2015 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan

Tag: Brennen Beyer

29Apr 2015
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2015 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan

Devin Funchess will likely be the first Michigan player selected in this year’s NFL Draft

As the NFL Draft approaches on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we are bound to see a couple Michigan players’ names called. From 2009-2014, Michigan has been going back and forth between having two and three players drafted (LINK). If that trend continues, just two of these players will be selected. Linked to each player’s name is their senior profile, in which I detail some of their workout numbers and a projection.

Devin Funchess, WR: Funchess is the one guy who might sniff the first round, but it would take a leap of faith by a daring team. A wide receiver with a tight end body, he has never been a plus blocker despite being much taller and heavier than the corners and safeties he has faced. When Michigan actually played him at tight end during his freshman and sophomore seasons, he was downright terrible as a blocker. However, he is large and fairly fast and has a 38.5″ vertical. I would not advise a team to take him as a tight end because he doesn’t have the blocking chops, but he’s a guy who can be a mismatch problem for a team that likes to be creative and use multiple tight ends.
My wild guess: 2nd round (#44 overall) to the New Orleans Saints.
Other good fits: Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New England Patriots

Hit the jump for a rundown of Michigan’s other draft-eligible players.

Jake Ryan, LB: Ryan is a guy who could play SAM linebacker in a 4-3, inside linebacker in a 3-4, or outside linebacker in a 3-4. Personally, I like him on the edge in a 3-4 system, where he can use his playmaking skills to keep contain, rush the passer, and make things happen. He does not have great measurables and doesn’t have a ton of experience on the inside, but if a team is willing to spend some time developing him, I think he could be one of those guys who develops into a starting-caliber inside linebacker, too. Ryan also holds some value as a guy who could be an asset on special teams.
My wild guess: 3rd round (#74 overall) to the New York Giants
Other good fits: Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans

Frank Clark, DE: I did not do a senior profile for Clark, whose domestic abuse issues got him kicked off the team late in his senior year. Clark is a big character risk, as he has had multiple run-ins with the law during his college career. As much as you hope guys overcome these issues, my view is that if it costs Clark a job, there is quite possibly someone more deserving who can take the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions of dollars) that he would potentially earn. He was a fairly consistent player during the second half of his junior season in 2013 and then most of 2014, but he was never consistently great and the production didn’t match up to the practice hype. I think he has probably maxed out his frame at a little over 270 lbs. and he’s only 6’2″, so he might be somewhat limited. A team might want to trim off a little weight and make him a 3-4 rush linebacker, or a 4-3 team could use him as a weakside end. I think his inconsistency and lack of elite athleticism will hinder him, if not his off-the-field issues.
My wild guess: 6th round (#205 overall) to the Indianapolis Colts
Other good fits: Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders

Devin Gardner, WR/QB: Gardner has resigned himself to the fact that he will almost surely have to play wide receiver if he wants to have an NFL career. At Michigan’s pro day in March, he measured in a little over 6’3″ and 218 lbs. He ran a 4.65 forty, did 15 reps on the 225 lb. bench press, showed off a 35.5″ vertical, broad jumped 9’9″, and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.42 seconds. Those numbers are solid but not amazing. Considering the fact that he is changing positions and does not have blazing speed, his options may be limited. However, there are other quarterbacks who have made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver in the NFL quite well – Josh Cribbs, Julian Edelman, Bert Emanuel, etc. Those guys generally seem to be smaller, quicker guys who can get open in the middle of the field, not big guys who can go against NFL corners – arguably the best athletes on the field – and win one-on-one battles. I think Gardner is going to struggle with the move to receiver, but he has size, leadership, toughness, and character on his side. I do not expect him to get drafted, but some team will pick him up as an undrafted free agent

Raymon Taylor, CB: Taylor ran a reported 4.42 forty at Michigan’s pro day, which is too fast to be believable. He’s probably more of a 4.55 or 4.6 guy. Measuring in at a hair under 5’10” and 182 lbs., he’s a little on the small side, too. Taylor made some highlight-reel plays in 2013, but he also got burned at times and did not create a ton of turnovers. He will almost surely not get drafted, so his best bet is to latch on as an undrafted free agent and hope he can make an NFL squad.

Brennen Beyer, DE: Beyer was not extremely productive at Michigan despite being a two-year starter, and he did not help himself out much during a pro day in which he ran a 4.87 forty (keep in mind that those times are typically faster than Combine times, so he’s probably more of a 5-flat guy) and did 20 reps on the bench press. At 6’4″ and 256 lbs., he already seemed to have hit his limit since he struggled to even maintain that weight. His size indicates an NFL outside linebacker, but he lacks the speed to play that position in the NFL and doesn’t offer much as a special teams player. He won’t get drafted, and even if he gets a shot as a free agent, I doubt he will stick with a team.

Will Hagerup, P: Hagerup had an up and down career as Michigan’s punter. At times he would look great, and at other times, he would look mediocre. Suspended frequently for off-the-field behavior, he averaged just 36.0 yards/punt as a sophomore in 2011 and had an uninspiring 42.9-yard average as a fifth year senior this past year. He’s another one who will not get drafted, but he might get invited to a camp. Punters are very transient in the NFL, and guys go from starting NFL punter to standing in the unemployment line on a weekly basis.

Delonte Hollowell, CB: I really only mention Hollowell here because he was the “star” of Michigan’s pro day with a reported 4.34 forty, a 37″ vertical, 20 reps on the bench press, and a 10’1″ broad jump. None of that will get him drafted, because he was ineffective on the field and never became a starter at Michigan. I doubt whether he’ll even get an invitation to a training camp.

Other seniors include:
Joey Burzynski, OG 
Jack Miller, C
Matt Wile, K

22Apr 2015
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Brennen Beyer, #97

Brennen Beyer (image via Bleacher Report)

Coming out of Plymouth (MI) Plymouth in 2011, Beyer was a Rivals 4-star, the #16 strongside end, and #201 overall. He committed in April of 2010 (LINK) and I gave him a TTB Rating of 82.

Despite being rather unready physically, Beyer played as a backup SAM linebacker during his freshman year. It was a position that was roughly similar to weakside end, so he was not asked to drop back in coverage often. He made 11 tackles during his inaugural season. He started nine games as a sophomore, making 19 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, and 1 forced fumble. As a junior in 2013, he bounced from starting at SAM linebacker (when Jake Ryan was recovering from a torn ACL) to starting at strongside end. He made 27 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and the biggest play of his career, a 7-yard interception return for a touchdown against Iowa (thrown by Jake Rudock, who will be playing for Michigan this coming fall). Beyer became the full-time starter at strongside end as a senior in 2014, finishing his final campaign with 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks.

92 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 pass breakup, 1 interception for 7 yards (TD)

Academic All-Big Ten, 2012-2014

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, my comparison between Roh and Beyer was quite apt. Both played linebacker for a spell before turning into strongside ends. Both also had trouble carrying enough weight for the strongside end position and were somewhat limited athletically. As you can see from the commitment post linked above, I always thought Beyer was a year behind where he should have been. He should have been redshirting in 2011 but he was a backup SAM. He should have been working his way slowly onto the field in 2012, but he started nine games. So on and so forth. Ideally, he would be entering his fifth year senior season and penciled in as a starter at one of the end positions. Early on in his career, I lamented Beyer’s playing time because he simply didn’t produce – through two seasons of significant playing time, he had exactly 30 total tackles and .5 tackles for loss. He started to come into his own during his last two seasons, when he was probably talented enough to be a spot starter or heavily used backup, but instead got pressed into duty as a SAM linebacker and strongside end, neither of which truly fit his skill set. Lamenting aside, he had a solid career and will always have that touchdown, which is a special moment for a defensive lineman.

. . . returning that Jake Rudock interception for a touchdown. You can’t help but love watching the big guys up front get an interception once in a while, let alone return it for a score.

Beyer was not invited to the NFL Combine, but he had a decent performance at Michigan’s pro day in mid-March. He ran a 4.9 forty, had a 4.12 shuttle, benched 225 lbs. 20 times, had a 33.5″ vertical, and broad-jumped 9’2″. He still probably won’t get drafted simply because of the aforementioned lack of production. He lacks the size to be a strongside end in the NFL, and he lacks the speed to be an outside linebacker or weakside end at the next level. A team will probably bring him in for a tryout, but I doubt he will make an NFL roster.

9Dec 2014
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2014 Football Team Award Winners

Jake Ryan

Michigan held its annual Football Bust on Monday evening, and here are the award winners from the event:

Bo Schembechler Team MVP: Jake Ryan, LB (5th)

Captains: Jake Ryan, LB (5th) and Devin Gardner, QB (5th)

Hugh J. Rader, Jr. Award (best lineman): Jack Miller, OC (RS Jr.)

Dick Katcher Award (best defensive end/outside linebacker): Brennen Beyer, DE (Sr.)

Roger Zatkoff Award (best linebacker): Jake Ryan, LB (5th)

Robert P. Ufer Award (senior who demonstrates love and enthusiasm for the program): Brennen Beyer, DE (Sr.)

Dr Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award (senior scholar): Joey Burzynski, OG (5th)

I don’t think any of these awards would surprise anyone except perhaps the Rader Award. Miller took a lot of heat during the 2013 season for his performance, and he was eventually replaced by Graham Glasgow last year. But he turned into a solid lineman in 2014, which I think is simply proof that experience is key on the offensive line. Michigan improved with two new starters at the offensive tackles, and the interior included two redshirt juniors and a redshirt sophomore. Assuming all five players return in 2015, Michigan will be starting (from left to right) a sophomore, a fifth year senior, a fifth year senior, a redshirt junior, and a redshirt junior. The 2016 season could see a junior, a redshirt senior (Erik Magnuson?), a redshirt junior (Patrick Kugler?), a redshirt senior, and a redshirt senior. Michigan is on its way to having some age and experience across the offensive line once again.

2Dec 2014
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2014 All-Big Ten teams announced

Jake Ryan

A few All-Big Ten teams have been announced. As you might expect from a 5-7 team with several players who underperformed, Michigan doesn’t have many representatives.

1st team: Jake Ryan, LB
2nd team: Devin Funchess, WR

1st team: Jake Ryan, LB

Jake Ryan, LB

Honorable Mention
Brennen Beyer, DE
Blake Countess, CB
Will Hagerup, P
Raymon Taylor, CB

I am completely behind the selection of #47. During the regular season, Jake Ryan was #2 in the conference in tackles (112) and tackles per game (9.33); he was also #4 in tackles for loss (14.0) and #5 in tackles for loss per game (1.17). He also had 2 sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, and 5 quarterback hurries.

I am less convinced by the selection of Devin Funchess. He was #3 in receptions (62), #5 in yardage (733), #24 in yards/catch (11.82), and tied for #12 in touchdowns (4). Congratulations to him, but here’s a list of players I would rank above him:

Tony Lippett, Michigan State: 60 catches, 1124 yards, 11 touchdowns
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers: 53 catches, 1043 yards, 10 touchdowns
Kenny Allen, Nebraska: 40 catches, 717 yards, 5 touchdowns
Devin Smith, Ohio State: 26 catches, 662 yards, 8 touchdowns
Michael Thomas, Ohio State: 40 catches, 639 yards, 8 touchdowns
Stefon Diggs, Maryland: 52 catches, 654 yards, 5 touchdowns

As for the guys named Honorable Mention, Blake Countess has no business being on that team. He had a very rough season, made 24 tackles, and broke up 3 passes. No interceptions, no big plays, and he got picked on rather often. Beyer had a decent year (35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks), but the best defensive lineman on the team was Frank Clark, who may not have been included since he was kicked off the team. Taylor had 0 interceptions and 6 pass breakups; not a terrible season, but nothing special, either. Hagerup averaged 42.9 yards/kick (#3 in the conference) and pinned teams deep fairly often.

The biggest exclusion I see is sophomore cornerback Jourdan Lewis (39 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 6 pass breakups), who was the best player in the secondary for Michigan. I wouldn’t have minded seeing junior linebacker Joe Bolden selected for Honorable Mention, either; he ended the year with 102 tackles (#11 in the conference), 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 1 pass breakup.

19Aug 2014
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2014 Season Countdown: #10 Brennen Beyer

Brennen Beyer

Name: Brennen Beyer
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 256 lbs.
High school: Plymouth (MI) Plymouth
Position: Defensive end
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #97
Last year: I ranked Beyer #38 and said he would be a part-time starting SAM linebacker. He started five games at SAM, seven games at defensive end, and finished with 27 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception (returned for a touchdown), and 1 forced fumble.

Beyer likely would have been a backup in 2013 but for an ACL injury to starting strongside linebacker Jake Ryan. Beyer – who had played SAM earlier in his career – immediately moved back from weakside end to linebacker and rotated with Cameron Gordon. Once Ryan returned mid-season, Beyer moved back to the defensive line. He had his best season yet and finished with 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks, plus an interception returned for a touchdown against Iowa. I have long held the belief that Beyer plays more because of his ability to carry out his assignment rather than his athletic skills or playmaking ability. For a twelve-game starter at linebacker and defensive end to finish with just 27 tackles and so few tackles for loss, that pretty much has to be the case. After week four of last season, Beyer made zero tackles for loss or sacks.

This season Beyer appears to be a starter by default. The coaches have been throwing him in there since freshman year with mediocre results, and I see no reason for that to change now. Not only that, but Michigan is thin at defensive end and only has nine seniors on the roster. Two of those seniors are defensive ends (Frank Clark is the other), and the rest of the Wolverines need their leadership. The challengers at strongside end are sophomore Taco Charlton (2 tackles, .5 tackles for loss) and redshirt freshman Henry Poggi; they have talent, but barely a lick of experience. Beyer will still be mostly an edge player in the 4-3 Over, but I still think he’s a little undersized. He will probably raise his production level a little bit just by being on the strong side and playing a lot, but I will not get my hopes up for an outstanding season. By this point in his career, we seem to know that Beyer will give a steady performance. Luckily, there are several other potential stars on the defense that can be the playmakers.

Prediction: Starting strongside end; 35 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks