2018 Season Countdown: #30 Bryan Mone

Tag: 2018 season countdown

29Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 17 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #30 Bryan Mone

Bryan Mone (image via Michigan Journal)

Name: Bryan Mone
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 325 lbs.
High school: Salt Lake City (UT) Highland
Position: Nose tackle
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #90
Last year: I ranked Mone #5A and said he would be the starting nose tackle with 20 tackles and 1 sack (LINK). He started six games and made 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup.
TTB Rating: 88

This sounds harsh, but based on Mone’s recruiting profile and the coaching available to him, he has been a bit of a disappointment at Michigan. He lost a season to a broken leg, but between the 2014, 2016, and 2017 seasons, he has made just 30 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 0 sacks during his Michigan career. I have long maintained that he bulked up too much, and he’s listed at 325 lbs. (last year he was 330). Mone is massive and holds up well at the point of attack, but he lost some quickness when he added weight, and now he’s strictly a space eater. He probably played his best game against Ohio State at the end of the 2017 season, so maybe that shows he’s rounding into form.

It’s hard to know what to expect in 2018. The starting nose tackle spot has been vacated by Maurice Hurst, Jr., and a bunch of insiders keep insisting that Michael Dwumfour is a reincarnation of Hurst. The word coming from those people is that Dwumfour and Auburey Solomon will be the starters, while Mone looks like a backup. Mone is a starter-quality player, somewhat like Quinton Washington several years ago, but he’s never going to be Hurst. Michigan probably has one of the top five defensive lines in the country with the talent at all four spots and then the depth on the interior. I’m not expecting a leap from Mone in his fifth year, but I think he should get some more snaps this season with Mone, Dwumfour, and Solomon making a nice trio on the interior.

Prediction: Backup nose tackle

28Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 2 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #31 Brandon Watson

Brandon Watson (#28, image via Newsday)

Name: Brandon Watson
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 200 lbs.
High school: Wilmington (DE) Eastern Christian Academy
Position: Cornerback
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #28
Last year: I ranked Watson #35 and said he would be a backup cornerback (LINK). He made 21 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 5 pass breakups.
TTB Rating: N/A

Watson had a pretty solid season in 2017 and showed what an additional year of development can do for a defensive back who’s not a top-notch athlete. Watson was a liability in 2016 and was always a step or two slow. He played a lot in the slot, and that hurt him a little bit because he couldn’t be physical with wide receivers. It’s a little tougher to be a physical cover guy in the slot, because receivers have a two-way go, and they often start off behind the line of scrimmage. Last year Watson played a little more on the outside, and I thought he did a better job of recognizing routes. Maybe he watched more film or improved his formation recognition or just got more technically sound, but he became a solid corner. He doesn’t have the speed or playmaking ability of Lavert Hill or David Long, but he’s a solid player at this point.

Watson returns as a fifth year senior, even though he has virtually no hope of starting. He’s one of several fifth year guys who could probably go to a lot of other schools and start. He should get a lot of snaps on defense, and he’s also heavily utilized on special teams. Michigan has a large number of defensive backs, but Watson and fellow backup Ambry Thomas should both be key members of that defensive backfield. College football teams love to throw the football all over the field, and Michigan has at least four decent corners. In fact, this cornerback group from #1 through #4 might be the most talented group altogether that Michigan has had in the last 25 years or so. Watson’s not a game-changer in the commonly accepted use of the term, but he gives Michigan a starter-quality option in case Hill or Long gets injured along the way.

Prediction: Backup cornerback

27Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 6 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #32 Brandon Peters

Brandon Peters (image via Sporting News)

Name: Brandon Peters
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 220 lbs.
High school: Avon (IN) Avon
Position: Quarterback
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #18
Last year: I ranked Peters #21 and said he would be a backup quarterback (LINK). He started four games and completed 57/108 passes (52.8%) for 672 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.
TTB Rating: 90

My oh my, how crazy 2017 seems in retrospect. Looking back at the 2017 countdown, it’s odd to think how the quarterback situation seemed to be in such good hands. I never loved Wilton Speight, but he had a solid year of starting experience under his belt, backup John O’Korn had played well in spot duty, and Peters was the young up-and-comer who looked pretty good in the spring game.

Then all hell broke loose.

Speight got hurt, and O’Korn backslid after an amazing performance against Purdue. Peters managed the games well when he entered against Rutgers and then started against Minnesota and Maryland. In fact, he completed 66.7% of his passes in those first two games, and in his first five games of the year, he threw 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Michigan relied on its defense and run game to win all but the Wisconsin game, in which Peters got knocked out (literally). He missed Ohio State week, and he looked shell-shocked against South Carolina in the bowl game, throwing 2 interceptions.

Now Speight is gone to UCLA, O’Korn is probably campaigning to be the top QB taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, and in their place is . . . Shea Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss.

This spring there were rumors that Dylan McCaffrey had passed Brandon Peters in the pecking order at quarterback, but reports said Peters overtook McCaffrey again by the end of spring. That seems to me to be the right position for those guys at the moment, but Peters obviously doesn’t have a stranglehold on that #2 spot. Everyone expects Patterson to start, and Michigan fans hope he stays healthy. Peters should at least be able to be a game manager again, and hopefully he can be better if he needs to be. I have concerns that he will revert to looking shaken like he did against South Carolina, but I think some people forget that Peters was only a redshirt freshman in 2017. In ye olden days, he either wouldn’t have been on the field, or people would have expected trouble because he was so young. Now we want kids to grow up immediately when they hit a college campus. Hopefully Peters continues to grow and mature on the trajectory we used to expect from quarterbacks in the 1990s.

Prediction: Backup quarterback

26Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 2 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #33 Kwity Paye

Kwity Paye (image via Detroit News)

Name: Kwity Paye
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 241 lbs.
High school: Providence (RI) Bishop Hendricken
Position: Defensive end
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #19
Last year: I ranked Paye #82 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He played in eight games and made 5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.
TTB Rating: 81

Paye came a long way in one year, and I think that portends a very positive future. He made a huge jump in competition level coming from Rhode Island to the Big Ten, but his overall athleticism was enough to get him on the field for eight games. That’s a lot more playing time than many generic 3-stars get as true freshmen, and he didn’t look out of place. He had a half-sack against PSU and another half-sack against Rutgers. (By comparison, Rashan Gary had 27 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack as a true freshman, and Chase Winovich redshirted . . . at linebacker.)

Paye is on a good track to success, and the main competition to be the primary backup at weakside end will probably come from redshirt freshman Luiji Vilain. Vilain is an unknown commodity at this point after redshirting in 2017, partly due to injury. I’m sticking with the guy who saw the field already, and that’s Paye. Starting weakside end Winovich has an excellent motor, so I don’t think Paye is going to get starter-level snaps, but he should get plenty of opportunities to make an impact. He could very well be the heir to Winovich’s job for 2019.

Prediction: Backup weakside end

25Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 3 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #34 Nico Collins

Nico Collins (image via Detroit News)

Name: Nico Collins
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 206 lbs.
High school: Birmingham (AL) Clay-Chalkville
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #4
Last year: I ranked Collins #68 and said he would be a backup wide receiver (LINK). He made 3 catches for 27 yards.
TTB Rating: 85

If the new redshirt rule had been in place in 2017, this is the type of player it would have benefited. Collins was a little bit raw early on, and more was expected from some upperclassmen. When Tarik Black got hurt and when the upperclassmen didn’t produce, the coaching staff burned Collins’s redshirt. He played for the first time in game seven, which immediately ruined his chances of keep his redshirt, since it was so late in the season. Collins made 1 catch against Rutgers and then finished the season with 2 catches for 15 yards against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. It was a forgettable first season, but I think it was significant that he forced his way onto the field.

Collins should be a more important piece of the offense this season. Going from #68 to #34 is a significant jump, and putting a guy with 3 career catches in the top third of the countdown might seem like a stretch. However, Michigan doesn’t have a ton of depth at wide receiver, because Kekoa Crawford is transferring, Maurice Ways is at Cal, and Drake Harris is at Western Michigan. Collins is part of the awesome 2017 wide receiver recruiting class that included Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Oliver Martin. Collins is probably the primary backup on the outside, and those guys get a lot of playing time. I think he’s a notch below Black and Peoples-Jones, but this has the makings of a stacked wide receiver corps. Last year the wideouts didn’t get a ton of targets, but Ole Miss had four wide receivers with 39+ catches (note: Michigan’s top WR in catches was Grant Perry with 25). If Michigan builds the offense around new quarterback Shea Patterson, Collins could be in for a big jump in production. I don’t think he’ll get to 39 catches because Michigan will still probably run the ball and employ several tight ends, but I could see 20 receptions for Collins.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver; 15 catches for 180 yards, 2 TDs