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2024 NFL Draft: Michigan CB Mike Sainristil scouting report

A composite three-star prospect out of Everett High School in Everett, Massachusetts, Mike Sainristil was a star receiver and cornerback who chose Michigan and totaled 37 catches on 69 targets for 541 yards and five touchdowns in his time with the Wolverines. Sainristil brought that receiver’s understanding to his role as a primary slot defender, capping out in Michigan’s national championship season of 2023 with 29 catches allowed on 50 targets for 412 yards, 206 yards after the catch, four touchdowns, six interceptions, six pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 71.8. He also had 29 solo tackles, 18 stops, two sacks, and 11 total pressures.

In today’s NFL, you need at least one slot defender if you want your defense to work, so don’t pass Sainristil by just because he’s limited to the inside. He’s a smart, tough, aggressive, scheme-transcendent player who can work into an NFL roster right away.

PLUSES

— Quick closer to the receiver, and has a better eye for the ball than a lot of receivers do.

— Can lay in the weeds and jump routes with excellent timing and ball skills. Six INT and six PBU in the 2023 season.

— Matches the receiver through the route in press and off coverage, and has the easy speed to work through them.

— Understands and responds to switches and route combinations. Very heady in the open field.

— Outstanding hitter for his size; he’ll come down and lay the wallop, and a lot of his pass deflections come as a result of that.

— Great blitzer who shoots gaps like a running back, and is quick enough to get to the quarterback at an angle from the slot.

MINUSES

— Size (5′ 9½”, 182 pounds) will limit him to the slot at the next level.

— Has a tendency to leave too much cushion on angular routes, leading to easy completions he has the talent to prevent.

— Not a run defender of note; he gets blocked out too easily and his tackling is more made for receivers than running backs.

— Frenetic play style will have him biting on movement and action in the backfield.

— Will lose physical battles with tight ends and bigger receivers off the snap and up the seam.

We’re past the eras in which slot defenders were thought of in a pejorative sense; in a time when nickel is the new base defense, if you don’t have at least one good slot guy against a plethora of 3×1 and empty sets, your defense is going to be in trouble. Sainristil projects as a plug-and-play slot man with some hybrid safety potential, and I think that gives him second-round juice.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire