On Monday, our story with CBS Sports/NFLDraftScout.com Senior NFL Draft Analyst Dane Brugler posted, where he predicted the Wolverines could tie or set the all-time record for most players from one school selected in a NFL Draft (Ohio State holds the current mark with 14). That means the impressive class goes far beyond headliners Jabrill Peppers and Taco Charlton, who he also broke down in the piece.
The best of the rest starts with four others who Brugler listed among the top 100 prospects available in the April 27-29 event. The top-ranked prospect out of those is cornerback Jourdan Lewis, who the expert lists eighth among a deep cornerback class and 45th overall in the draft regardless of position. However, a March domestic violence charge — which Lewis pleaded not guilty to — has somewhat clouded the Big Ten’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year’s draft stock. Brugler awarded Lewis a second-round grade in his 201-page draft guide.
“Not that there’s any correct time for that to happen, it’s even worse timing now because he doesn’t have the combine and the Senior Bowl to give his side of the story to scouts and teams," Brugler explained. "Teams are having to do their homework right now and play a little bit of catch-up.
“If they don’t have enough information before the draft, that could potentially take him off some boards if teams don’t feel comfortable with the situation. Whatever the outcome is, hopefully we find that out before the draft, just so teams have the right information to go on.”
When looking at Lewis solely on the field Brugler calls the record-setting corner an “outstanding football player.” The only on-field concern about the two-time All-American is his size after measuring in at 5-10 and 188 pounds at the NFL Combine. However, the scribe was quick to note that Lewis’ 31 5/8-inch arms — Brugler called it “impressive arm length” in his guide — help offset some of the height concerns.
“He’s not the biggest, we know that, but he plays bigger than he looks; he’s quick, I love his cover instincts and technique,” Brugler noted. “He legitimately gets upset if there’s a completion on his watch, and you have to love that in a corner. You have to love his tenacity that he plays with.
“I think he’s the ideal nickel corner that the NFL is looking for. Just based on talent, I would consider him late first round, early second round, but of course we’ll have to figure out what is going on off the field before he gets drafted.”
Brugler admits some NFL teams, simply based on size, won’t even consider Lewis as a possible outside cornerback for them, but the writer thinks all 32 squads should view him as an asset in the slot.
“I think his best fit will be inside as a nickel and that’s not a negative, that’s not something that Lewis should take offense to because nickels are basically starters in today’s NFL,” he said. “He’s going to be on the field just as much as the outside corners, and you can argue that being a nickel is even tougher — you have more space to deal with, you have to be a lot tougher because you’re going to see a lot more blocks as you’re closer to the ball. It’s something where if you can find the right nickel corner that’s even more valuable than the No. 2 corner on the outside. It’s something I think Jourdan Lewis should wear as a badge of honor.”
Versatile defensive lineman Chris Wormley is viewed by Brugler as the No. 5 defensive lineman (in his guide, he splits edge rushers from all other defensive linemen) and No. 62 overall prospect in the draft. Brugler grades the 6-5, 298-pounder as a second-round prospect and even called him one of the safest draftees available.
“I love Wormley, I think the fact that he’s not a premiere pass rusher could ding him a little bit for teams where that’s what they’re looking for, but I could argue he has one of the highest floors of any prospect in this class, meaning you know what you’re getting with him,” he noted. “He could be a base end, he could move inside, he could provide that position flexibility, he’s very good against the run, a high-effort guy — there’s so much to like about who he is, and he doesn’t have that huge ceiling, but you have a good feeling that he’s not going to bust."
Tight end Jake Butt is another two-time All-American and record-setting senior on his way out of Ann Arbor. Brugler contends the torn ACL suffered in the Orange Bowl has made Butt into “a little bit of the forgotten guy.” The draft guru lists him the No. 4 tight end among another deep position group and No. 77 overall.
“Everything I’m hearing is the rehab is going great — he has a very good chance that if he’s not ready for training camp, he should at least be ready for the start of the season,” Brugler explained. “Before the injury, we’re talking about him as a solid second-round player. I think he still has a shot to go in the second round, but regardless I think he should be gone on day two, rounds two or three.
“He would be a good value pick because he’s going to go a little later than initially thought because of the knee injury. Medical rechecks are coming up in Indianapolis — as long as everything goes well there, I think there’s a good chance he’ll come off the board in round two.”
The final U-M product to make Brugler’s list of the top 100 prospects in his guide is wide receiver Amara Darboh, who he lists as the No. 12 wideout and No. 79 overall prospect available.
“I’m a big fan of Darboh,” he said. “Kind of what I said with Butt in the tight end class, this is a very deep wide receiver group on day two — there are a lot of different options depending upon what type of receiver you’re looking for.
“With Darboh, I think you’re getting a guy who can be a legitimate No. 2 wider receiver. He has the size — 6-1.5, 215 pounds — ran a solid 4.4 at the combine, so he checks all the boxes from a size and speed standpoint. I think he’s a very polished route runner. He’ll make some acrobatic catches; now he’ll drop some easy ones, but I think he has the ball skills to make the tough catch look routine. There’s a lot to like about him from a physical standpoint, a mental standpoint, I love the polish that he shows in his routes."
Brugler compares Darboh to third-year Houston Texans pass catcher Jalen Strong, who was a third-round pick out of Arizona State and has battled injuries while catching 28 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns in 18 games.
“But I think Darboh has a little more speed and is a little more crafty with his routes,” Brugler emphasized. “I think he should be off the board somewhere in that day-two area, probably round 3.”
With so many draftable prospects hailing from the maize and blue, Brugler gave some quick takes on a few other prospects, and there is a chart with his grades/rankings on all former U-M players below that:
• “I think a guy a lot of people are sleeping on is De’Veon Smith, the running back. He didn’t test well, but he’s just a bruiser. Some teams are looking for that type of back on their roster because he can pass protect — you could argue he’s one of, if not the best blocker in this draft at the running back position. You can leave him on the field and feel comfortable that your quarterback is not going to get hit with him in the background. I think that will add some value and some teams will be all about De’Veon Smith in the later rounds.”
• “Ben Gedeon at linebacker is a guy that waited his turn and he made the most of his chance when he got on the field. I think he’s going to be a day-three player — a mid-to-late-round pick — but it wouldn’t shock me if he outplayed his draft value down the line. He’s a guy that can help you out on special teams, provide depth instantly on your linebacker depth chart.”
• “Then in the secondary, I think when you look at Channing Stribling and what he did making the most of his opportunity due to injury, that’s only going to benefit him. Jeremy Clark, kind of like Butt, is a forgotten guy with his injury. Scouts haven’t really been able to see him work out in a full capacity yet and because of that he’s probably a late-rounder at best. But he was looked at as a possible mid-round pick before the season. If the injuries work themselves out, I think he’s definitely a player that can surprise some people down the line.”
Dane Brugler's Rankings Of Former U-M Players
Top 100 Rank
S Jabrill Peppers
EDGE Taco Charlton
DL Chris Wormley
TE Jake Butt
WR Amara Darboh
S Delano Hill
CB Channing Stribling
OT Erik Magnuson
DL Ryan Glasgow
LB Ben Gedeon
RB De'Veon Smith
CB Jeremy Clark
P Kenny Allen
WR Jehu Chesson
Priority Free Agent
OG Ben Braden
Priority Free Agent
OG Kyle Kalis
Priority Free Agent
DL Matthew Godin
Priority Free Agent
S Dymonte Thomas
Priority Free Agent
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