2015 NFL Draft Preview: Michigan

Tag: Joey Burzynski

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

14Apr 2015
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Joey Burzynski, #56

Joe Burzynski (center, image via MGoBlog)

Burzynski attended Carlsbad (CA) Carlsbad and was not recruited out of high school.

Burzynski walked on to Michigan’s football program for Rich Rodriguez’s final year in 2010. Too small and light to play, he redshirted. Still very light as a redshirt freshman, he played backup left guard in four games. He finally hit a reasonable playing weight (295 lbs.) in 2012 and saw action as a backup in eight games. During the 2013 season that saw an array of players moving about on the offensive line, Burzynski played in four games and finally earned a start against Indiana . . . and promptly tore his ACL, missing the rest of the season. As a fifth year senior in 2014, he played in just two games, one of those a start when Graham Glasgow was suspended for the season opener.

2 starts, 18 games played

Academic All-Big Ten (2011-2014)

Burzynski seemed like one of those players who was around forever, and then he practically disappeared as a senior. In 2012 and 2013, it seemed like he was a play or two away from getting in the game. This past season he was an afterthought. It used to seem quite rare that walk-ons were elevated to starter status, but we have seen that become a trend in the past several years, including Nick Sheridan, Kevin Leach, Jordan Kovacs, Graham Glasgow, Ryan Glasgow, and Burzynski occasionally. Not much can be said for Burzynski as a player, whom Brady Hoke seemed to love but was just so-so as a contributor at the Michigan level. He generally seemed to know his assignments, but he was not strong enough or big enough to get much movement. Kudos to him for making a five-year college career out of football.

Burzynski’s football career is presumably finished.

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.

1Sep 2014
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Michigan vs. Appalachian State Awards

Jehu Chesson, Devin Gardner, and Devin Funchess combined for a great day on Saturday.

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Dennis Norfleet. It’s not so much that Norfleet himself was a huge threat. He’s dangerous with the ball, but we’ve learned that he can easily get flung around because of his slight stature. No, the nice thing is that Michigan was spreading the ball laterally and getting it to people like Norfleet in the slot. Norfleet caught 3 passes for 30 yards, and Funchess was also a target on some quick screens. Those plays are going to help open up the middle of the field for the running game.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Joey Burzynski. Burzynski’s start was like a gold star for his efforts over the last several seasons, including fall camp. He tore his ACL last year, and he was filling in for the partly injured Kyle Kalis on Saturday. Kalis took over for Burzynski shortly after the game began, and the fifth year walk-on is less likely to play when Graham Glasgow returns next Saturday. Thanks for your efforts, Joey, but Michigan needs bigger and better linemen in there if they want to compete with the big boys.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Desmond Morgan. There have been hints that Morgan will be relegated to the bench in favor of Joe Bolden, but I still see Morgan as the superior player. He did a good job on Saturday and needs to see a majority of the snaps at either MIKE or WILL linebacker.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . nobody. Michigan didn’t get any takeaways, but they put pressure on the quarterback and generally tackled well. Late in the game, Appalachian State bled the clock by running up the middle over and over again, but that mercifully allowed the game to end quicker. If they insisted on passing, Michigan would have hurt the quarterback(s), picked off some passes, and scored more points.

Play of the game . . . Ben Gedeon’s return of a blocked punt for a touchdown. There were so many big plays from Devin Funchess, Devin Gardner, Derrick Green, and De’Veon Smith, but those blocked punt returns are always exciting to watch. Linebacker Mike McCray tipped the punt, and Gedeon fielded it in mid-air. As soon as I saw #42 fielding the punt, I said to myself, “This is gonna be a touchdown.” Gedeon was an excellent high school running back and could probably play that position in college for some teams. He did a nice job of weaving, tiptoeing down the sideline, and diving to stretch the ball across the front edge of the goal line for a 32-yard touchdown return.

Player of the game . . . Devin Gardner. Gardner was 13/14 for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus he rushed 5 times for 9 yards. Best of all, he made good decisions, put appropriate helpings of mustard on his passes, and put the balls where only his receiver could catch them. His one misfire was a crossing route where the receiver was wide open, but it’s tough to argue with those numbers.

1Jul 2014
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2014 Season Countdown: #55 Joey Burzynski

Joey Burzynski (image via Bardwell Lab)

Name: Joey Burzynski
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 288 lbs.
High school: Carlsbad (CA) Carlsbad
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #56
Last year: I ranked Burzynski #53 and said he would be a backup offensive guard. He started one game at left guard and played in a total of four games.

Burzynski went into the 2013 season as a backup, and the walk-on finally got his chance to shine on October 19th against Indiana. In his first career start, he played a few series before an unfortunate thing happened: he tore his ACL. That knocked him out for the rest of the year, and it precipitated the burning of freshman Kyle Bosch’s redshirt.

Burzynski is still 6’1″ and hovering around 290 lbs., and as one might expect from an undersized walk-on, he frequently seems unable to move guys off the line. But the coaching staff likes him, so he gets continual shots to contribute on the field – four games in 2011, eight games in 2012, and four more in 2013 (including the lone start). Michigan appears to have a little more depth on the interior than in past seasons, so maybe Burzynski won’t get as many opportunities to play. Even so, the past three seasons suggest that if a game gets out of hand or if an injury or two occur, we will see #56 trotting out at one of the guard positions. He also offers some flexibility to play center, but that position should be in hand this season.

Prediction: Backup offensive guard