NFL Draft Preview: Michigan-style

Tag: Mark Moundros

27Apr 2011
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NFL Draft Preview: Michigan-style

Jonas Mouton (#8) should be one of just two Michigan players drafted this weekend

The NFL Draft has always been a fun time for me, because I would always sit around and wait for the next Michigan player’s name to get called.  Between watching for a Michigan player to get drafted and waiting for the Lions to pick, one Saturday in April was perhaps the most exciting day of the football off-season.  But Michigan’s production of NFL players has waned in recent years.

Ever since six players were taken in the 2008 draft – four in the first three rounds – the Wolverines have only been able to muster five total draft picks in 2009 (4th round: Terrance Taylor; 6th: Morgan Trent) and 2010 (1st: Brandon Graham; 5th: Zoltan Mesko; 7th: Steve Brown).  That’s an average draft position of the 4.6th round.

By contrast, 60 players were taken from 1995-2007, an average of 4.62 per year.  On average, those players were drafted in the 3.68th round.  Not only has the number of Michigan draftees been lower in the past couple seasons, but they’re getting picked lower, too.

That average draft position might rise slightly this year, but there will probably only be two Wolverines chosen this coming weekend:

Jonas Mouton – Linebacker
Mouton measured in at the NFL Combine at 6’1″ and 239 lbs.  I think he could play a couple positions, either as a weak inside linebacker in a 3-4 or as a weakside outside linebacker in a 4-3.  He’s pretty solid in coverage and changes direction well (video here, senior profile here).
Projection: 5th round to the Patriots

Steve Schilling – Offensive guard
Schilling measured in at the NFL Combine at 6’5″, 304 lbs.  He had a pretty good Combine performance, but nothing stellar.  He played a lot of offensive tackle at Michigan, but I think he’s strictly a guard at the next level.  Four years of starting experience should help him (senior profile here).
Projection: 4th round to the Browns

Undrafted: DT Greg Banks, OT Perry Dorrestein, LB Obi Ezeh, OG John Ferrara, LB Kevin Leach, FB/LB Mark Moundros, DE/DT Adam Patterson, CB James Rogers, DT Renaldo Sagesse, TE Martell Webb

I do think there is a remote chance that two other players get drafted late – Obi Ezeh and Martell Webb.  Ezeh was, for all intents and purposes, a four-year starter at middle linebacker.  That might be worth something to a team late in the draft.  And Webb turned into a very good blocker.  If a team is looking for a cheap blocking tight end in the 7th round, they could do worse than picking a 6’4″, 268-pounder with decent athleticism.

15Mar 2011
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Mark Moundros, #44

Fullback Mark Moundros

2010 Countdown: #40 Mark Moundros

Moundros was an outstanding high school runner at North Farmington High School.  In his 2005 senior season, he ran for 2,113 yards and 19 touchdowns, earning all-state honors.  However, he was largely unrecruited and followed his older brother, former walk-on fullback Kirk, to Ann Arbor.

Moundros redshirted as a freshman walk-on in 2006, but then beat out a couple scholarship athletes to earn the starting fullback position in 2007.  He never rushed the ball but ended the season with 3 receptions for 11 yards.  He also was a special teams standout, making 11 tackles on kick and punt coverage.  As a redshirt sophomore in 2008, Moundros started three games; rushed 3 times for 14 yards and 1 touchdown; caught 1 pass for 2 yards and 1 touchdown; and made 3 special teams tackles.  Due partially to an early-season injury, Moundros was limited in 2009.  He played sparingly at fullback and made only two special teams tackles.  Prior to spring practice in 2010, Moundros moved to defense in an attempt to solidify the linebacker position.  He was even named permanent captain for the defense, but it was essentially a failed experiment.  Moundros started one game at weakside linebacker and made a total of 17 tackles on defense and special teams.

3 carries, 14 yards, 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 13 yards, 1 touchdown; 33 tackles, 1 forced fumble

2010: Team captain.  Robert P. Ufer Award (most enthusiastic senior).  Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
2008: Michigan’s special teams player of the year.
2007: Academic All-Big Ten

I was a little suspicious when Moundros beat out more highly touted players for the fullback position in 2007, but I was pleasantly surprised by his play.  He was a thumping lead blocker and seemed to have a good feel for lead blocking in a zone system.  When Rich Rodriguez arrived in 2008, I assumed that Moundros would become Michigan’s poor man’s version of Owen Schmitt, the talented fullback from WVU who now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.  However, that role never really materialized with Rodriguez in Ann Arbor, who chose to use tight ends (Kevin Koger) and converted tailbacks (Kevin Grady) instead of true fullbacks.  The I-formation largely disappeared from Michigan’s repertoire by 2010, when the “starting” fullback was John McColgan.  I feel bad for Moundros for not getting on the field much in his senior season, although he reportedly approached the coaches about the move to linebacker.  I was not impressed with McColgan in his limited time, and I’m not sure if the disappearance of the I-formation had to do with Michigan’s offensive line, its philosophy of getting Denard Robinson into open space, the lack of a solid fullback, or some combination of those three factors.  I am confident that Moundros was a better fullback than a linebacker, the latter of which exposed his inexperience and lack of instincts.  But kudos to him for being the consummate team player, trying to help in an area of need, making an impact on special teams, and earning the captaincy despite not being a star player.  Hopefully, he set a good example for the younger players that will trickle down to their work ethic and leadership in the years to come.

Moundros will likely not play in the NFL.  If he has any future in professional football, it’s at the fullback position.  I would not be surprised to see him play Arena Football or something to that effect, but he also seems to be an intelligent person who has the means to succeed in a life beyond sports.

15Nov 2010
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Michigan vs. Purdue Awards

Obi Ezeh led the team with eight tackles on Saturday.

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . good Vincent Smith.  It’s been about 11.5 months since Smith’s ACL tear, and it looks like he’s finally getting healthy.  Perhaps it’s partially due to the fact that it was Purdue’s defense, but Smith looked quicker and faster than he has all season.  I still don’t like the fact that he was put on the field about nine months after tearing that ACL, but he finally seems to be rounding into form.  Hopefully he maintains his level of play.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . bad quarterbacks.  Denard Robinson seems to have regressed in recent weeks, both throwing and running the ball.  I think it’s fair to say at this point that the number of carries Denard has averaged so far this season are catching up to Robinson and Coach Rodriguez.  Robinson was 13-for-21 for 176 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 bad interceptions.  The big plays are going to be there because of the quality of Michigan’s receivers and the threat of Denard running the ball, but Robinson needs to become a more consistent passer – and soon – if he wants to beat Wisconsin and Ohio State.  Tate Forcier wasn’t any better, hitting only 1/4 passes and averaging only .8 yards per carry.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Obi Ezeh seemed to make a nice transition from middle linebacker to outside linebacker.  Since prior to 2008, I’ve thought that Ezeh was more of an OLB than a MLB.  In that season I really wanted John Thompson to play MLB and have Ezeh moved outside.  That obviously didn’t happen, and Ezeh spent his entire career at MLB until recently.  He ended the game with 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.  Ezeh’s biggest problem at middle linebacker was that he read plays too slowly, but the reads at OLB are slightly simpler and one misstep won’t necessarily get him out of position.  With Craig Roh now playing defensive end (which is also a good move), Ezeh is a good option at OLB.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Mark Moundros.  He was voted defensive captain for a reason . . . and I think the biggest reason was that he was clearly willing to change positions (and sides of the ball!) as a senior just to try to help the team and get on the field.  However, I don’t think he’s fast enough, instinctive enough, or experienced enough to make an impact on defense.  Hopefully the guy he replaced (Jonas Mouton) returns soon from his chest injury.  If Mouton is still unavailable next week, I’d prefer to see J.B. Fitzgerald start at weakside linebacker, Demens in the middle, and Ezeh at OLB.

MVP of the Purdue game . . . Vincent Smith.  This was a tough choice, because nobody really took over the game this week.  There were several guys who had one or two big plays (Craig Roh, Cameron Gordon, Roy Roundtree, James Rogers), but Smith had a solid day and finished with just under 100 yards, including a stellar 19-yard run.  Good for him.

25Jul 2010
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2010 Countdown: #40 Mark Moundros

Name: Mark Moundros
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 234 lbs.
High school: North Farmington High School in Farmington Hills, MI
Position: Fullback/linebacker
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #44
Last year: I ranked Moundros #23 and said he’d be the starting fullback. He assisted on 1 special teams tackle and played sparingly at fullback.

Moundros is an interesting – okay, confusing – case. He had over 2,000 yards rushing as a senior in high school, then walked on to the Michigan football team. He beat out a couple scholarship fullbacks for the starting job, forcing them to switch positions and subsequently leave the school. He was named Michigan’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008, caught a touchdown pass, ran the ball effectively in limited opportunities. He seemed to be the up-and-coming Owen Schmitt of the Wolverines.

Then in 2009 . . . nothing. He got a concussion early in the season on kickoff coverage, but still played in all 12 games. He barely played at fullback, despite looking fast and athletic in the 2009 spring game. After all the hype surrounding Schmitt at WVU, Michigan’s lone fullback specialist was a ghost. Maybe the coaches thought Kevin Grady was a better fullback and deserved to play in his fifth year, despite being a tailback/fullback hybrid-type. Grady did contribute 80 yards on the ground, but 73 of those came against Delaware State.

This past spring Moundros asked to get some reps at inside linebacker, just for a chance to see the field and help the team. He was given the opportunity and will supposedly continue to get reps at MLB, but I don’t expect to see him on the field there this fall. His 2009 disappearing act notwithstanding, I do expect Moundros to be the starting fullback in 2010. He’s a good blocker, has soft hands, and is more athletic than any Michigan fullback since BJ Askew. I don’t expect him to approach Schmitt’s statistics (47 carries, 272 yards, 5.8 ypc, 4 TDs as a senior at WVU), not only because Schmitt was a superior athlete, but because freshman Stephen Hopkins might steal some of those short yardage carries. But he could be a very solid contributor in 2010, and if nothing else, he should make some crushing blocks.

28Jan 2010
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What Could Have Been . . . Christian Wilson

Christian Wilson (#33)
Christian Wilson, a 6’3″, 235 lb. running back/tight end from McKees Rocks, PA, committed to Michigan back in 2007. He was expected to be a part of the class of 2008 after Lloyd Carr convinced him that he could play an H-back role in Mike Debord’s offense. It’s somewhat odd that Carr would recruit a guy for a position that didn’t really exist when he probably knew that he wouldn’t be there past the 2007 season.

Regardless, the hiring of Rich Rodriguez forced Wilson to rethink his options. Rodriguez honored the offer and told him that he could play linebacker, but Wilson wasn’t interested. He pictured himself as an offensive player, but Wilson would only fit Rodriguez’s offense as a fullback . . . and Rodriguez molds his fullbacks out of walk-ons.

Wilson took the hint and opened up his recruitment. He committed to North Carolina and played as a freshman. He caught 2 passes for 19 yards as a true freshman in 2008 and added 5 more catches for 30 yards in 2009.

Michigan’s starting fullback in 2009 was Kevin Grady, who notched 10 carries for 80 yards and 1 touchdown. He also caught 5 passes for 29 yards.

Grady was probably a better player for Michigan’s offense, but moving forward, the fullback duties will fall to fifth year senior Mark Moundros and redshirt junior John McColgan. It would be nice to have an athlete of Wilson’s caliber to play fullback, but considering the fact that a former 5-star running back in Grady only touched the ball 15 times, committing a four-year scholarship to a fullback might not make a great deal of sense. It would be nice to have an extra inside linebacker on the roster, but if Wilson didn’t want to play defense, he probably wouldn’t be great at it, anyway.