Freshpectations for 2016: Wide Receivers

For Michigan’s 2016 class, there wasn’t a bigger haul at one position than the wide receiver position and it comes at a good time. Thanks to the lack of playmakers on the depth chart, the six receivers that UM signed may have some of the highest expectations out of any other positional group.

That haul includes Dylan Crawford, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Ahmir Mitchell, Brad Hawkins and Chris Evans.

Crawford

MGoFish Scouting Report

Every class features tons of legit wide receiver recruits but there are only a few that are as polished a receiver and route runner as Crawford. Though he needs to add some more weight to his frame, I believe he has a real shot to see the field from day one thanks to that technical skill as well as his athleticism and speed. Something Michigan is missing on the depth chart.

Scout.com Scouting Report

Crawford has a nice skill set and is one of those receivers who does everything well. He has a solid frame and is much stronger than he looks. He’ll mix it up and isn’t afraid to go to the hard places on the field and make a catch. He shows a nice burst, is a polished route runner and has good top end speed. He’s a natural pass catcher and always uses his hands rather than his body to make a play. He’s also a smart kid and knows the game. He knows when to settle in to a zone or come back for his QB. As he puts on some more weight and strength, his game will rise to another level.

Highlights

McDoom

MGoFish Scouting Report

Though he looked to be a perfect fit for the Oregon offense, McDoom now becomes Michigan’s most dynamic receiver recruit and something the roster has been missing for quite some time. He has the speed to take the top off of the defense and the elusiveness to be a star in the slot. If he adds the right size and continues to develop, he could end up being one of the most impactful players in the class.

ESPN’s Scouting Report

This guy is sneaky good in his ability to create separation and make plays when the ball comes his way. Sometimes he can look flashy and sometimes he doesn’t, but the end result is productive. He is very good at navigating zone coverage from the slot position. Understands the moving parts and can settle into open spaces. Is just fast enough quick enough to win one-on-one on the outside, but may not have a consistent edge at the next level if matched up against elite personnel. This is the type of player that can come out of nowhere and make a huge play but at the same time be a role player if need be.

McDoom is a polished and versatile target. Can be used as a utility weapon in the spread, a fulltime slot and an outside target that’s capable of winning vertically. We like his natural feel for the game and he plays with a lot of confidence. He possesses some readymade traits for the next level as he is already a fairly precise route runner. A good player for power five conference programs.

Highlights

Johnson

MGoFish Scouting Report

Johnson is the exact type of receiver that the staff was looking to add along side big, physical receivers Ahmir Mitchell and Brad Hawkins. He is a small, quick, home run threat that can play on the outside and in the slot, which is huge since the slot depth is lacking that dynamic playmaker at the moment.

247Sports (via Clint Brewster) Scouting Report

No question when you put on the tape that Johnson has elite skills after the catch. He can line up out wide and beat cornerbacks deep on the “Go” route or line up in the slot and use his quicks. Johnson’s shiftiness and lateral agility in tight spaces is exceptional. Really good avoiding tackles and getting yards on the quick wide receiver screen. A legitimate threat to score whenever he touches the ball. In the mold of Golden Tate type receiver that brings toughness and edge to the position and has versatility to line up in different spots on the line of scrimmage. Not a really big receiver but plays bigger than his size. Snatches the ball nicely out in the front and has crisp hands. Works to get open in scramble situations and does a good job improvising when the play breaks down. A player that can really impact the game because of his speed and explosiveness. Will instantly upgrade the receiver position for Michigan.

Highlights

Mitchell

MGoFish Scouting Report

Mitchell is one of the best athletes in the entire class and should be a great fit at wide receiver. While he’s still raw, he has that height, weight, speed combination everyone wants in a receiver. If he continues to develop, he could be a very good player in the Maize and Blue, even if he spent time at safety.

Scout.com’s (via Brian Dohn) Scouting Report

Mitchell is a long and athletic, and gets down the field well. He has good hands and knows how to use his body to gain position against smaller defensive backs. He comes out of breaks well but needs to be a bit more precise in his route running. He is a tremendous competitor, and it shows when the ball is in the air. He high-points the ball, and doesn’t mind going over the middle. He can be a possession receiver, or a big play guy.

Highlights

Hawkins

MGoFish Scouting Report

Hawkins is a big, fast, physical wide receiver that can make the tough catches that should make him a go-to possession receiver in the future. He reminds me a little bit of former Michigan WR Marquise Walker because of his mix of size and big play ability, both of which are badly needed in Drevno’s offense.

Scout.com’s (via Brian Dohn) Scouting Report

Hawkins is one of the top receivers in the East’s 2016 class because of his combination of size, acceleration off the of scrimmage, his ball-tracking skills and his ability to use his body to shield defenders. He is physical and catches the ball at its highest point. He goes over the middle and can out leap defenders to make catches, and he is tough to bring down after the catch. If his speed improves, he will be the total package.

Highlights

Evans

MGoFish (via @INFootballScout) Scouting Report

Strengths: Home-run threat. Outstanding vision, change-of-direction, and breakaway speed. Is very elusive and shifty in space, consistently makes defenders miss. Consistently finishes forward and runs through contact. Can turn upfield and change direction on a dime, and exhibits decisiveness to the hole – wastes no time getting vertical. Has burst at the second level and top-end speed when he finds a crease.  Has loose hips and a strong frame with room to get bigger. Has proven himself as a receiver, exhibiting soft hands, selling his routes, and is dangerous after-the-catch. High impact player – is very versatile; aligns in the slot, has taken direct snaps from QB, serves as a kickoff returner (rarely kicked to) and has also played at DB. Highly productive and dynamic playmaker for the defending state champion Giants and should excel in the Big 10.

Weaknesses: Few and far between in HS; plays behind a good offensive line with easy running lanes at times; sometimes runs upright and gets pushed back in short yardage; could switch ball to his opposite arm when running down the sideline.

Summary: Chris has a very high ceiling; he is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. He is a versatile playmaker with great vision, breakaway speed, and elusiveness in the open field to excel at Michigan.

Scout.com’s (via Allen Trieu) Scouting Report

All-purpose back who could easily be a slot in college. Excellent hands and pass-catching ability. Very comfortable running routes. A smooth kid who glides through traffic. Has good, maybe not elite speed and can make cuts and moves while going full speed. He’s elusive and does a great job of finding running lanes. Not necessarily built like a tailback and can still add more bulk to his frame.

Highlights

Michigan’s 2016 Depth Chart Prediction

Wide Receiver X

  1. #82 Amara Darboh, 5th
  2. #85 Moe Ways, JR*
  3. #2 Ahmir Mitchell, FR
  4. #83 Jaron Dukes, SR*
  5. Brad Hawkins, FR

Wide Receiver Z

  1. #86 Jehu Chesson, 5th
  2. #14 Drake Harris, JR* 
  3. Dylan Crawford, FR
  4. Eddie McDoom, FR
  5. #10 DaMario Jones, SR
  6. Nate Johnson, FR

Slot Receiver

  1. #9 Grant Perry, SO
  2. Nate Johnson, FR
  3. Dylan Crawford, FR
  4. Chris Evans, FR

Freshmen Year Expectations

Thanks to Michigan only having 3-5 legit receiving options, each incoming receiver will have the chance to see the field during their true freshmen season. Though some will have to hit the weight room and cafeteria to really contribute, Harbaugh has shown in his early time at UM that he’s not afraid to play an undersized receiver right away (Grant Perry).

  • That being said, I believe Crawford, McDoom and Johnson could see a good amount of snaps during their freshmen year thanks to the need of dynamic, slot-type receivers, though they’ll have to show out to receive targets.
  • Mitchell is a toss up as he could see the field quicker as a safety but could stay the course and continue to develop as a receiver. Either way, if he sees the field for more than end of game snaps during his freshmen year, I believe it’ll be on special teams.
  • As for Hawkins and Evans, they could both see the field but at this point I believe they’re likely to redshirt unless they can become playmakers in the return game. Evans could also see time as a slotback, if the staff sees him as the best option.

What are your freshpectations for Michigan’s incoming receiver recruits? Add your thoughts below in the comment section! 

Photo Credit: Sharon Stabley/Press of Atlantic City