‘Dude’s about to be elite.’ NFL draft hopefuls predict Michigan football’s next standout player

INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL Scouting Combine is typically known as a place for outgoing Michigan players to look forward.

After all, they have their careers ahead of them and many are eager to find out where they stand on the NFL pecking order. The next couple of months are going to help determine that.

But what’s an interview without asking them about Michigan football in 2022? The Wolverines are set to return several key pieces on both sides of the ball, and some younger players with plenty of upside.

Safety Rod Moore is a name that came up with outgoing cornerback Vincent Gray, who impressed teams in the station drill over the weekend in Indianapolis. While the two didn’t exactly play the same position, Gray praised Moore – who started four games as a true freshman in 2021 – for his on-field aggression di lui.

“He won’t be draft-eligible next year, but I think he’ll make a great impact in the secondary,” Gray said. “He’s a buck-70 (weight), but he’s not scared to throw his stuff in there. He’s got good technique, good speed, and I think he’ll be a really good player for Michigan. “

Sticking with the defensive side, all eyes this offseason are on the edge-rushing position and how Michigan plans to replace Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, both projected first-round NFL draft picks. There are players on the roster, but no preseason All-American candidates. Which means Jim Harbaugh and his staff di lui have some work to do.

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But linebacker Josh Ross has his eye on one player in particular: “Mike Morris. Just his athleticism of him. He’s going to be a guy behind the Aidan Hutchinson spot, the edge spot, ”Ross said. “That’s a very, very athletic, big body on that edge that can really move and set it. He’s dynamic on the edge. “

Ross went on to call the 6-foot-6, 278-pound Morris, who will be a redshirt junior this season, “ridiculous.”

“People don’t even know it yet, because of who he played behind and him still learning the ropes and getting better,” Ross added. “He got a lot better from two years ago to last year. That dude’s about to be elite. People are going to know his name of him real soon. “

Meanwhile, outgoing defensive tackle Christopher Hinton expects Mazi Smiththe other starter alongside him up front in 2021, to hold down the fort his fall – but he has his eye on two others to help fill the vacant tackle spot.

Kris Jenkins is also a great football player – and I feel like he’s really going to flourish this year, ”Hinton said. “And Rayshaun Benny – that’s a big one. That kid owns a lot of special talent. “

Benny, a 6-foot-5, 292-pound tackle from Detroit, only appeared in three games during his freshman season. But he’s a former four-star recruit with plenty of upside that Hinton believes he is going to show this fall.

“Rayshaun has some intangible skills that you can’t teach. He’s a monster, he’s a dog. I have high expectations for Rayshaun, ”Hinton said. “I have a lot of confidence that he will fulfill the expectations. Great player, great kid – and I like to see what he’s going to do in the future. “

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Meanwhile, on the offensive side, three names in particular came up among the (small) group of Michigan players in Indy.

Up front, outgoing tackle Andrew Stueber likes what Karsen Barnhart brings to the table along the line. While the jury is still out where Barnhart will end up this fall (tackle? Guard? He’s started at both), Stueber believes Barnhart is going to make an impact somewhere.

“I know he’s been competing a lot. I’m really excited to see how he looks, ”Stueber said. “Greg Crippen is going to be a great player as well. Obviously he needs to come along as a freshman. I think those players will be really good. “

When it comes to the Michigan offense in 2021, at least early on, the focus is going to be centered on the running back position. The Wolverines lead on their ball carriers to great success last year, and that depth paid off when Blake Corum was slowed with an ankle injury. But Hassan Haskins has departed, opening the door for sophomore Donovan Edwards to earn more playing time.

“They can go far. Them two guys special, I’m not going to lie, ”Haskins said. “I just can’t wait to watch them this year. They going to have some hella games in front of them. “

Added Ross, the linebacker: “Just the speed that (Edwards) has and his willingness to get better, how hard he works, the sky is the limit for him,” he said. “You already know about Blake and what he is, and what he can do. If that dude didn’t tweak his ankle toward the end of the season it would have been even more of what he was doing. Our offense going to be ridiculous. “

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