2010 Countdown: #6 Ryan Van Bergen

2010 Countdown: #6 Ryan Van Bergen

August 29, 2010

Name: Ryan Van Bergen
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 283 lbs.
High school: Whitehall High School in Whitehall, MI
Position: Defensive end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #53
Last year: I ranked Van Bergen #18 and said he’d have about 20 tackles and 2 sacks. He finished the season with 40 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 4 pass breakups.

As a redshirt freshman in 2008, there was a fair amount of hype about Van Bergen. He apparently had a motor that never stopped, was quick off the ball, blah blah blah, and he recorded 13 tackles. I wasn’t that impressed. Then he moved to defensive tackle for 2009, and I thought, Great, a 6’6″ defensive tackle who’s under 280 lbs. getting blown off the ball is just what we need. Except he didn’t get blown off the ball all the time. He actually held his ground for the most part, although that’s partially due to the fact that he was playing on a line with Brandon Graham and Mike Martin, both of whom deserve to be double-teamed most of the time.

Now Van Bergen is back to defensive end, and he’s taking the place of the aforementioned Graham. Graham was a superior athlete who also happened to develop a non-stop motor by his senior year. I don’t expect the same kind of production from #53 as Michigan got from #55 for the past couple years, but Van Bergen’s numbers and impact should improve slightly. And frankly, for this defense to be successful, Van Bergen and Co. on the defensive line are going to have to take their game to the next level. The secondary is inexperienced, and the linebackers are questionable. Van Bergen should be able to hold his own in the run game, and another year of training and coaching should have improved his pass rushing ability. He’s an important cog in this year’s team, because the backup defensive ends are either nondescript (Renaldo Sagesse, Anthony Lalota, Steve Watson) or very young (Jibreel Black, Jordan Paskorz). I think Jibreel Black is going to be a very good player by the time his career plays out at Michigan, but he’s just a true freshman.

Prediction for 2010: Starting defensive end; 55 tackles, 7.5 sacks

Voters chose Van Bergen with 67% of their votes.


  1. Comments: 21383
    Aug 29, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    TTB/Thunder, what do you think separates RVB from the elite players? He certainly seems to have sufficient size and adequate strength. Is it explosiveness? Stiffness? I could buy either one of those.

  2. Comments: 21383
    Aug 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    IMO, he's just not as fluid of an athlete as BG, and lacks the explosiveness that made BG so popular.

  3. Comments: 21383
    Aug 29, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    @ Anonymous 10:34 a.m.

    I would say "explosiveness" and "speed" are two big parts of the difference between him and Graham. I think both are intense players, and I think Van Bergen would be as good as Graham if he could choose to be. But at 6'6" tall, it's hard to be as quick off the ball and as athletic as Graham, who's about 6'2".

    Graham has leverage and speed that Van Bergen doesn't, but Van Bergen has a wingspan and size that Graham doesn't. They're two different players. Don't read too much into this comparison, but Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney are two very different players, despite playing the same position; yet they both get the job done.

  4. Comments: 21383
    Aug 29, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    Don't read too much into the comparison… that's what the internets are for.

    So RVB = Jared Allen

    I'll take it!

  5. Comments: 21383
    Michael S
    Aug 30, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    If only he had a mullet, he'd be unstoppable.

  6. Comments: 21383
    Aug 30, 2010 at 3:53 AM

    Magnus – please don't make Woolfolk #1. That would just be cruel.

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