2019 Season Countdown: #10 Joshua Uche

2019 Season Countdown: #10 Joshua Uche


August 21, 2019
Josh Uche (image via MGoBlue)

Name: Joshua Uche
Height:
6’2″
Weight:
250 lbs.
High school:
Miami (FL) Columbus
Position:
Linebacker
Class:
Redshirt junior
Jersey number:
#6
Last year:
I ranked Uche #40 and said he would be a backup linebacker and special teamer (LINK). He made 15 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks.
TTB Rating:
82

I doubt anyone other than Uche’s family was as excited to see him blow up in 2018 as I was. When Uche came out of high school, I was excited about his ability to bend around the corner and rush the passer. Edge rushers are hard to come by, and someone with that natural ability should be valued. Uche was a bit player last year, but he still managed to lead the team in sacks – he made more (7.0) than 1st round pick Rashan Gary (3.5) and new Patriots standout Chase Winovich (5.0).

Perhaps best of all was the fact that he didn’t beat up on the patsies on the schedule. All 7 of his sacks came against solid teams like Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, and Northwestern. One sack against Northwestern was a huge play in a game that ended up tighter than it should have been.

It’s hard to say how much Uche will be utilized in 2019. He played less than a third of Michigan’s defensive snaps and was essentially a pass rush specialist, yet he still picked up 7 sacks in one season, which is the fifth best total in the last decade. Talk out of the spring and camp has been that Uche will be used in a variety of ways, but I don’t know that there’s too much mystery: Michigan is going to rush him off the edge as a defensive end, and they’ll blitz him from the second level. He should have a future as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL at some point, which doesn’t exactly mesh with how Michigan plays defense, but it’s nice to have at least one of those explosive edge rushers available.

Prediction: Backup SAM linebacker; 25 tackles, 6 sacks

29 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1447
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 21, 2019 at 9:19 AM

    Gotta find a way to get this playmaker on the field more – we need it!

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 265
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Aug 21, 2019 at 12:30 PM

    Ok…..I’m not a coach, don’t know anything bout x’s & o’s or Jimmy & joes.

    At this point in my life I’m more of a philosopher and am kinda interested in WHY? Humanity is so interested in Human Athletics & Athletes when in fact we are a pathetic physical creature, in general, relative to most of the rest of the mammalian species if not the entire animal kingdom…….

    BUT; how do you rank this guy #10 overall and then predict him to be a backup?
    I don’t get it………………INTJohn

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3215
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 21, 2019 at 2:08 PM

      I mean, he leads the team in sacks and he’s not a starter. So he’s very important…but he’s a backup.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 12:49 PM

    Good write-up. Uche is a very important player because it’s absolutely true that elite edge rushers are hard to find and Uche seems to be that. I certainly hope to see Uche more than 1/3 of snaps this year. He needs to become a well-rounded player for that to happen at DE/RLB. Maybe we’ll see more 3-3-5. TBD.

    I hope Paye makes a leap similar to Winovich. A backup pass rush specialist in 2016 he broke out as an everydown player in 2017. But as with the hope for Dwumfour matching Hurst’s breakout — need to see it to believe it.

    This is a bit of a nitpick but I would flip the rankings/order for Paye and Uche because Paye’s capable of playing every down. I know, he didn’t get enough sacks to get people excited — we hear this about every SDE. Then they go off to NFL success. Brown and Mattison aren’t idiots.

    The biggest argument against this high of a ranking, beyond the limited specialist role, is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche’s level but it’s a spot where young athletes (Ojabo, Barrett, Villain) can deliver without much experience and they have another option that is much beloved by PFF (Danna).

    How much of a dropoff on 3rd and 10 is it going from Dwumfour/Paye/Uche to Dwumfour/Paye/Danna or Paye/Danna/Uche to Paye/Danna/Ojabo…include Hutchinson, or Villain, whatever permutation you want to apply, Michigan has plentiful options for pass rush. It’s the everydown players who can both rush AND hold up against the run that are hard to replace.

    I very much want Uche to be a versatile player. The proverbial swiss army knife. As called out here, there is not likely to be any real mystery. For now he’s just a one-dimensional pass rusher — it really doesn’t matter if you call it SAM, Rush, Edge, DE — he’s doing one thing.

    A very valuable thing, but still. It’s like having a big fast RB — that’s nice and all but can you pass-block, hold on to the ball, pick your way through a defender that just blew up your OL assignments, etc. If not, well, returning kicks is valuable too.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 12:49 PM

    Good write-up. Uche is a very important player because it’s absolutely true that elite edge rushers are hard to find and Uche seems to be that. I certainly hope to see Uche more than 1/3 of snaps this year. He needs to become a well-rounded player for that to happen at DE/RLB. Maybe we’ll see more 3-3-5. TBD.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5151
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 21, 2019 at 12:49 PM

      I hope Paye makes a leap similar to Winovich. A backup pass rush specialist in 2016 he broke out as an everydown player in 2017. But as with the hope for Dwumfour matching Hurst’s breakout — need to see it to believe it.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5151
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 21, 2019 at 12:52 PM

      I hope Paye makes a leap similar to Winovich. A backup pass rush specialist in 2016 he broke out as an everydown player in 2017. But as with the hope for Dwumfour matching Hurst’s breakout, need to see it to believe it.

      I very much want Uche to be a versatile player. The proverbial swiss army knife. As called out here, there is not likely to be any real mystery. For now he’s just a one-dimensional pass rusher — it really doesn’t matter if you call it SAM, Rush, Edge, DE — he’s doing one thing.

      A very valuable thing, but still. It’s like having a big fast RB — that’s nice and all but can you pass-block, hold on to the ball, pick your way through a defender that just blew up your OL assignments, etc. If not, well, returning kicks is valuable too.

  5. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 12:50 PM

    I hope Paye makes a leap similar to Winovich. A backup pass rush specialist in 2016 he broke out as an everydown player in 2017. But as with the hope for Dwumfour matching Hurst’s breakout, need to see it to believe it.

    This is a bit of a nitpick but I would flip the rankings/order for Paye and Uche because Paye’s capable of playing every down. I know, he didn’t get enough sacks to get people excited. We hear this about every SDE. Then they go off to NFL success. Brown and Mattison aren’t idiots.

    The biggest argument against this high of a ranking, beyond the limited specialist role, is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche’s level but it’s a spot where young athletes (Ojabo, Barrett, Villain) can deliver without much experience and they have another option that is much beloved by PFF (Danna).

    How much of a dropoff on 3rd and 10 is it going from Dwumfour/Paye/Uche to Dwumfour/Paye/Danna or Paye/Danna/Uche to Paye/Danna/Ojabo…include Hutchinson, or Villain, whatever permutation you want to apply, Michigan has plentiful options for pass rush. It’s the everydown players who can both rush AND hold up against the run that are hard to replace.

    I very much want Uche to be a versatile player. The proverbial swiss army knife. As called out here, there is not likely to be any real mystery. For now he’s just a one-dimensional pass rusher — it really doesn’t matter if you call it SAM, Rush, Edge, DE — he’s doing one thing.

    A very valuable thing, but still. It’s like having a big fast RB — that’s nice and all but can you pass-block, hold on to the ball, pick your way through a defender that just blew up your OL assignments, etc. If not, well, returning kicks is valuable too.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 12:51 PM

    I hope Paye makes a leap similar to Winovich. A backup pass rush specialist in 2016 he broke out as an everydown player in 2017. But as with the hope for Dwumfour matching Hurst’s breakout, need to see it to believe it.

    This is a bit of a nitpick but I would flip the rankings/order for Paye and Uche because Paye’s capable of playing every down. I know, he didn’t get enough sacks to get people excited. We hear this about every SDE. Then they go off to NFL success. Brown and Mattison aren’t idiots.

    The biggest argument against this high of a ranking, beyond the limited specialist role, is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche’s level but it’s a spot where young athletes (Ojabo, Barrett, Villain) can deliver without much experience and they have another option that is much beloved by PFF (Danna).

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 12:52 PM

    I hope Paye makes a leap similar to Winovich. A backup pass rush specialist in 2016 he broke out as an everydown player in 2017. But as with the hope for Dwumfour matching Hurst’s breakout, need to see it to believe it.

    I very much want Uche to be a versatile player. The proverbial swiss army knife. As called out here, there is not likely to be any real mystery. For now he’s just a one-dimensional pass rusher. It really doesn’t matter if you call it SAM, Rush, Edge, DE. He’s doing one thing.

    A very valuable thing, but still. It’s like having a big fast RB – that’s nice and all but can you pass-block, hold on to the ball, pick your way through a defender that just blew up your OL assignments, etc. If not, well, returning kicks is valuable too.

  8. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 12:53 PM

    I hope Paye makes a leap similar to Winovich. A backup pass rush specialist in 2016 he broke out as an everydown player in 2017. But as with the hope for Dwumfour matching Hurst’s breakout, need to see it to believe it.

  9. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 1:35 PM

    I very much want Uche to be a versatile player. The proverbial swiss army knife. As called out here, there is not likely to be any real mystery. For now he’s just a one dimensional pass rusher. It really doesn’t matter if you call it SAM, Rush, Edge, DE. He is doing one thing.

    A very valuable thing, but still. It’s like having a big fast RB – that’s nice and all but can you pass-block, hold on to the ball, pick your way through a defender that just blew up your OL assignments, etc. If not, well, returning kicks is valuable too.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5151
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 21, 2019 at 1:43 PM

      This is a bit of a nitpick but I would flip the rankings order for Paye and Uche because Paye is capable of playing every down. I know, he didn’t get enough sacks to get people excited. We hear this about every SDE. Then they go off to NFL success. Brown and Mattison are not idiots.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5151
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 21, 2019 at 1:43 PM

        It is the everydown players who can both rush AND hold up against the run that are hardest to replace. The 2nd and 7 guys and 3rd and 3 guys. To me that’s Paye and it’s TBD if Uche can get there. Ideally both.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5151
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 21, 2019 at 1:44 PM

          The biggest argument against this high of a ranking, beyond the limited specialist role, is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche level but it is a spot where young athletes with talent like Ojabo, Barrett, or Villain can deliver without much experience. They also have another very experienced option that is much beloved by PFF in Danna.

          Maybe there is not so much drop off on 3rd and 10 and you are rushing just 3 or 4 guys, whatever permutation of personnel you want to pick, you can find 3 quality pass rushers.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5151
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 21, 2019 at 1:46 PM

          Beyond the limited specialist role the biggest argument against this high of a ranking is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche level but it is a spot where young athletes with talent like Ojabo Barrett or Villain can deliver without much experience. They also have another very experienced option that is much beloved by PFF in Danna.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5151
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 21, 2019 at 2:07 PM

          Beyond the limited specialist role the biggest argument against this high of a ranking is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche level but it is a spot where young athletes with talent like Ojabo Barrett or Villain can deliver without much experience. They also have another very experienced option that is much beloved by PFF in Danna.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5151
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 21, 2019 at 2:08 PM

          Beyond the limited specialist role the biggest argument against this high of a ranking is that Michigan has other edge rush options.

          None will be quite at Uche level. Still a spot where young athletes with talent like Ojabo Barrett or Villain can deliver. Experience is not required but they have that too in Danna.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3215
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 21, 2019 at 2:11 PM

          You need both abilities. I understand what you’re saying, but I see enough talent on this defensive line where the defensive ends likely won’t be too exposed for an inability to stop the run. I’m not really concerned about that.

          I am concerned about generating a pass rush. They get paid lots of money in the NFL for a reason. I know where the run-stopping can come from in this defense; I’m not sure who can generate a pass rush organically other than Uche. If you don’t have that ability, then you need to get exotic with bringing blitzes, which exposes your back end – and Michigan doesn’t have a ton of depth back there.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5151
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 21, 2019 at 2:32 PM

          Very reasonable response. This is a pretty small point to quibble about and we agree both deserve to be in the top 20 so this is just for the sake of debate. Paye vs Uche.

          I think Paye is one of the guys that is bringing the run-stopping. If he’s out you are plugging in Danna and he’s better known for his pass rush at least per PFF. Villain still weighs 120 pounds.

          Who are your goalline DEs? Paye and Hutch. If either is out your run-stopping potential drops at least as much as your pass-rushing drops with Uche IMO.

          If Uche is out Danna steps in. If Dannas pass rush does not translate to higher competition you can use young inexperienced players in this role too. Ojabo Barrett Villain.

          If you are talking 3rd and long you are rushing just 3 guys maybe 4 and Michigan has plenty of options for that situation. Less so in the anything can happen situation.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3215
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Aug 22, 2019 at 12:51 PM

            Goal line DEs are Paye and Hutchinson, no doubt. Otherwise, you have guys like Ojabo, Welschof, etc. I think someone like Hinton could play that role, too, depending on offensive personnel.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5151
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 21, 2019 at 2:32 PM

          I will also submit the hypothesis that IF Paye is used more at WDE than SDE you will see a noticeable bump up in pass rush production. There is a clear pattern of not producing pass rush stats from anchor under Brown even with elite talent. Paye’s recruiting profile is all about edge athleticism so I think it’s in there.

  10. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 1:39 PM

    This is a bit of a nitpick but I would flip the rankings order for Paye and Uche because Paye’s capable of playing every down. I know, he didn’t get enough sacks to get people excited. We hear this about every SDE. Then they go off to NFL success. Brown and Mattison aren’t idiots.

    The biggest argument against this high of a ranking, beyond the limited specialist role, is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche’s level but it’s a spot where young athletes with talent (Ojabo, Barrett, Villain) can deliver without much experience. They also have another option that is much beloved by PFF in Danna. Maybe there is not so much drop off on 3rd and 10 and you are rushing just 3 or 4 guys?

    It’s the everydown players who can both rush AND hold up against the run that are hardest to replace. The 2nd and 7 guys and 3rd and 3 guys. To me that’s Paye and it’s TBD if Uche can get there.

  11. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 1:40 PM

    This is a bit of a nitpick but I would flip the rankings order for Paye and Uche because Paye’s capable of playing every down. I know, he didn’t get enough sacks to get people excited. We hear this about every SDE. Then they go off to NFL success. Brown and Mattison aren’t idiots.

    The biggest argument against this high of a ranking, beyond the limited specialist role, is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche’s level but it’s a spot where young athletes with talent like Ojabo, Barrett, or Villain can deliver without much experience. They also have another option that is much beloved by PFF in Danna. Maybe there is not so much drop off on 3rd and 10 and you are rushing just 3 or 4 guys.

    It is the everydown players who can both rush AND hold up against the run that are hardest to replace. The 2nd and 7 guys and 3rd and 3 guys. To me that’s Paye and it’s TBD if Uche can get there.

  12. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 1:42 PM

    This is a bit of a nitpick but I would flip the rankings order for Paye and Uche because Paye is capable of playing every down. I know, he didn’t get enough sacks to get people excited. We hear this about every SDE. Then they go off to NFL success. Brown and Mattison are not idiots.

    The biggest argument against this high of a ranking, beyond the limited specialist role, is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche level but it is a spot where young athletes with talent like Ojabo, Barrett, or Villain can deliver without much experience. They also have another very experienced option that is much beloved by PFF in Danna. Maybe there is not so much drop off on 3rd and 10 and you are rushing just 3 or 4 guys, whatever permutation of personnel you want to pick, you can find 3 pass rushers.

    It is the everydown players who can both rush AND hold up against the run that are hardest to replace. The 2nd and 7 guys and 3rd and 3 guys. To me that’s Paye and it’s TBD if Uche can get there. Ideally both.

  13. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 21, 2019 at 1:45 PM

    Beyond the limited specialist role the biggest argument against this high of a ranking is that Michigan has a bunch of other edge rush options. None will be quite at Uche level but it is a spot where young athletes with talent like Ojabo Barrett or Villain can deliver without much experience. They also have another very experienced option that is much beloved by PFF in Danna.

    Maybe there is not so much drop off on 3rd and 10 and you are rushing just 3 or 4 guys. Whatever permutation of personnel you want to pick you can find 3 quality pass rushers on this roster.

  14. 17years
    Comments: 210
    Joined: 2/6/2018
    17years
    Aug 21, 2019 at 7:43 PM

    “All 7 of his sacks came against solid teams”

    Big time players come up in big time games.
    I would have had him in the top 10 too.

  15. Painter Smurf
    Comments: 260
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Painter Smurf
    Aug 21, 2019 at 11:21 PM

    Wonder if Brown regrets not playing Uche more last year. Brown mentioned in a press conference last fall that Uche was badgering him for more snaps and Brown was agreeing that he deserved them, just needed patience. He should have taken more of Furbush’s snaps IMO.

  16. Avatar
    Comments: 1
    Joined: 8/24/2019
    BlueTuesday
    Aug 24, 2019 at 6:34 AM

    This dude is a stud. He’s going to have a breakout year, and we need that. Quarterbacks running for their lives are a good thing.

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