After two years of the Harbaugh era, it is clear that he is absolutely one of the best developers of players in America. With a school record 11 players drafted in the 2017 NFL draft, and many more sent to the NFL on undrafted free agent deals, no one can dispute that any more.
With camps in full swing around the NFL, I broke down how each Michigan draftee will fit into their new NFL team’s roster:
Jeremy Clark, CB, New York Jets
6th Round, Pick #197
1st mini camp ✅ pic.twitter.com/TyAzPvgaZ5
— Jeremy Clark (@34Jerm) June 15, 2017
Jeremy Clark is a big, physical cornerback who has the ability to defend passes in press coverage on the edge. Standing at 6’3” with a 220 lb. frame, Clark has all of the physical tools needed to succeed in the NFL. One important measurable about Clark is his speed. He did not run at the NFL combine due to the lasting effects of his ACL injury against Penn State in the 2016 season, but he is on record saying that he has ran a 4.43 prior to the injury. To put this into perspective, the average cornerback 40 time at the NFL combine was 4.55 for the 2008-2012 draft classes.
Even with the ACL injury, the Jets were willing to risk a 6th round pick to draft a possibly dynamic special teamer, and a player with high upside to break into their young, inexperienced secondary in later seasons.
Jake Butt, TE, Denver Broncos
5th Round, Pick #145
Will be wearing #80 😌 pic.twitter.com/dX5bqhzCI6
— jbooty (@JakeButtTE) May 4, 2017
We all know how Jake Butt affected the Michigan passing game, especially over the past few seasons. He is the most prolific tight end in Michigan history, shown by the fact that he is the school record holder for both career receptions (136) and yards (1,646) by a tight end. Butt’s draft position certainly does not reflect his on field ability. According to Pro Scouts back in 2016, had Butt left school after his junior season, he would have been a 2nd-3rd round pick. Even late into his senior season, the consensus was that Butt would be drafted 2nd-3rd round, after another great year at Michigan.
Then, he tore his ACL in the bowl game against Florida State.
The value in this pick for the Broncos is that a return to form from before the injury is a 2 or 3 round upgrade from where the Broncos drafted him. Butt has the talent and ability to be the best tight end in this draft (yes, better than Alabama and now Tampa Bay Buccaneers athletic freak and superstar OJ Howard). Butt can be a starter from day one in the Broncos system, and he will compete with the likes of NFL veteran and career blocking tight end Virgil Green as well as former Ohio State Buckeye Jeff Heuerman for snaps.
If Butt impresses early in training camp and in preseason games, and is able to avoid the injury bug for good, look to see him as a regular target for either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch on Sundays.
Jehu Chesson, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
4th Round, Pick #139
— Zesty NFL KC Chiefs (@zesty_chiefs) June 15, 2017
Jehu Chesson’s ascension into the limelight at Michigan happened through the course of his junior season, his first season under Coach Harbaugh. He went from a below average, underperforming depth receiver, to one of Michigan’s premiere pass catchers.
When Jake Rudock was at the helm, Chesson displayed his NFL ability, taking Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves (2016 1st Round Pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) to the woodshed, and finishing the Florida game with over 100 yards and a TD. He also was able to put up over 100 yards and a TD against Ohio State, and 200 yards and 4 TDs against Indiana. However, Chesson suffered a knee injury late in that season’s bowl game, and when he returned for his senior season in 2016, he did not look the same. While the injury was part of the reason he struggled, he also endured erratic quarterback play throughout his final season.
After a significant drop in numbers, there are major questions about Chesson’s long term sustainability in the NFL from both a talent and injury perspective.
From the Chiefs standpoint, taking a receiver in the 4th round of the draft is worth the risk, as they have one of the most anemic passing offenses in all of the NFL. Over the past three seasons, the Chiefs passing offense has ranked 29th, 30th, and 19th respectively. Chesson should help to alleviate that a little bit, if he can crack the lineup. He is slated to begin the preseason on the depth chart behind veteran receivers Chris Conley, Tyreek Hill, and Albert Wilson.
With the release of Jeremy Maclin, it will give Chesson the opportunity to get important snaps. Training camp and the preseason games will show if Chesson can make a move into the top 3 receiving slots, or if he will be mostly a special teams commodity this season.
Ryan Glasgow, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
4th Round, Pick #138
— Bengals Roar (@BengalsRoarrrrr) June 4, 2017
Another year, another Glasgow. It seems that Michigan has become a Glasgow brother factory, with Ryan’s older brother Graham already a center in the NFL for the Detroit Lions, and younger brother Jordan the next in line to prove that he has NFL caliber ability. Ryan went from a relatively unknown walk-on player 5 years ago to a staple of the interior of the defensive line, and a major contributor in his final 3 seasons. Throughout his career, he totaled 77 tackles and 4 sacks, with 39 of those tackles and 3 of those sacks coming last season alone.
As for his impact on the bengals, it may have to wait a few seasons. Glasgow needs to make a good impression during training camp and the preseason to see the field early. He is currently stuck behind veterans Geno Atkins, Pat Sims, and Andrew Billings on the depth chart. While Glasgow figures to be a part of the Bengals’ defensive line rotation, and will certainly see some playing time, he shouldn’t have a major impact on the team during his rookie season.
Ben Gedeon, LB, Minnesota Vikings
4th Round, Pick #120
— Vikings Report (@vikings_fanly) May 12, 2017
Ben Gedeon may be one of the most underappreciated players to come out of Michigan in a long time. While not the most athletic player on defense, he was the leader of the team in tackles last season, with 106. He was a consistent performer, yet received little to no hype for his accomplishments. While I do believe Gedeon is an outstanding defender and great at finding the ball carrier, it was surprising to see him go as early as he did with his general lack of athleticism and top end speed. He ran just a 4.75 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, but is a good tackler and takes care of the fundamentals.
While I don’t believe Gedeon is a starter on the Vikings, I do think he is a fantastic draft pick as a special teamer and depth linebacker. He slots in as the backup middle linebacker to starter Eric Kendricks for the Vikings, and he is sure to make an impact as a standout special teamer this season.
Amara Darboh, WR, Seattle Seahawks
3rd Round, Pick #106
— Seahawks Report (@seahawks_fanly) May 24, 2017
This is the perfect landing spot for Darboh. In 2016, he led Michigan in every relevant receiving category, including receptions (57), yards (862), and touchdowns (7). Darboh is yet another example of Harbaugh’s ability to develop players.
From a relative unknown during his first few years with the program, Darboh grew into a dependable receiver in his final two years with the program, and in his final year, took over as the go-to target. Standing at 6’2” and weighing in at 214, Darboh is a big, physical target for Russell Wilson. He has the speed (4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) and talent to step into the lineup as a day one starter alongside longtime receiver Doug Baldwin.
With the loss of Marshawn Lynch stinging Seattle’s offense last year, they have clearly looked to bolster their running game with the addition of Eddie Lacy. With a likely improved running game, this will open up the play-action pass for Russell Wilson and company. If Darboh performs like he is capable in Seahawks camp, he can challenge for major playing time this year. The mixture of limited star receivers and the addition of Eddie Lacy to the running game could result in a very big rookie year for Darboh.
Delano Hill, S, Seattle Seahawks
3rd Round, Pick #95
Delano Hill is 21 years old. He looks older than most of the coaches… pic.twitter.com/sEKZ5O6MAN
— 💧 (@SeahawkGraphics) May 15, 2017
Once again, the Seattle Seahawks are a fantastic landing spot for just about any draftee. The Pete Carroll-Jim Harbaugh relationship/rivalry goes back over a decade, and while they may have been fierce rivals when Carroll was at USC and Seattle while Harbaugh was at Stanford and San Francisco, it is well known that Coach Carroll has a tremendous amount of respect for the NFL talent Harbaugh is able to produce at the college level. And the two Michigan players picked in this draft by the Seahawks, Amara Darboh and Delano Hill show this.
Hill is a physical safety that fits the mold that the Seahawks look for in their secondary players. While at Michigan, he was a steady performer and a guy that could be relied on in coverage. He recorded 117 tackles over his career with the team.
With the Seahawks secondary being absolutely stacked with the likes of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas, it is unlikely Hill will see a ton of playing time in his rookie season with the Seahawks. Look for him to be a major contributor on special teams, and expect him to have a real opportunity to start, should Earl Thomas or Kam Chancellor go down. His opportunity to become a permanent starter could come as early as 2018, due to Earl Thomas looking at a possible early retirement. Regardless, Hill makes for a solid young addition to an aging Seahawks secondary.
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Dallas Cowboys
3rd Round, Pick #92
— SportsDay Cowboys (@dmn_cowboys) June 9, 2017
I have no problem saying Jourdan Lewis was the absolute best cover cornerback in this entire draft class. He can certainly be talked about as one of the best cornerbacks to ever wear the maize and blue, and while the term “lock-down corner” is thrown around a lot, he certainly was one. But that didn’t stop him from slipping as Lewis slid to the third round because of his measurables, and questions regarding a possible domestic violence case.
While both are valid concerns, I believe Lewis will thrive on the Cowboys. He has the playmaking ability and ball instincts to make it in today’s NFL, even with his lack of height (5’10”) and speed (4.54 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine). He can start as a slot cornerback in the Nickel package from day one, and he should become a big time playmaker for the Cowboys secondary. If there are any questions about Lewis’ playmaking ability, simply take a look at his game clinching interception against Wisconsin in 2016, and all concerns will be alleviated.
Chris Wormley, DL, Baltimore Ravens
3rd Round, Pick #74
— Ravens Insider (@RavensInsider) May 18, 2017
Chris Wormley is one of the safest picks in the draft. He has the experience of both playing on the interior of the defensive line, as well as on the edge. His motor never stops. Of course, John Harbaugh, the coach of the Ravens, knows the kind of player he is getting here.
With his connection with Jim Harbaugh, extensive conversations were likely held between the Harbaugh brothers on how Wormley would fit into the Ravens system. Wormley received a 3rd-team All-Big-Ten honor for his performance in the 2015 season, and followed that up with 1st-team All-Big-Ten honors in his return for the 2016 season.
If the Ravens want to begin to rebuild their strong defense from the 2000s, Chris Wormley could be one integral piece of that process for years to come. Wormley joins former teammate Willie Henry on the Ravens defensive line, and will compete for starting snaps right away.
Taco Charlton, DE, Dallas Cowboys
1st Round, Pick #28
— Dallas Cowboys (@ThemCowboysRR) June 18, 2017
Taco Charlton is an absolute monster, and, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a guy named Taco on their team? In all seriousness, Charlton is one of the best edge rushers in the entire draft. He seemed to live in the opponent’s backfield during his final two years in college, but especially his senior year. He recorded 40 tackles and 10 sacks during his senior season, and could have had much more than that if he had not been held so much by opposing offensive tackles when coming off the edge.
When looking back at the Ohio State game tape, and ESPECIALLY the Michigan State game tape, there are multiple instances of Charlton being held when beating a tackle off the edge, and receiving no call from the referees. With his explosive first two steps, we should expect Charlton’s trend of spending time in opponent’s backfields to continue in the NFL. Charlton should absolutely be a day one starter, and he is good enough to have Cowboys fans comparing him to legend DeMarcus Ware soon enough.
Jabrill Peppers, S, Cleveland Browns
1st Round, Pick #25
— Detroit Informer (@Detroitinformer) June 8, 2017
Jabrill Peppers is one of the most athletic players to come out of college this year. We all know about the hype, and the very real impact he had on the Michigan football program. He received nearly every possible accolade he could have received during his time at Michigan, including being a finalist for the Heisman trophy. However, even though Michigan fans were quick to hail him as the next Charles Woodson, it didn’t necessarily turn out exactly like that.
While Peppers may be an athletic freak, his coverage and ball skills left quite a bit to be desired during his time in school.
On the other hand, his instincts, speed, tackling ability, etc. make him one of the best players in this draft.
If Peppers can be properly coached in coverage by the Browns staff, I am certain he will be one of the top 5 best players to come out of this draft. His tackling instincts, ability to cut up the field and change directions, and even his punt/kickoff return ability make him a versatile asset to a depleted Browns roster. Peppers should absolutely start somewhere on day one, where that’s at safety, nickel cornerback or as a return man, with the chance to see him get some touches on offense as well.
With Peppers joining #1 overall pick Myles Garrett on the defensive side of the ball, expect the Browns defense to be much improved this season.
Out of all of the drafted Wolverines, who do you think is going to have the most successful NFL career? Who will be the biggest steal? Who will struggle to see the field? Let us know in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog