Nike’s The Opening participants: Michigan

Tag: Mike McCray


29Jun 2018
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Nike’s The Opening participants: Michigan

Jourdan Lewis and Delano Hill were two of Michigan’s ten eventual signees to participate in Nike’s The Opening in 2012

2018
Stephen Herron, Jr., DE – Louisville, KY
Cade McNamara, QB – Reno, NV
D.J. Turner II, CB – Suwanee, GA

2017
Gemon Green, CB – DeSoto, TX
Cameron McGrone, LB – Indianapolis, IN
Myles Sims, CB – Atlanta, GA
Christian Turner, RB – Buford, GA

2016
Jordan Anthony, LB – Bradenton, FL
Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S – Detroit, MI
Oliver Martin, WR – Iowa City, IA
Dylan McCaffrey, QB – Littleton, CO
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR – Detroit, MI
Joshua Ross, LB – Orchard Lake, MI
Cesar Ruiz, C – Bradenton, FL
O’Maury Samuels, RB – Los Lunas, NM
Drew Singleton, LB – Paramus, NJ
Benjamin St-Juste, CB – Montreal, Canada
Ambry Thomas, CB – Detroit, MI

Hit the jump for more.

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28Apr 2018
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NFL Draft Results, UDFA Signings

Maurice Hurst, Jr.

Here’s a brief summary of the draft and post-draft activities for Michigan players:

DRAFTED PLAYERS
3rd round: Mason Cole – C – Arizona Cardinals (#97 overall)
5th round: Maurice Hurst, Jr. – DT – Oakland Raiders (#140 overall)

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
Khalid Hill – FB – Seattle Seahawks
Mike McCray II – LB – Miami Dolphins
John O’Korn – QB – Detroit Lions
Kyle Bosch – C/OG – Carolina Panthers*

Congratulations to all these guys for getting a chance to play at the next level!

*Bosch played his final three seasons at West Virginia after starting his career at Michigan

25Apr 2018
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2018 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan

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:

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17Jan 2018
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Mailbag: The Development of Mike McCray

Mike McCray

Here’s a question from mejunglechop:

Hi Thunder, huge fan, but this is my first time commenting. I apologize in advance for the number of questions.

First I’ll say I really enjoyed reading through your original Hello post. It was interesting that your rating, although, controversially low at the time, turned out to be prescient. McCray has turned into a good Big Ten starter with some NFL draft potential.

My big question(s) for you looking back :
Originally you thought McCray’s best fit might come at SAM as you thought this would maximize the strengths you saw in his tape (straight line speed combined with size and coverage instincts) while mitigating his weaknesses (forcing him to play more aggressive and downhill). McCray eventually became a very good downhill Mike. Do you think this is more attributable to Don Brown’s scheme and how he uses his Mikes, or McCray developing better instincts reading run plays? If Mike McCray was a prospect being signed today do you think the staff would recruit and develop him for a Noah Furbush style SAM role or would they see him as a Mike prospect?

Check out the answer below the jump.

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11Jan 2018
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Goodbye, Mike McCray II

Mike McCray II (image via Land of 10)

HIGH SCHOOL

McCray attended Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison and was a part of the 2013 graduating class, just a few years after Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree graduated from Trotwood-Madison. McCray is the son of a former Ohio State captain, so it was thought that he would end up a Buckeye, but Ohio State never offered the younger McCray. He picked Michigan over offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, along with many others. I gave him a final TTB Rating of 74 (LINK).

COLLEGE

McCray redshirted as a freshman in 2013. In Brady Hoke’s final year as coach, McCray played special teams and as a backup linebacker, most notably blocking a punt against Appalachian State in the opener that was returned for a TD by Ben Gedeon. However, a pre-existing shoulder injury was aggravated in the spring of 2015, and he redshirted that year; there were rumors that the shoulder injury would end his career, and indeed he wore a harness on his shoulder for the next two years. When he did return in 2016, he was Honorable Mention All-Big Ten with 76 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (including a TD against Florida State in the Orange Bowl), and 9 pass breakups. He followed that up with another Honorable Mention All-Big Ten season in 2017, finishing with 84 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup.

CAREER STATS

161 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (for 36 yards and 1 TD), 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 8 pass breakups

AWARDS

Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (2016, 2017)
Team Captain (2017)
Robert P. Ufer Bequest for enthusiasm (2017)

SUMMARY

McCray had a career that I feel I have come to expect from Michigan linebackers. Michigan isn’t the Miami Hurricanes when they had a steady flow of elite ‘backers for many years. They never have been. McCray is a guy who didn’t contribute much during his first few years on campus, but when it was time for him to play, he did an admirable job. Despite being listed at 6’4″ and 248 lbs. – pretty large for a college inside linebacker – he was surprisingly adept at reading quarterbacks’ eyes and defending the pass. On top of that, he’s #12 in career tackles for loss at Michigan, though admittedly the school didn’t start tracking that stat until the mid-1990s. I feel he got a bad rap at times for his struggles to cover running backs out of the backfield on wheel routes, but those plays are designed to take advantage of 6’4″, 248 lb. guys trying to cover the likes of Dalvin Cook and Saquon Barkley out of the backfield. Defensive coordinator Don Brown basically said, “Yes, they’re going to hit some plays against him, but I’ll take my chances.” At his size, if McCray had the speed and athleticism to cover Barkley or Cook on wheel routes, we would be talking about a potential first or second round pick.

I WILL REMEMBER HIM FOR . . . 

. . . his punt block against Appalachian State in 2014 that was returned for a touchdown by Ben Gedeon.

PROJECTION

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.

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