The following players (listed in alphabetical order) are Michigan’s best bets, in my opinion, to be drafted in 2023. Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan teams have produced 6.3 NFL draft picks per class during his tenure, so it’s a good bet that Michigan gets around this number of players to be selected.
TE Erick All Senior Erick All was reportedly considering leaving the NFL after the 2021 season, but he decided to return. After a 2020 season in which he struggled with drops, he turned into a reliable target with 38 catches (second on the team) for 437 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a game-winning catch-and-run against Penn State. All is a solid blocker with good speed and run-after-catch ability, and he has a lithe 6’4″, 245 lb. frame. He probably won’t be first round material, but he could be a day two or three pick.
The spring game will be shown on the Big Ten Network on Saturday, April 2, at 12:00 p.m.
Here are a few things I’ll be curious to watch:
WHO TAKES OVER FOR HASSAN HASKINS? Michigan needs to replace its leading rusher and toughest back in Hassan Haskins, a 6’1″, 220-pounder who is off to the NFL after rushing for 1,327 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021. The Wolverines have two very talented running backs left, Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, but neither one has proven to be a bruiser or short yardage back. They have home run speed but were listed at 200 and 202 pounds, respectively, last season. Redshirt freshman Tavierre Dunlap (6’0″, 222) might be able to step into the role as a big back, but does he have the instincts and power that Haskins showed? Michigan doesn’t need a leading rusher – that will be Corum or Edwards – but they need someone who can pound the ball inside.
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Never underestimate recruiting rankings. I listen to Stewart Mandel and Bruce Feldman’s podcast pretty regularly, and Mandel made the point that usually in these playoffs, the more talented team wins. Winning as an underdog in the CFP is very, very tough to do. Georgia has one of the top few classes every single year, while Michigan seems to be anywhere from about #8 to #25 on a yearly basis. So when walk-on center Andrew Vastardis gets obliterated by the #22 player in the country (6’5″, 275 lb. Travon Walker) on a pull . . . yeah, that’s what happens. This isn’t Rutgers or Indiana or Northwestern with 250-260 lb. 3-star defensive ends. The bottom line is that Georgia is the more talented team, at almost every position.
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MICHIGAN Michigan has been one of the top rushing teams in the country for the entire season. They currently rank #9 (223.9 yards/game) and are tied for 11th in yards per carry (5.31). They’re also #3 in rushing touchdowns with 39 total, topped only by Army, who have 210 more attempts, and Air Force, who have 233 more. Michigan has also allowed the fewest tackles for loss in the country with 2.08 per game; the two closest teams are Air Force and Wisconsin, who are allowed 3.42 per game. It has truly been a remarkable season for the rushing attack.
Redshirt junior running back Hassan Haskins is #7 in the country in rushing attempts (261), #13 with 1,288 rushing yards, and tied for #3 in rushing touchdowns (20). At 6’1″ and 225 lbs. with the ability to twist, contort, get skinny, and hurdle defensive backs, he’s difficult for one man to bring down. Sophomore Blake Corum is second on the team and still an impressive #54 in rushing yards this season with 939 and tied for #45 in rushing touchdowns with 11. His 6.66 yards per carry are #22 in the country. It’s also important to note backup quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who has 23 carries for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns this year. He has factored more and more into the running game as the season has gone along; over the last three games, he has 8 carries for 54 yards and 1 touchdown. While he won’t put up gaudy numbers, he’s a nice changeup for starting quarterback Cade McNamara, who’s not much of a run threat.
Michigan’s offensive line won the Joe Moore Award after being voted the top offensive line in the country. There are no real individual standouts, but they play very well as a unit. Andrew Stueber has been the top player on the line at right tackle, and center Andrew Vastardis has done a very good job this year as a sixth year walk-on.
BIG TEN CHAMPS!!! A lot of people doubted this Michigan team – including yours truly – but they’re right where almost everyone wishes they could be. They beat the brakes off Ohio State and then the Big Ten West opponent, and now they’re headed to the playoffs. I thought they would be 8-4, so I certainly didn’t think they would be 12-1 and in this spot, but I also never lost faith in Jim Harbaugh’s ability to coach. That 2-4 season in 2020 made a lot of people forget that this guy turned around two other college programs, returned the 49ers to the Super Bowl, and made a 5-7 team into a 10-3 team immediately upon arriving in Michigan. He now averages 9.8 wins per season at Michigan if you give him a full year.