Brandon Graham – DE/OLB
Graham is certain to be Michigan’s highest drafted player, projected by most “experts” as a mid-1st to early-2nd round pick. At 6’1″ and 268 lbs., he’s likely too short to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. There are very few 4-3 teams who like to play undersized ends like Graham. He’s more likely to be drafted to play outside linebacker by a team that runs a 3-4 scheme. Luckily for him, there has been a recent uptick in the number of teams who run base 3-4 fronts. He has excellent straight-line speed and benches 495 lbs., according to Michigan strength coach Mike Barwis. He suffered from a lack of conditioning and discipline early in his career at Michigan, but the last two years have seen Graham turn into a leader on and off the field. The effort level is there now in a way that it wasn’t when he was a freshman and sophomore.
Projection and potential destinations: 1st round between picks 12-29 (Miami, Seattle, New England, Green Bay, Arizona, New York Jets)
Donovan Warren – CB/S
After Graham, nobody is guaranteed to get drafted. Warren hurt himself with a couple slow 40 times, although his game speed was better than the reported 4.68 he ran at the NFL Combine. He’s run so slow, in fact, that some teams have suggested Warren might fit better as a safety in the NFL. Warren left Michigan after his junior season, but his production was less than one might expect from a “shutdown” Michigan corner. He’s a solid tackler with average ball skills. He offers no additional skills as a return man and, for the most part, doesn’t have the athleticism to be a big threat on interception returns. His upside is low, but he performed well enough on the field (although not necessarily in workouts) to warrant a late round pick. If he plays cornerback in the NFL, I think it has to be for a team that plays a good deal of Cover 2. Otherwise, he’s a free safety in the making.
Projection and potential destinations: 6th round (Tampa Bay, Chicago, Indianapolis, Green Bay, New England, Minnesota)
Zoltan Mesko – P
Mesko is generally considered to be the second-best punter in the draft. He gets excellent hangtime, which prevents him from outkicking his coverage. I always wondered if the rugby-style punts that Rich Rodriguez employs would hurt Mesko’s ability to be a straight dropback punter, and for whatever reason, his workouts for pro teams have reportedly been subpar. Those two things might not be related, but it’s interesting to consider. He was voted captain of Michigan’s team in 2009, so he’s likely not a Mike Vanderjagt-like bonehead of a specialist. His lack of kickoff experience might hurt him in the eyes of some general managers. On the plus side, he did 16 reps on the bench press at 225 lbs.
Projection and potential destinations: 7th round (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Miami, Denver)
Brandon Minor – RB
You will find no bigger fan of Brandon Minor than me. I love the way he runs the ball, his power, and the way he finishes runs. He also has underrated speed. Unfortunately, he rarely stayed healthy at Michigan, which hurt his production and surely NFL personnel people have flagged him for his injuries. Minor averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in his final two college seasons and he’s an excellent pass blocker. I don’t think NFL teams will spend a draft pick on a guy who spent so much time on the sideline, but if he somehow stays healthy, Minor is the type of guy who I could see having a 10-year NFL career. He reminds me of former Tennessee Volunteer and Detroit Lion Shawn Bryson, although Bryson had better speed.
Stevie Brown – SS
Brown came to Michigan as a cornerback/free safety tweener. By his senior year in 2009, he was an undersized strongside linebacker because he couldn’t cover in open space. He’s too indecisive to play free safety in the NFL and too small to play linebacker, but he could be a special teams contributor and backup strong safety on an NFL roster. His ball skills are somewhat lacking, but he ran a 4.55 at Michigan’s pro day and he brings some kick coverage skills to the table. He is a solid tackler in limited space and he can be an effective blitzer, so I see him as an in-the-box safety type.
Projection and potential destinations: Undrafted (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Arizona, New York Jets, Baltimore)
Mark Ortmann – OT
Ortmann has excellent size at 6’6″ and 295 lbs. He was a solid but unspectacular starter at left guard and left tackle in his final two years. He has long arms and decent mobility, and I always thought Ortmann would turn out to be an above average player. However, he’s not the mauler that NFL general managers might be looking for. Even mediocre Michigan linemen have always been given a shot at the next level, so I expect Ortmann to get some looks. But ultimately he lacks the mobility and athleticism to play left tackle, and he lacks the strength and size to play right tackle. I could see him hanging around for a few years on practice squads or as a backup, but I don’t see him being an NFL starter at any point.
Carlos Brown – RB
Brown was one of the most hyped members of Michigan’s 2006 class due to his speed, but the production on the field never really matched the hype. While he has the speed to outrun even NFL players, Brown rarely makes it past the second level of defenders. In 20+ years of watching Michigan football, I can’t remember a running back that seemingly went down with as little contact. Brown stops his feet on contact and almost never gains yardage on second effort. He does have good hands and could be a third down back, but to me, he’s not a first- or second-string back. His ceiling seems to be as an end-of-the-bench, situational back who might be able to return an occasional kickoff.
David Moosman – OG
At 6’5″ and 292 lbs., Moosman is a little small to be an offensive guard in the NFL. He needs to pack on some weight to have a chance. Moosman started 23 of his last 24 games at Michigan and split time between guard and center. Unfortunately, the team’s struggles with him at center hint that a future snapping the ball might be out of the question. I think he’s strictly a guard prospect. Moosman is decently athletic and was rarely beaten at the guard position. He’s not someone who will wow you with his strength, but he has solid technique and he battles. To have a chance at sticking in the NFL, he needs to play for a zone running team like Indianapolis, Atlanta, or Washington.
Players are listed in order of their likelihood to be drafted, as determined by yours truly.
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