water, and who had a less than stellar performance:
Jeremy Clark – CB
Measurements: 6’3″, 220 lbs., 32 7/8″ arms, 9 3/8″ hands
Skills: 20 bench press reps of 225 lbs.
Why is he a winner? Clark is a winner just by getting invited to the Combine, because he never started for a full season. He started for half of 2015 and then the first few games of 2016 before tearing his ACL. You can tell that teams are intrigued by his considerable size, or else he wouldn’t have been invited. Can he be a Richard Sherman-style cornerback? Is he a strong safety like Kam Chancellor? Or is he just a guy?
Amara Darboh – WR
Measurements: 6’2″, 214 lbs., 32 5/8″ arms, 9 7/8″ hands
Skills: 4.45 forty, 36″ vertical, 12’4″ broad jump, 17 bench press reps of 225 lbs.
Why is he a winner? He didn’t test in all the agility drills, but his forty time was better than almost anyone expected, and his 36″ vertical was superb, too. Add in a respectable 17 reps on the bench, and he maybe seems like more than a possession guy. Teams also look at hand size for skills guys, and his hands are the same size as the 6’6″ Ben Braden.
Ben Gedeon – LB
Measurements: 6’2″, 244 lbs., 32 5/8″ arms, 10″ hands
Skills: 4.75 forty, 34.5″ vertical, 9’11” broad jump, 27 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 6.98 three-cone drill, 4.13 twenty-yard shuttle, 11.58 sixty-yard shuttle
Why is he a winner? Michigan’s leading tackler was deemed by some to be a big, brawny guy with limited athleticism, but I really liked his all-around football skills coming out of high school. He’s a better athlete than a lot of people expect from a 6’2″, 244 lb. MIKE. His bench press and both shuttle times were top performer-worthy in his position group, and his 34.5″ vertical is significant. While the forty time isn’t great, it’s not necessarily a limiting factor for a true middle linebacker.
Delano Hill – S
Measurements: 6’1″, 216 lbs., 32 1/8″ arms, 9 3/8″ hands
Skills: 4.47 forty, 17 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 33.5″ vertical, 9’7″ broad jump, 6.96 three-cone drill, 4.27 twenty-yard shuttle
Why is he a winner? This is the type of situation where Hill shines. He hasn’t shown a ton of playmaking ability throughout his career, but he was always known as a workout warrior. That 4.47 forty put him in the top performer category for safeties, and his other numbers are solid, too. He ran that time at a solid 216 lbs., too. Hill probably isn’t a guy who’s in danger of breaking into the top half of the draft, but some teams might look at him and see a guy who can play special teams at the very least.
Ben Braden – OT
Measurements: 6’6″, 329 lbs., 34″ arms, 9 7/8″ hands
Skills: 5.04 forty, 28″ vertical, 8’6″ broad jump, 25 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 7.85 three-cone drill, 4.90 twenty-yard shuttle
Why is he treading water? NFL teams are going to count on his game performance as much as anything, and they probably already knew that he was a good athlete. He’s been Michigan’s fastest – or one of the fastest – linemen for the last several years, and that 5.04 time in the forty is pretty darn good for a 6’6″, 329-pounder. Toss in his vertical and agility times, and the question isn’t about whether he’s an athlete or not. The question is about why he wasn’t a better performer on the field.
Taco Charlton – DE
Measurements: 6’5 5/8″, 277 lbs., 34 1/4″ arms, 9 3/4″ hands
Skills: 4.92 forty, 33″ vertical, 9’8″ broad jump, 25 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 7.17 three cone drill, 4.39 twenty yard shuttle
Why is he treading water? Charlton is a riser since the beginning of his senior year, but he was already sliding up draft boards for his play during the second half of the year. Some mock drafts had him in the first round prior to the Combine. His numbers weren’t outstanding, but they’ll keep him in the conversation for the first round, maybe the second.
Jehu Chesson – WR
Measurements: 6’3″, 204 lbs., 33 1/4″ arms, 9 1/8″ arms
Skills: 4.47 forty, 35.5″ vertical, 11′ broad jump, 10 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 4.09 twenty-yard shuttle, 6.7 three-cone drill
Why is he treading water? Chesson’s on-field performance was stellar during the second half of 2015 and mediocre in 2016. Chesson is another high-character kid, and he got a chance this week to explain to teams what happened to him during his senior year. According to interviews made public, he acknowledged that he was still struggling with his recovery from the knee injury he suffered in the bowl game against Florida at the end of 2015.
Ryan Glasgow – DT
Measurements: 6’3″, 302 lbs., 33 3/8″ arms, 9 5/8″ hands
Skills: 5.14 forty, 27.5″ vertical, 10’9″ broad jump, 20 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 7.55 three-cone drill, 4.5 twenty-yard shuttle
Why is he treading water? Glasgow didn’t light the world on fire, and his bench press was slightly disappointing for a guy who’s considered to be a strongman. But the tape doesn’t lie, and he has plenty of film showing himself standing up to double-teams, getting some penetration, and being a very solid interior lineman in a big-time conference. He wasn’t offered scholarships coming out of high school because he’s not a stellar athlete, but it’s a different story when he puts pads on.
Jourdan Lewis – CB
Measurements: 5’10”, 188 lbs., 31 5/8″ arms, 9 1/4″ hands
Skills: 4.54 forty, 15 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 34.5″ vertical, 10’1″ broad jump
Why is he treading water? Considering the times of other defensive backs at the Combine – or even just at Michigan – the 4.54 time in the forty wasn’t impressive. He’s never been known for his blazing speed, but he has shown good agility, playmaking skills, and physicality. That physical feistiness is backed up by his size (some thought he would be shorter) and strength. He’s a good player, if a bit undersized, and I don’t think his draft grade will be greatly affected by what he showed at the Combine.
Jabrill Peppers – S/LB
Measurements: 5’10 7/8″ tall, 213 lbs., 30 3/4″ arms, 9 5/8″ hands
Skills: 4.46 forty, 19 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 10’8″ broad jump, 35.5″ vertical
Why is he treading water? He had nowhere to go but down since he was considered a potential first rounder, and he seemed to stay put. He worked out with both the linebackers and defensive backs, which occurred on the fly. He’s shorter than expected at a shade under 5’11”, and that might inhibit some people from thinking he could bulk up to be a full-time linebacker. His numbers weren’t off the charts, but it’s impressive how well rounded of an athlete he is. His agility might even be more impressive than the drills he participated in at the Combine, but teams are going to have to wait for his pro day to see him do some short-area drills.
Jake Butt – TE
Measurements: 6’5″, 246 lbs., 32″ arms, 10″ hands
Why is he a loser? With the torn ACL he suffered in Michigan’s bowl game, he was unable to participate in the athleticism and field drills. And since it’s his second ACL tear, teams are probably questioning whether he can stay healthy. He’s a team captain and a high-character kid, but he couldn’t help himself much at the Combine.
De’Veon Smith – RB
Measurements: 5’11 1/8″, 223 lbs., 29 1/2″ hands, 9″ hands
Skills: 29″ vertical, 9′ broad jump, 22 bench press reps of 225 lbs., 11.75 sixty-yard shuttle, 4.56 twenty-yard shuttle, 7.30 three-cone drill
Why is he a loser? Smith is what he is, and there have been plenty of discussions regarding him on this blog and elsewhere. The biggest question mark about him is his speed, and he chose not to participate in the forty-yard dash. That seems to indicate that he himself has questions about his speed, and he didn’t take the opportunity to try to prove people wrong.
Channing Stribling – CB
Measurements: 6’1″, 188 lbs., 31.5″ arms, 8.5″ hands
Skills: 4.68 forty, 31.5″ vertical, 9’6″ broad jump, 6.94 three-cone drill, 4.56 twenty-yard shuttle, 5 bench press reps of 225 lbs.
Why is he a loser? Stribling tied for the fewest bench press reps (with SDSU running back Donnell Pumphrey) at the whole Combine, and the next fewest was 8, which a handful of wide receivers repped out. A few bigger teammates (244 lb. Ben Gedeon, 277 lb. Taco Charlton, 223 lb. De’Veon Smith) notched faster twenty-yard shuttle times than Stribling’s 4.56. His forty time wasn’t great for a cornerback, either. Add in that his arm length and hand size aren’t impressive, either, and you have to admire him for doing as well as he did at Michigan with such mediocre athletic gifts. He had a solid 2016 season, but this Combine wasn’t kind to him.
Chris Wormley – DE
Measurements: 6’5″, 298 lbs., 34 1/8″ arms, 10 1/2″ hands
Skills: 23 bench press reps of 225 lbs.
Why is he a loser? Wormley apparently suffered a lower body injury, though I’m not sure if it happened in training or during the Combine itself. Regardless, his bench press was solid and his measurements are impressive, but he didn’t get much of a chance to show off his athleticism. By all accounts, his speed and agility are considered to be strengths for a guy who’s 6’5″ and was listed at 304 lbs. during the season, so he missed out on an opportunity to wow the scouts.
Michigan’s pro day will be held on March 24.
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