I posted the recruiting grades for the offensive side of the ball (LINK), so here are the grades for the defense. Rankings used are from the 247 Composite.
Lost from 2014: Brennen Beyer (graduation), Frank Clark (suspension/graduation)
Commits: Shelton Johnson, Reuben Jones
Comments: Michigan didn’t land the highest value targets, and the two guys they brought in were last-minute fixes who don’t provide a huge speed rush that Michigan has been lacking in recent years. But Michigan does need numbers at the position, where the graduations of Beyer and Clark left the team with few viable replacements and a couple guys who perhaps should be playing defensive tackle instead of on the edge. Johnson (3-star, #20 SDE) has some high upside and Jones (3-star, #44 DE) has potential, too, so at least one of these guys should pay dividends sooner or later.
Lost from 2014: None
Comments: Neither coaching staff deemed defensive tackle as a priority. Hoke only offered a handful of guys and actually backed off several targets last summer, and Harbaugh hardly made an attempt aside from offering defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, who never visited. Michigan is in a situation where they have a lot of guys in their middle years of football, but they will need to renew their efforts in 2016 to avoid a huge age gap.
Lost from 2014: Michael Ferns III (transfer), Jake Ryan (graduation)
Comments: Jake Ryan was a Butkus Award finalist and a stud at middle linebacker for Michigan last season, but the Wolverines should not miss him too awfully much with four senior linebackers scheduled to be on the roster in 2015 (Joe Bolden, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Desmond Morgan, James Ross). However, the only non-senior to have played much so far is junior Ben Gedeon, which means Michigan will be searching for answers in 2016. It would have been a good idea to land at least one guy to redshirt and adjust to the college game, because that guy could have been deployed in 2016. Assuming the five aforementioned guys suck up most of the playing time in 2015, the Wolverines will be very green in 2016.
Lost from 2014: Delonte Hollowell (graduation), Raymon Taylor (graduation)
Commits: Keith Washington
Comments: Much like the running back position, Michigan had two highly touted guys committed at different junctures – Shaun Crawford (Notre Dame) and Garrett Taylor (Penn State) – and both of them slipped out of their grasp. Cornerback is a spot where guys can contribute early, but with Jabrill Peppers moving to safety, the Wolverines are very thin at the position. Washington (3-star, #77 ATH) was a high school quarterback who did not play a ton of defense, so he’s a project. If anyone higher in the pecking order gets hurt, the Wolverines could be in serious trouble, although Peppers has the ability to move back to corner if necessary.
Lost from 2014: None
Commits: Tyree Kinnel
Comments: I don’t see Kinnel (4-star, #11 S)as a huge playmaker in college, but he’s a good field general with some respectable athletic skills. The only safety scheduled to depart after 2015 is starter Jarrod Wilson, and most of the other safeties on the roster are good athletes without a great understanding for the game. So if new safeties coach Greg Jackson can coach those guys up, Michigan should be in very good shape here.
Lost from 2014: Will Hagerup (graduation), Matt Wile (graduation)
Commits: Andrew David
Comments: Punter is a position that can often be filled by walk-ons, which is likely what will happen in 2015 with Kenny Allen expected to take over the punting job. With no walk-on kickers daring to take the job, Michigan offered one guy and one guy only to be their placekicker, and they got him. David (3-star, #9 K) will be in a situation where he has a special teams coach in John Baxter, which should speed his development at least a little bit. Michigan got exactly whom they wanted.