2020 Season Countdown: #19 Zach Charbonnet

2020 Season Countdown: #19 Zach Charbonnet


September 17, 2020
Zach Charbonnet (image via Detroit News)

Name: Zach Charbonnet
Height: 
6’1″
Weight: 
220 lbs.
High school: 
Sherman Oaks (CA) Oaks Christian
Position: 
Running back
Class: 
Freshman
Jersey number: 
#24
Last year: 
I ranked Charbonnet #19 and said he would be the starting running back with 120 carries for 600 yards and 8 touchdowns (LINK). He ran 149 times for 726 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with making 8 catches for 30 yards.
TTB Rating:
 90

Charbonnet came in at #19 last year. Normally a starting running back would probably rank higher, but he was a freshman coming off knee surgery. He ended up having one of the best freshman seasons for any Michigan back in history. Charbonnet was mostly very efficient and steady, but he didn’t show the explosiveness that some – including me – expected coming out of high school.

After starting off with a bang (8 carries for 90 yards) against Middle Tennessee, he averaged 3.0 to 3.2 yards per carry in three out of his next four games. He hit 100 yards for the first time against Army in week two, plus 3 touchdowns, but that was on just 3.03 yards a pop. He saved his worst for the Ohio State game, when he averaged just 1.75 yards per carry on 4 attempts.

Word out of camp this fall is that Charbonnet is a different guy. Players are saying he’s more explosive and working extremely hard. How much of that is camp hype, and how much of it is the natural maturation from freshman to sophomore year? We’ll see.

At the very least, we should expect some continued Steady Eddie performances, hopefully with a few more big runs. Charbonnet should be at or near the top of the depth chart, along with Chris Evans, who sat out 2019 due to a suspension. Evans has a little more big play ability, so they would be a nice 1-2 punch.

Prediction: Part-time starting running back

Hit the jump for some of his 2019 highlights.

85 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 17, 2020 at 8:54 PM

    I really like Charbonnet and think he was held back somewhat by injury. Not surprising he would be ‘more explosive’ after the extended offseason. He might be the best back Michigan has seen in 20 years.

    Unfortunately for Charbonnet, he plays the easiest-to-replace if not least impactful position on offense. Don’t take my word for it – check what NFL GMs think.
    https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/positional/

    Particularly for this Michigan roster, which is especially deep at the position. Proven options like Evans and Haskins, late-season sensation Giles Jackson, and Black Corum – a freshman drawing a great deal of hype. Oh and a short-yardage specialist with 8 career TDs on top of all that. Even Christian Turner has flashed some talent, and might be a solid player if he’s found a cure for fumblitis.

    There are a bunch of good to very good options here – as such, none belong in the top 30.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 17, 2020 at 8:55 PM

    I really like Charbonnet and think he was held back somewhat by injury. Not surprising he would be ‘more explosive’ after the extended offseason. He might be the best back Michigan has seen in 20 years.

    Unfortunately for Charbonnet, he plays the easiest-to-replace if not least impactful position on offense. Don’t take my word for it – check what NFL GMs think.

    Particularly for this Michigan roster, which is especially deep at the position. Proven options like Evans and Haskins, late-season sensation Giles Jackson, and Black Corum – a freshman drawing a great deal of hype. Oh and a short-yardage specialist with 8 career TDs on top of all that. Even Christian Turner has flashed some talent, and might be a solid player if he’s found a cure for fumblitis.

    There are a bunch of good to very good options here – as such, none belong in the top 30.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 14
    Joined: 4/11/2017
    Shiban
    Sep 18, 2020 at 10:00 AM

    I think it should be mentioned that the glowing fall reports are post-surgery. He was clearly not playing near 100% last year.

  4. JC
    Comments: 312
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Sep 18, 2020 at 11:19 AM

    Only thing I might disagree with is Chris Evan’s big play abilities. When he put on a few pounds after freshman year, I don’t remember him having a lot of explosion after that.

    I say might because I haven’t seen him play in a few years and really don’t remember. I’m hoping Chris Evans comes back and has an amazing year.

    Tangent: I like Chris Evans. I did not hear about him complaining even a little about the trouble he got himself into. He kept his head down, volunteered, worked multiple jobs, and fought his way back into good academic and football standings. He could’ve transferred. He could’ve posted social media rants and cryptic instagram posts. He could’ve done a lot of things to say “woe is me, this is bee ess” but I haven’t seen it if he did. That’s commendable.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3839
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 18, 2020 at 1:28 PM

      Evans isn’t a game-breaker, but he gives more big plays than most. He has 5 career runs longer than Charbonnet’s long from 2019 (41 yards).

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6278
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 18, 2020 at 1:59 PM

        Isn’t more big plays than most the definition of a gamebreaker?

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3839
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Sep 18, 2020 at 2:11 PM

          He’s more of a gamebreaker than, say, De’Veon Smith, yes.

  5. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 18, 2020 at 11:57 AM

    I really like Charbonnet and think he was held back somewhat by injury. Not surprising he would be ‘more explosive’ after the extended offseason. He might be the best back Michigan has seen in 20 years.

    Unfortunately for Charbonnet, he plays the easiest-to-replace if not least impactful position on offense.

    And at Michigan specifically – there are a bunch of good to very good options at this one position – as such, none belong in the top 30.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6278
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 18, 2020 at 11:58 AM

      In regard to the importance of the position.

      Don’t take my word for it – check what NFL GMs think.
      https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/positional/

      Only FBs are paid less on average than RBs.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3839
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Sep 18, 2020 at 2:05 PM

        I won’t take your word for it, because your logic doesn’t make sense. Most teams keep 3-4 running backs on the roster because they use all of them, and it’s also a position that takes a beating, so there are a bunch of backups getting picked up off the street. Teams don’t go three-deep at center or guard or tackle. Heck, sometimes they only have 2 quarterbacks active on a Sunday.

        But still…

        The #32 running back gets paid $2.3 million.
        The #64 offensive guard gets paid $1.2 million.
        The #32 center gets paid $1.4 million.
        The #32 free safety gets paid $1.4 million.
        The #64 cornerback gets paid $2.3 million.
        The #64 wide receiver gets paid $2.3 million, and you know a lot of teams devote more than 2 starting spots to receivers. (If all teams started 3 wide receivers – which I know is a stretch, but it’s still some perspective – the #96 wide receiver gets paid $1 million. If we split the difference, the #80 wide receiver gets paid $1.4 million.)

        I didn’t go through all the positions, but the lowest paid “starting” RB (just going by the top 32) is getting paid significantly more than the lowest paid starters at various other positions.

        Is it a surprise that the position with the shortest career (2.57 years, according to one study) due to injuries has a bunch of replacement players entering the league at low-level contracts to replace them, dragging the average down?

        Maybe you should have looked at the average salary for starters, not just the overall average. Then you would find out where the real money is being focused, not just a steady string of $500,000 contracts just to get a warm body on the bench.

        Don’t take my word for it. Check what NFL GMs think.

        P.S. No, I’m not suggesting that running backs are/should be the most valued positions, like QB, DE, etc. But your continued, twisted insistence that running backs don’t matter is tiresome, flat-out incorrect, and refuted by paychecks.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 3:12 PM

          If you want to argue that the 3rd string RB is more important than the 9th WR or 15th OL, then I will agree with you.

          I picked out the average salary because it covers everyone. You are cherry-picking one data point – the lowest starter salary.

          An average doesn’t tell the whole story for sure (see my critiques of YPC) and we can get into a more detailed discussion about the distribution of dollars if you want to, but my take on relative lack of importance of RB is backed up by facts.

          In addition to average by player here is the allocation by position group.

          https://overthecap.com/positional-spending/

          You can also read this article which is a few years old because this trend has been going on for 20 years.

          https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/running-backs-are-finally-getting-paid-what-theyre-worth/

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3839
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Sep 18, 2020 at 8:09 PM

            It’s not really cherry-picking. It’s literally “what NFL GMs think.”

            If you’re the worst starting RB in the league, you’re getting paid more than several other positions’ worst starters. This is not irrelevant. (Almost) every team is paying somebody very well to be its bell cow, or at least its lead guy. Follow the money. Not every team is paying a boatload for its starting offensive guard.

            If you incorporate oodles of backups, you’re getting into the weeds. Backups are paid for a variety of reasons, sometimes literally just to be a warm body. Nobody believes the Washington Football Team’s #4 running back (whoever that is) is going to be a difference-maker, and he’s not paid to be one. He’s paid because, at some point, the starter or backup is going to roll an ankle, and the QB needs SOMEONE to hand the ball to on occasion.

            THOSE guys are the middle relievers and shot-blocking centers you’re talking about.

            We, or at least I, am not talking about the #4 or #5 running back being supremely important. The main guy – or sometimes two (say, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara) – is important. He’s paid to carry a heavy load and be a difference-maker.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6278
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 20, 2020 at 12:57 PM

            Here are the top 5 RB salaries and top 5 OG salaries per Sportrac:

            David Johnson HOU, RB$10,200,000
            Le’Veon Bell NYJ, RB$8,500,000
            Kenyan Drake ARI, RB$8,483,000
            Ezekiel Elliott DAL, RB$6,800,000
            Tevin Coleman SF, RB$4,550,000

            Brandon Scherff WAS, G$15,030,000
            Joe Thuney NE, G$14,781,000
            Ali Marpet TB, G$10,625,000
            Kevin Zeitler NYG, G$10,000,000
            Rodger Saffold TEN, G$9,500,000

            The top OG makes 50% more than the top earing RB and the 5th OG is making almost double what the 5th RB is.

            I’m sure you’ll quibble with that like you quibble with the overall average so here is the top contract amounts NFL GMs are dolling out.

            CONTRACT VALUE
            Zack Martin DAL, G$84,000,000
            Andrew Norwell JAC, G$66,500,000
            Andrus Peat NO, G$57,500,000
            Brandon Brooks PHI, G$56,350,000
            Gabe Jackson LVR, G$55,000,000

            CONTRACT VALUE
            Ezekiel Elliott DAL, RB$90,000,000
            Alvin Kamara NO, RB$75,000,000
            Christian McCaffrey CAR, RB$64,063,500
            Dalvin Cook MIN, RB$63,000,000
            Le’Veon Bell NYJ, RB$52,500,000

            Not much difference if we’re being honest, but the 5th OG tops the 5th RB.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3839
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Sep 20, 2020 at 1:48 PM

              Speaking of cherry-picking data, looking at the top 5 is…something.

              That being said, I would be a terrible GM because I don’t find many things more boring than looking at a bunch of contract numbers.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6278
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 20, 2020 at 2:36 PM

              Exactly! Cherry pick one spot, 5 or 30, and it’s not convincing. But when you have an average and you have a position group and you cap nerds who watch this stuff closely and say these things and all the arrows point in the same direction…

              We also agree on your potential as a GM. Coaching is a different skillset!

              • Thunder
                Comments: 3839
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Sep 20, 2020 at 3:08 PM

                But why are we worried about the #129 player at a single position in the league? IIRC, Damien Williams was on that salary list making $50,000 this year after opting out. Other random guys were on there for like $400,000. These are guys signed off practice squads just to fill a roster spot. It’s like saying actors aren’t highly valued in our society because the guy at the newsstand in an episode of “Law and Order” got paid $10 to hand Lenny Briscoe a newspaper for two takes. And hey, some extras do it for free!

                STARTERS are valued. That’s necessary. That’s not an arbitrary cutoff. Top 5 is arbitrary.

                I heard a “fact” once, and I’m not sure if it’s true. But soldiers were called “G.I.s” because, like the clothes that were issued to them, they were “General Issue.” At some point when you go through a few hundred thousand casualties, you’re no longer throwing the best of the best out on the battlefield. Teams are going to have 3-4 running backs on the roster, regardless. If you get into Week 17 and 50% of the guys who began the season on a roster are now on Injured Reserve, yeah, you’re not paying for excellence at that point. They’re General Issue. It’s not “Can you hit a bullseye from 1,000 yards away?” It’s “Can you hold a rifle and shoot in the general direction of that farmhouse over there?”

                So do we judge the effectiveness of the military based on its top performers (SEALs, Rangers, etc.), or do we judge the military based on the G.I.s? You’re saying Zeke Elliott, Saquon Barkley, etc. aren’t valuable because De’Veon Smith is a UDFA/practice squad guy who touched the ball 3 times.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6278
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 20, 2020 at 3:41 PM

                We judge them on the collective outcome of the whole.

                If we’re making military analogies, RBs are the grunts on the frontline.
                The replaceable cogs that do important work as group but you don’t need to invest a lot into them, just find enough of them and throw them out there.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6278
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 20, 2020 at 1:14 PM

            And while we’re talking about Bell. LOLOL what an overtly stupid contract from the day it was signed.

            It’s exactly the kind of thinking that some GMs and fans make when overvaluing RBs. Bell was credited with a lot of the Steelers success but it’s clear it’s not about him.

            Last year with him 3.8 YPC
            Next year without him 4.2 YPC

            Bell’s YPC with Steelers 4.3
            Bell’s YPC without Steelers 3.2

            A classic example of erroneously thinking a RB matters.

            When you have all pros on OL and at QB, the RB is going to look pretty good. You can ship out one guy and plug in another and it will still be true.

            This isn’t even an indictment of Bell – who I think is a pretty damn good RB. The situation just exemplifies how easy most RBs are to replace – even ones that produce at an elite level.

            Now we see the Cowboys throwing a massive contract at Elliot, another RB who I think is really good, better than Bell. But if he goes down are the Cowboys going to fall. No. If they fail to keep their OL at an elite level it will.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 3:57 PM

          My response is hung up in moderation because it includes a couple links.

          The fact that there are a bunch of replacement players coming into the league at one position and not others should tell you something.

          The evidence is there. In aggregate with large sample size. You want to dig, twist, and make excuses to see otherwise, you can.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3839
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Sep 18, 2020 at 7:54 PM

            Yes, it does tell me something: it says they get injured a lot.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6278
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 20, 2020 at 1:29 PM

              Hard to make an impact if you are hurt all the time.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1354
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Sep 18, 2020 at 2:20 PM

        It isn’t about importance, it’s about the fact that they break.

        Because they break it’s difficult to sink money into an Rb thinking that he will be “the guy” because in a salary capped league, when he goes down … as opposed to if, you have a big chunk of change sitting on injured reserve. While, this is true at every position, RBs break at a higher rated than do other positions. And, as a result, are available for fewer games in a season than any other position group.

        http://www.profootballlogic.com/articles/nfl-injury-rate-analysis/

        This is likely the result of Rbs taking harder hits than any other position.

        https://www.livescience.com/54972-which-football-positions-take-hardest-hits.html

        So, by virtue of the economics of the NFL salary cap, RB is addressed as a rotation. The bell cow is gone forever, a victim of way improved equipment and S&A coaching.

        So, good money management practices dictate that you put your dough into offensive linemen because they are more likely to last, and of course Qbs because they are protected and was a result are even more likely to last. Not to mention the fact that the game is now about the forward pass.

        You more consistently platoon Rb’s, D linemen, Dbs, Linebackers, and receivers both tight and otherwise.

        In general you pay, unless you don’t have to because of a rookie contract, Qbs, pass rushers and OTs. Then you pay the guys who are able to star in your scheme, then everybody else, then Rbs.

        It would be interesting to see salary information on a per snap basis. I suspect that Rb’s as a group are getting paid more per snap than people think. But I dunno.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3839
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Sep 18, 2020 at 2:42 PM

          You’re right about that salary-per-snap thing. I listen to a fantasy football podcast, and they get excited about running backs who play 60% of the snaps. That indicates that somebody has a good chance at a standout performance.

          So if a starting running back gets paid $2.3 million to play 60% of the snaps, that would be about $4 million adjusted for 100% of the snaps.

          Meanwhile, starting offensive linemen already play close to 100% of the snaps, so $1.3 million adjusted is…still roughly $1.3 million.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 3:29 PM

          This all seems true to me at face. But why are we twisting things to try to get to a point where the RB has higher value?

          RB rotates more than other positions. This isn’t in dispute.
          But what is the takeaway. To most it would mean that one guy at that position is less valuable than one guy at a position that rotates less (like say QB, OT, or OC). It means starters at RB are comparatively less important than starters at other positions.

          What about backups. OK now we can start making a case for a RB2 as opposed to CB3 or WR4 or QB2. But if you want to do a dollars per snap thing you lose, because backup QBs and LBs and OTs who don’t play many snaps will end up above backups at RB who do.

          I’m sure we can bend the numbers to make some narrative – let’s make it dollars per carry and RB is the most important position by far – but again why?

          In modern football the game is defined by throwing the ball. QBs, WRs, and OL matter more than RBs. In multiple ways that’s reflected in salaries, playing time, draft position, etc.

          I understand arguing with my hyperbolic statement “RBs don’t matter” but it’s indisputable that RBs are not as important as they used to be and that NFL teams continue to deemphasize the position and especially any individuals who fill it.

          I stopped playing fantasy football about a decade ago so I can tell you for certain that it has very little relationship to real life. OL exist. You don’t have 5 “players” at RB and 1 at DEF/ST. Yards thrown aren’t discounted against yards rushed. etc.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1354
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Sep 18, 2020 at 5:21 PM

            Not twisting things at all, You brought up the criteria of salary as a, or the, determinant for the value of a running back. The idea being that they aren’t worth as much as other positions as evidenced by the fact that on average they receive the second lowest salary of any position group.

            So I wonder if that is skewed by the fact that Rbs rotate more than some other positions and consider the aggregate cost of your running back room which will typically have 3 maybe four guys playing the Rb position as opposed to one maybe two dedicated Left Tackles with one being the starter and the other sitting unless the starter goes down.

            If you are spreading 40 offensive snaps amongst three RBs while giving your starting LT every one of those forty snaps, you’re comparison doesn’t work if you are only considering the salary of one Rb and one LT.

            So the better approach would be to figure the cumulative salary at every position group if you want a fair comparison.

            I would think that a comparison on a per snap basis would also provide some real good insight in managing a salary cap.

            So, I’m paying my Qb 24 mill for 16 games times 40 snaps or $37,500 per snap. That’s probably an ok deal that gets better if the guy gets you into the playoffs and in so doing reduces his cost per snap. Or not depending on bonuses.

            But if the guy on average only goes 12 games for 160 fewer snaps, that might not be the guy.

            I’m reasonably sure that this is one way good GMs think. Pretty sure nobody at the Lions has ever had this thought.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6278
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 20, 2020 at 1:33 PM

              Ha to the Lions.

              I get what you are saying and posted that position group data where RBs show as the lowest paying group. But it has to be acknowledged that its apples and oranges because we know the OL position group is 5 positions rather than 1 can pool resources across backups.

              • Avatar
                Comments: 1354
                Joined: 8/13/2015
                Roanman
                Sep 21, 2020 at 7:21 AM

                Not apples and oranges.

                Add up the guys in your OL room. There will be 9 or 10 guys on the payroll with whatever … 200 snaps … per game from Tackle to Tackle.

                Count your running backs. there will be 3 or 4. Add up the snaps.

                Divide both groups total salaries by total snaps and you will know exactly how those positions are valued on a given team, by your own metric.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6278
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 21, 2020 at 3:33 PM

                Disagree. This approach is obviously flawed as punters and kickers will rate highest.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1354
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Sep 18, 2020 at 5:28 PM

            so to continue, it seems to me that you take the cost of every room in the building. DBs, Qb, Ol, Dl Linebackers, all of them.

            Add up the salaries, divide by the total snaps that group receives and you have your answer. The total snaps will be different from scheme to scheme. Seattle for example will likely have fewer total Wr snaps as they run a few more two back sets.

            If you’re trying to figure out the relative value of a position group, I think it’s the approach to follow.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6278
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 20, 2020 at 1:37 PM

              Any position group that is one position will show better by this metric than a pooled group where backups can be shared.

              Another way to think of it a RB group in 2020 will show more value in this metric than a RB/FB group in 1990 even the RBs have clearly been deemphasized.

              More relevant might be comps to positions that can’t share backups.

              I would say RB would fall below QB, Punter and Kicker on dollars per snap basis.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 3:45 PM

          Something to consider. The rotation at the RB position isn’t just about health.

          If you look at the super bowl – a game with everything on the line and all off-season to recuperate – the RB position still rotates less than most other positions.

          The Chiefs back was 10th out of 11th in snaps played by starters. The 3rd WR was lower than him only because formations vary like short yardage. The 49ers rotated heavily between Coleman and Mostert. They weren’t saving these guys, they just view them as more easy to substitute out than other positions.

          In baseball you pinch hit for your shortstop, not your slugging 1B or OF.

          In basketball you play Lebron James more than his normal 38 minutes a game. In the playoffs, he might play 44 or more.

          In football, you rotate your RBs whether you are talking preseason or the super bowl.

          The logical conclusion to reach, if these guys are being substituted out by choice with the season on the line, is that the guys are not so important, relatively speaking. They don’t make as much of a difference when they are in the game or not as the guys at other positions. In other words, their relative importance is smaller — which is the whole point of the countdown.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1354
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Sep 18, 2020 at 5:35 PM

            You say, “the RB position still rotates less than most other positions.”

            This is false.

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1354
              Joined: 8/13/2015
              Roanman
              Sep 18, 2020 at 5:36 PM

              On offense,

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1354
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Sep 18, 2020 at 5:39 PM

            Ok, so I read this again, do they get rotated out more, or less?

            RB rotation is also about play calling, some run inside, some catch the football, some block, Guys come and go in as the situation requires.

            You know this.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6278
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 20, 2020 at 1:44 PM

            Right – RB rotates more. I miswrote that sentence, but the rest is to the point which I think is obvious to us all and not in dispute.

            I agree that RBs are increasingly situational players with situational skills. All the more reason why it’s very very rare to see an every down back make a big difference like Saquan Barkley did.

            When you see the combination of increasing specialization and increasing rotation the individuals involved are less important.

            An MLB starter now is not expected to go 8 o 9 innings and that makes starters less valuable than they were in the 1950s. Though unlike RBs they are still the most important player on the field when they are on it.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6278
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 18, 2020 at 12:03 PM

      Regarding depth -Michigan is loaded with proven options (unlike last year where everything was unclear and a walk-on was prominently involved.)

      Charbonnet
      Evans
      Haskins
      late-season sensation Giles Jackson
      Corum – a freshman drawing a great deal of hype.
      A short-yardage specialist with 8 career TDs on top of all that.

      Even Turner has flashed some talent, and might be a solid player if he’s found fumblitis vaccine. He could be a guy who can impress Thunder with a big run late against Rutgers or lowly MSU.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6278
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 18, 2020 at 12:12 PM

      Just my opinion

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3839
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 18, 2020 at 1:35 PM

      So the starting running back doesn’t deserve to be in the top 30? That’s an interesting angle.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6278
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 18, 2020 at 1:43 PM

        If you have a primary back who is a standout then yeah. But not when there is so much depth.

        Charbonnet
        Evans
        Haskins
        Jackson the late season sensation
        Corum the freshman drawing hype
        Mason the short yardage specialist with 9 TDs already

        Even Turner has some potential if he figured out how to stop fumbling.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6278
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 18, 2020 at 1:46 PM

        If you have a proven standout who is a primary back I could see it. If you have 6 or 7 guys with 3 of them already proven to be good players, no way.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:46 PM

          Evans Charbonnet and Haskins are all good RBs.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:47 PM

          Jackson was a late season sensation.

          Corum is a freshman drawing heaps of hype.

          Mason has 9 TDs as a short yardage specialist.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3839
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Sep 18, 2020 at 8:52 PM

            Any sensible thing you say is immediately canceled out by the fact that you use Giles Jackson – who gets handed end arounds and jet sweeps – as an example of an effective running back.

            Dax Hill caught a pass last year, so it’s no big deal that we might lose Nico Collins to the NFL as long as we have Dax Hill.

            Michael Barrett had 1 carry for 14 yards on a fake punt, so he might as well be counted with the running backs, too.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6278
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 20, 2020 at 1:58 PM

            Jackson lined up at RB, got the ball, and produced. Other times he got it from WR. Welcome to modern football. If you want to sit here and act like yards don’t count unless they are coming on I-form power that’s on you.

            Jackson and Mason both might not be every down backs but he can handle some of the position duties. Tru Wilson and Hassan Haskins can handle 2nd and 5.

            Let’s put it this way. In 1990 the RB pie weighed 5 pounds and one guy was eating most of it. In 2020 the RB weighs 3.5 pounds and it’s a shared meal.

            That big-pie eater in 1990 belonged in the top 10 of this countdown, maybe, depending on how much credit you want to give to the OL. The multiple pie-eaters in 2020 don’t.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3839
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Sep 20, 2020 at 2:32 PM

              Please show me a play where Jackson lined up in the backfield and was handed the ball. I honestly don’t remember a single one.

              Until then, he’s not a RB. He’s not listed as a RB. He doesn’t get handed inside zone/pin-and-pull/power runs. He’s handed jet sweeps and end arounds. Jehu Chesson, Eddie McDoom, and Steve Breaston were also not running backs, even though they got handoffs once in a while. I think Devin Funchess was handed an end around once, too (UPDATE: Funchess registered 2 carries for -11 yards in 2014). Is he a running back?

              I did the research for you on Jackson, and it’s not looking good for your argument. In this 5-minute highlight reel, he lines up in the backfield 4 times: https://twitter.com/umichfootball/status/1250107551049560073

              1. He catches a wheel route
              2. He catches a wheel route
              3. He takes a direct snap against OSU and runs a sweep
              4. He catches an angle route

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6278
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 20, 2020 at 3:19 PM

                Jackson was recruited as a WR/RB. Per Touch the Banner, he had 221 carries his junior year of high school. Did Funchess do that?

                Jackson played RB in multiple games to close the year at Michigan, per real life as catalogued by Mgoblog “Not UFR”.

                Jackson even got a goaline carry in the 2Q against OSU. Ironically given my comment above, 2nd down from the 5. Per Mgoblog the playcall was Down G.

                And here he is catching a pass from RB spot against Alabama.

                https://gfycat.com/animatedblandcobra-football

                Those aren’t the only examples. Jackson is a weapon from WR, RB, or Wildcat QB.

                I understand you might think these are gimmicks but you see them every saturday across the country.

                A Michigan fan can be forgiven for wanting to forget the OSU and Alabama games, but Jackson’s emergence seemed to be a silver lining for anyone looking for such things.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3839
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Sep 20, 2020 at 4:13 PM

                  Zach Gentry was a QB in high school. Was he a quarterback at any point when he saw the field at Michigan?

                  I didn’t forget the OSU and Alabama games. I literally described 4 plays where he was in the backfield, 3 of which were from those games.

                  Shea Patterson also got goal line carries. He was definitively not a running back. If you never take a handoff out of the backfield, are you a running back? Even Justice Hayes, Vincent Smith, and other “third down” type backs got handoffs once in a while, whether it was on draws or more traditional running plays.

                  A WR throwing a double pass does not make him a QB. John Navarre caught the “Transcontinental” but was not a WR.

                  You are arguing just to argue. It’s a waste of our time.

                  Bottom line: Giles Jackson is a wide receiver. That’s his designation on the roster.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 6278
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 20, 2020 at 4:24 PM

                  T
                  He’s not a RB until you show proof he ran the ball!

                  L
                  Here’s proof.

                  T
                  He’s not a RB until he’s listed as such on the official Michigan roster!

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3839
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Sep 20, 2020 at 6:59 PM

                  I said this above:

                  “Please show me a play where Jackson lined up in the backfield and was handed the ball. I honestly don’t remember a single one.”

                  I am waiting for evidence.

                  UPDATE: I found it for you. His 1 handoff from the backfield last year came on a Power Read-type play (Down G Read, in MGoBlog terms), which many teams run by putting a slot guy in motion but instead they put him next to the QB. It went for about -1 yard. So this changes everything. He’s a running back! Just like Refrigerator Perry. And J.J. Watt is a tight end and Jay Cutler is a wide receiver! https://youtu.be/jG1NOx_Z6R4?t=800

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 6278
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 21, 2020 at 3:34 PM

                  Already noted in the post you are responding to.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 6278
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 21, 2020 at 3:37 PM

                  You made up a criteria – I told you were it happened. You still don’t like it. Oh well.

                  Jackson played RB in high school and he played RB last year at Michigan (WR and Returner too!). RBs dont get handed the ball on most plays. These are just facts.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3839
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Sep 23, 2020 at 3:46 PM

                  I don’t like it, because it’s disingenuous. Yes, he lined up in the backfield a handful of times last year, and he was handed the ball once. That doesn’t make him a running back. I saw the Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett lined up at running back the other night, and yet, I haven’t seen anyone insisting he can handle a chunk of the Seahawks running back workload.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6278
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 20, 2020 at 3:25 PM

                See this is what I mean. “It’s not looking good for me?” Why? Because he’s catching passes instead of running it up the gut? Is that was a real RB has to do?

                Do I think Jackson is ever going to carry the ball 20 times in one game? No. I think you need some RBs who can do that. But you also need RBs who set off the safeties “watch the wheel route” alarm bells and can run a jet sweep or motion to WR without being ignored. This is modern football.

                If you think speed kills – there’s a lot more of it in 190 pound packages than 230 pound packages. And it kills you on the edges a lot more than it kills you between the hashes. It kills you on the pass way more than it kills you on the ground.

                Michigan could win some ball games with guys like Jackson and Mason handling the majority of the snaps. A ‘real’ RB that weights 220-230 pounds might just be the sideshow.

                Maybe those run plays that you see as essential will be what the next generation of football fans see as the gimmick. Maybe they rewatch these games in 20 years, the same way that you and I look at the old school option running teams as gimmicky. This is just the same “keep the defense honest” gimmick that you see time and time again from these old school coaches who loved to keep things in the middle of the field.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6278
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 20, 2020 at 2:02 PM

            I think these kinds of statements just indicate the depth of the 80s bias where a real QB sits in the pocket and is evaluated by his completion percentage on intermediate timing routes and running it or throwing screen passes just doesn’t count. A real RB can only be evaluated by how often he breaks a 50 yard run between the tackles – nothing else matters, pass protection is for OL and catching is for WR.

            This is a huge exaggeration but it’s a mentality that comes out a lot. Denard ‘inflated’ his completion percentage by making easy throws — OF COURSE HE DID — but those yards are there because of the ability to run and they count just as much on the scoreboard.

            There is no discount that should be applied for playing modern football — it’s an advantage not something to view as a negative. Grading on curve to favor throwback players like Jake Rudock and Ty Isaac who look like they could capably rock neck rolls while bumping their heads to EPMD and Whitesnake doesn’t make sense.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
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          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:47 PM

          Jackson late season sensation.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
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          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:48 PM

          Corum freshman drawing heaps of hype.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:48 PM

          Mason proven short yardage specialist. 9 TDs

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:49 PM

          Even Turner showed promise. If he found a vaccine for fumbling he might be a guy you can at least give the ball to against Rutgers and lowly MSU.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3839
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Sep 18, 2020 at 2:11 PM

            Turner managed to run for -10 yards on 4 total carries against two of the worst teams on the schedule, Maryland and Illinois. We’ll always have that one play against Florida where he stepped out of bounds, though.

            No thanks.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6278
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 18, 2020 at 3:30 PM

              You could be right on this one.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:49 PM

          BM is a short yardage specialist with 9 TDs

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2020 at 1:58 PM

          And a guy with 9 TDs who can power it in from short.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
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    Lanknows
    Sep 18, 2020 at 12:04 PM

    Regarding depth, Michigan is loaded with proven options. Unlike last year where everything was unclear and a walk-on was prominently involved.

    Charbonnet
    Evans
    Haskins
    late-season sensation Giles Jackson
    Corum a freshman drawing a great deal of hype
    A short yardage specialist with 8 career TDs on top of all that.

    Even Turner has flashed some talent, and might be a solid player if he’s found fumblitis vaccine. He could be a guy who can impress Thunder with a big run late against Rutgers or lowly MSU.

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 18, 2020 at 12:13 PM

    Michigan is loaded with proven options. Unlike last year where everything was unclear and a walkon was prominently involved.

    Charbonnet
    Evans
    Haskins
    late season sensation Giles Jackson
    Corum a freshman drawing a great deal of hype
    A short yardage specialist with 8 career TDs on top of all that.

    Even Turner has flashed some talent and might be a solid player if he found the fumblitis vaccine. He could be a guy who can impress Thunder with a big run late against Rutgers or lowly MSU.

  8. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 18, 2020 at 1:53 PM

    Big Ben M has 9 TDs as a short yardage specialist.

  9. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 18, 2020 at 4:05 PM

    A RB in 2020 is like a FB in 1990.

    The game has been evolving to deemphasize you for a long time, but you still have your old heads who can’t let go of 30 years ago. Some people will say anyone can do your job – including rookies or walk-ons. Others will argue about outliers like Daryl Johnston or Lorenzo Neal are really very very important if you just look at things a certain way.

    Some will say its more and more about the pass. Others will argue you still really need to be able to run the ball when it comes down to it and thats where you really make a big difference.

    ————————–

    Now I don’t think RB is going to go away like FB mostly did but I think you’ll continue to see what they do with the ball in their hands as less and less relevant to their value, barring some rule changes. I think you’ll continue to see them become viewed as replaceable cogs. The middle relievers and shotblocking centers of football.

  10. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 20, 2020 at 2:25 PM

    The individuals at a position with heavy rotation are less important than the individuals at a position where they play every down. The individual is what the countdown measures.

    Roanman brings up a different point above, about relative value of the collection of individuals playing a position. That’s a different but also very interesting conversation.

    I think the NFL salary data above (especially the average) is the most meaningful for telling the story but I acknowledge the different structures of position keep it from being definitive. A straight average probably doesn’t tell the whole story because more depth is needed at singular position like QB and RB and positions that rotate heavily like DT and RB. Going by snap doesn’t either. RBs would likely finish last among single positions like QB, FB, and K/P on per snap basis.

    Nothing is definitive about which position is most valuable in a team game. But the game, NFL salary allocations, and thinking about it have all very clearly shifted and they are all pointing in the same direction for RBs.

    https://www.blitzalytics.com/post/most-valuable-positions-in-the-nfl

  11. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 20, 2020 at 4:15 PM

    Some science on the subject of positional value.

    http://www.sloansportsconference.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Eager_PFF_WAR.pdf

    Key takeaways related to RB are below

    Running backs can add some value (even with their low snap counts) due in large part to their receiving.

    That said, it’s telling that the
    sum of an average offensive line’s WAR is roughly five-times that of an average running back, and
    an average wide receiver’s is roughly three-times higher.

    Tight ends are both more valuable than
    running backs on average and more stable than any position group other than interior defensive
    linemen.

    It’s very
    hard for a tight end or a running back to add the value of a high-level wide receiver, but equally
    difficult to produce values as far beneath replacement as the worst player at the position as well.

  12. Avatar
    Comments: 79
    Joined: 10/3/2015
    UM2013
    Sep 21, 2020 at 3:52 PM

    This is a bit of an “eye test” argument, but I discount a lot of the contract-based, NFL statistics that are being referenced here, largely because I tend to think that RB talent is more impactful in college than in the NFL. This ranking makes sense to me if we assume that Charbonnet is a real difference maker – it’s a bit of a leap of faith, but I’m going to assume that he will be. If he were to go down, however (knock on wood) I agree with Lank’s logic – at that point I’m not sure there’s a huge difference between Haskins, Evans, or even some walk on that we toss out there.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1364
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Sep 21, 2020 at 8:27 PM

      It’s really not an eye test. The running game is simply much less important in the NFL than it is in college, and stats bear that out quite clearly. The posters here trying to make a case about college running backs by citing NFL contract data are simply misguided. Or dumb. Apples and oranges.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6278
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 22, 2020 at 1:08 PM

        What’s not clear is how much individuals playing the RB position are affecting outcomes as compared to other RBs.

        What’s not clear is if a given RB affects the run game more or less than another position, say, TE or OG.

        What’s not clear is if the RB is more important to the run game than the pass game give his multifacted role as receiver, play action threat, and pass blocker.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6278
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 22, 2020 at 12:14 PM

      It’s clear that rushing is more important in college than the NFL but it would be foolish to pretend there is nothing in common. Many of the same longstanding trends are there at both levels. The trend to emphasizing passing has been going on for many decades. Shifts in desired RB characteristics have been dramatic since the 70s and 80s. RBs are deployed in rotations at both levels, increasingly, for the last 20 years. The percentage of games where a single RB gets 20+ carries has plummeted.

      We see these things particularly at the elite college programs like Alabama, Clemson, OSU, and LSU which have all shifted, on varying timelines, in the last 20 years from retro run-heavy offenses to modern passing spreads.

  13. Lanknows
    Comments: 6278
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 22, 2020 at 12:16 PM

    It is clear that rushing is more important in college than the NFL but it would be foolish to pretend there is nothing in common. Many of the same longstanding trends are there at both levels. The trend to emphasizing passing has been going on for many decades. Shifts in desired RB characteristics have been dramatic since the 70s and 80s. RBs are deployed in rotations at both levels increasingly for the last 20 years. The percentage of games where a single RB gets more than 20 carries has plummeted.

    In college we see these things particularly true for elite programs like Alabama, Clemson, OSU, and LSU which have all shifted, on varying timelines, in the last 20 years from retro run heavy offenses to modern passing spreads.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6278
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 22, 2020 at 12:23 PM

      Undue credit going to RBs for OL play has been going on for many decades.

      It’s especially obvious at a place like Michigan during the Bo era that was an assembly line for excellent NFL OL while producing very few NFL RBs of note. (The one notable exception was Ron Johnson, who was before my time.)

      The genesis of my thinking on the RB position is grounded in disappointment of watching some of my favorite childhood college players go on to do nothing in the NFL

      Initially I thought it was weird, maybe a case of bad luck, but it kept happening again and again. So then I thought, maybe it wasn’t the RB that mattered after all.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 79
        Joined: 10/3/2015
        UM2013
        Sep 23, 2020 at 2:49 PM

        I agree for the most part, but a few guys are special in that they can make plays on their own (particularly in college). Hopefully we have one here.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 24, 2020 at 3:01 PM

          I agree with that. I just think they are WAY more rare than people think.

          I don’t think Michigan has had anyone like Barkley in my lifetime. No Cook. No Peterson. Not even close. They didn’t have those guys in the 80s or 90s or 00s, just like they haven’t in the last decade.

          I think Wheatley and Biakabatuka were probably the standouts that felt to me like they might have had that special impact-making level of talent. You watched them and you said WOW. It was awesome to watch them run through, past, and around people. It was impossible to not love Biakabatuka after that OSU game and Wheatley, I mean just look at the size and speed. I get it. I watched it. I felt it.

          But in hindsight… is it just a coincidence that both were here at the same time? Could be – Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas were both at the same school at the same time it happens. But let’s dig deeper.

          Is it just a coincidence that guys like Runyan, Payne, and bunch of others blocking around for them went on to get drafted and play in the NFL?

          Is it weird that the skill position guys at QB, WR had better careers at the next level?

          Maybe even when you have a RB that matters he doesn’t matter as much as you think.

          How often do we talk about Ty Wheatley to this day as compared to say Derrick Alexander who was there at the same time and went on to a better NFL career. We talk about what a freak athlete Wheatley is but maybe we should be talking about Alexander more often.

          RBs are great athletes – every one of them – even the Derrick Greens, the Mike Coxes, and the David Underwoods. That’s a given. Those are game-changing guys at the high school level but there are a lot of great athletes like this at the college level, and not so many positions for them. It’s rare to standout among them at the top tier collegiate level.

          In short – Saquan Barkley almost certainly ain’t walking through that door. Maybe Mike Hart is but maybe Mark Hart isn’t as good as you think either.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3839
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Sep 23, 2020 at 3:56 PM

        I mean, you can say that running back doesn’t matter because Michigan running backs haven’t done well in the NFL, but there are other positions for Michigan that have also seen a ton of college stars fizzle out in the NFL. For a long time, defensive line studs at Michigan did nothing in the NFL. How did Mike Hammerstein, Mark Messner, Chris Hutchinson, William Carr, Glen Steele, etc. do at the next level? Those guys were studs in college (some were 1st team All-Americans).

        Would you also be willing to make the argument that defensive linemen don’t matter?

        And keep in mind that when you talk about position groups, you’re usually talking about positions where there are multiple people on the field (LB, OL, CB, etc.). At the RB position, there’s really only 1 at a time who really gets showcased (unless you’re Alabama, which collects 5-stars).

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 24, 2020 at 2:06 PM

          Michigan RBs got a ton of accolades and attention at the college level. They were the stars, on the magazine covers and their numbers worn on jerseys in the stands. Then many of them got drafted pretty high in the NFL too.

          I don’t think the parallel is true for Michigan DL at the college level.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6278
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 24, 2020 at 2:38 PM

            I don’t consider Michigan DL to be disappointments at the next level. There weren’t all that many of them in the Bo/Mo era but Carr produced a bunch. They have generally produced at or above their draft spots in my lifetime, though of course there are exceptions (e.g., Taco).

            Brandon Graham, James Hall, Lamar Woodley, Alan Branch, have had good to excellent NFL careers. Then the more recent group who seems off to a good starts like Wino, Gary, Hurst, Henry, Wormley.

            But lets look at the 80s and 90s guys you brought up.

            Steele played in 80 games which is more than solid for 4th round pick.

            Hammerstein was probably a mild disappointment for a 3rd round pick but still played 56 games.

            Kevin Brooks was probably disappointing for a first rounder but had a pretty long career and started a bunch of games.

            Carr was a 7th round pick and Messner was a 6th round pick, so not expected to do big things at next level. Hutchinson wasn’t even drafted. This is a bit like saying Michigan QBs are disappointing – because Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner weren’t good in the NFL. (An obviously absurd statement given Brady, Grbac, Henne, Collins, etc.)

            This is nothing remotely like the track record of disappointment from Michigan RBs. I can’t think of a single one who exceeded expectations at the next level. Very few end up starting consistently. Almost none make it to a pro bowl.

            Even though it is one position, there have probably been more clear NFL disappointments at RB than at DL all totaled up.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3839
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Sep 24, 2020 at 6:58 PM

              I’m not arguing that running back has had fewer disappointments than defensive line.

              I’m saying you wouldn’t say DL doesn’t matter even though none of those guys did anything noteworthy in the NFL for a pretty long stretch.

              “Playing in games” is not what we’re talking about. Steele made 101 tackles in his NFL career after being a 1st team All-American. Carr made 0 after achieving the same feat in college.

              But since you brought it up, Hoard played in 144. Wheatley played in 124. B.J. Askew played in 83. If you’re saying Steele wasn’t disappointing because he played in 80 games, then Leroy Hoard is almost twice as un-disappointing. Or 50% as disappointing. Or something like that.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6278
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 24, 2020 at 8:32 PM

                Stack up games played side by side and you’ll get the same story.

                Hoard is the best one and played fewer games than fellow second rounder Branch.

                Wheatley played fewer games than Graham (still going) and both were first rounders.

                Steele was a 4th round pick just like Jaimie Morris and played more games than him.

                I bet we can go down the line with this with other stats too. Games played, games started, super bowls won, all pros, etc.

                Line them up and the DL wins. Michigan DL have been more successful in the NFL despite fewer of them getting drafted, lower draft position when they are, and far fewer college accolades and magazine covers.

                While it’s true that Michigan hasn’t produced a HOF-caliber DL or RB, the comparison pretty much ends there. Curtis Greer was an excellent NFL player who stood out as an elite pass rusher for years in the early 80s. Brandon Graham is having a better career than any Michigan RB has had in 40 plus years. Then and now and points in between Michigan DL have generally met or exceeded NFL expectations. This is not true at RB.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3839
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Sep 25, 2020 at 7:37 AM

                  You’re talking about things I didn’t say, though. You’re bringing up guys from the 2000s and such. I acknowledged initially that there had been successful DL at Michigan, but FOR A STRETCH in the 1980s and 1990s, they did nothing. You wouldn’t have said at the time (at least I hope not) that defensive linemen didn’t matter, and I don’t think you would argue here in 2020 “Oh, defensive linemen didn’t matter in the 1980s and 1990s but they do now.”

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 6278
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 25, 2020 at 3:13 PM

                  This is kind of like the Milton thing last year where you’re arguing against a point I never made.

                  I didn’t say QB transfers are uncommon and I didn’t say Michigan’s lack of NFL RB success proves RBs don’t matter.

                  The DL and RB situations are not the same, for the reasons I outlined above.

                  Michigan DL are more impactful than Michigan RB. That is evident at the NFL level over the last 40 years.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6278
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 24, 2020 at 8:11 PM

              Michigan RBs have been disappointing at the next level and DL haven’t. I don’t think this a controversial statement. We can debate this if you want but it seems like a sidetrack.

              I don’t think the lack of NFL production of Michigan backs proves RBs don’t matter. It’s the genesis of an idea. I’m explaining my thought process based on anecdotal examples and circumstantial evidence at Michigan.

              If it was just Michigan and there were other all-pro RBs leading teams to super bowls and getting paid more and more every year (like say QB), I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying.

              I linked to a bunch of other articles that get at the same thing, I’m just putting it through the Michigan lens.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6278
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 24, 2020 at 4:03 PM

          Over 35 years (from 1980 to 2015) Michigan had 18 backs drafted compared to 16 DL.* Limiting to the top 3 rounds, there have been 11 backs compared to 8 DL.

          Those standout DL are Clark, Martin, Branch, Graham, Woodley, Hammerstein, Brooks, and Greer. A couple of them might be minor disappointments but I don’t know that any can be called a flat out bust. Clark, Woodley, Graham, Greer have been all pros. That’s half the guys. Branch and Brooks had good careers with double digit sacks. The worst guys, Hammerstein and Martin are kind of pluggers but still had respectable careers that lasted around 50 games.

          The standout RBs are Perry, Askew, Thomas, Floyd, Biakabatuka, Wheatly, Bunch, Hoard, Perryman, Edwards, and Woolfolk. Did any of them exceed expectations? Hoard probably had the best career and was the lone all pro. Woolfolk and Wheatley had solid but unexceptional careers – which is the bar for most of the DL above. The majority did not get to 1000 yards total in their careers.

          RBs have been rated higher by the NFL over time than the DL combined across the 4 positions – as reflected in the info above (and generally matched by fan popularity). Among standouts at least (and likely the group as a whole) the RBs have been less productive and more disappointing at the NFL level.

          *This includes a couple edge players who are classified as rush LBs in the NFL but played with their hand down at DE in college (Woodley and Graham).

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