The prevailing thought had been that Michigan football wouldn’t put anyone into the NFL on the first day of the draft this year. Well, about that.
To this point, the earliest a Wolverine had been expected to go was Day 2, but NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah is throwing some cold water on that. In his latest mock draft, Jeremiah predicted there will, indeed, be a Wolverine selected on Day 1, and — surprise! — it’s a defensive lineman. Though not an edge rusher, per usual.
According to Jeremiah, he foresees Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith, who had this year’s scouting combine record in the bench press, going No. 26 to the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith has generated a lot of buzz in personnel circles for his combination of athleticism and power. His best football is ahead of him and he’d fill a need in Dallas.
In the past several drafts, if there was a Day 1 Wolverine selected, he would have been an edge rusher. Last year, it was Aidan Hutchinson. The year before, it was Kwity Paye. Additionally, Rashan Gary and Taco Charlton were first-round picks. The exceptions to the defensive line rule have been safety Jabrill Peppers and linebacker Devin Bush.
Smith didn’t have eye-popping numbers in 2022 with just a half-sack and 2.5 tackles for loss, but he captured a lot of attention, including double teams, which allowed for others to get home to the quarterback. Smith was also pivotal in Michigan’s seventh-ranked run defense this past year.
The draft starts on April 27 and will take place in Kansas City.