ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Another one of Jim Harbaugh’s projections came to fruition Saturday: double digits in the NFL draft.
Michigan’s coach said on his weekly radio show six months ago that he anticipated a high number of his players would be selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“I don’t know how many guys will get drafted, but it’ll be double digits,” Harbaugh said in October.
As his team frolicked overseas last week, Harbaugh set the bar a little higher and asked for divine intervention.
“We understand 14 is the record,” Harbaugh told reporters in Rome. “We are saying our prayers that we are going to break that record.”
A trip to the Vatican wasn’t enough to answer Harbaugh’s prayers. But it’s safe to say Michigan did OK in this year’s NFL draft.
More than OK. As the Wolverines’ football trip to Italy wound down, 11 former Michigan players started their professional football careers as NFL draft picks. (Alabama had 10 and Miami 9.) Michigan’s 2017 contingent joins an already lengthy list of Michigan players who have been drafted, but 11 players in one year class is a program record.
|Draft pick||Player||Position||NFL team|
|No. 25||Jabrill Peppers||S/LB||Cleveland Browns|
|No. 28||Taco Charlton||DE||Dallas Cowboys|
|No. 74||Chris Wormley||DL||Baltimore Ravens|
|No. 92||Jourdan Lewis||CB||Dallas Cowboys|
|No. 95||Delano Hill||S||Seattle Seahawks|
|No. 106||Amara Darboh||WR||Seattle Seahawks|
|No. 120||Ben Gedeon||LB||Minnesota Vikings|
|No. 138||Ryan Glasgow||DT||Cincinnati Bengals|
|No. 139||Jehu Chesson||WR||Kansas City Chiefs|
|No. 145||Jake Butt||TE||Denver Broncos|
|No. 197||Jeremy Clark||CB||New York Jets|
By comparison, Michigan had three players drafted in 2016.
Michigan had 10 players drafted in 1972 and 1974. (Michigan had nine drafted in 1975, and seven in 1976, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1991, 2007 and 2008.)
Additionally, seven players signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents.
|Kenny Allen||P||Baltimore Ravens|
|Matt Godin||DL||Houston Texans|
|Kyle Kalis||OL||Washington Redskins|
|Erik Magnuson||OL||San Francisco 49ers|
|De’Veon Smith||RB||Miami Dolphins|
|Channing Stribling||CB||Cleveland Browns|
|Dymonte Thomas||S||Denver Broncos|
It’s a reflection of the ability of Harbaugh and his staff to develop players into professionals — all 11 of this year’s draft picks from Michigan were recruited by Brady Hoke. During Hoke’s coaching tenure, the Wolverines had no more than three players taken in a single draft, and had only one first-round selection.
In about 2 1/2 years at Michigan, Harbaugh has coached 14 NFL draftees.
That’s not necessarily an indictment of Hoke. Eleven players were drafted by NFL teams during Hoke’s four-year run as head coach, including current pros Taylor Lewan (Tennessee Titans), Denard Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Jake Ryan (Green Bay Packers), Michael Schofield (Denver Broncos) and Devin Funchess (Carolina Panthers).
But 11 from one school in one draft class? Fourteen players from Ohio State went to NFL teams in the 2004 draft.
NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter pegged Michigan as having the most talent in this year’s draft class.
“These players were already in Ann Arbor when Jim Harbaugh arrived, and it’s likely that they met their potential under the current coaching staff’s tutelage,” Reuter wrote.
The question now becomes: How will each player going to an NFL team develop?
The first draftees coached by Harbaugh are preparing for their second seasons in the NFL. That second group of draftees from Harbaugh’s tutelage will serve as further evidence of the program’s strength. NFL rookie minicamps begin this week.
“To see guys be successful so far, that’s not a fluke,” Chesson said at Michigan’s pro day last month. “Those guys prepared their butts off.
“That’s a huge positive of having these coaches (at Michigan). They know what the expectation is and it doesn’t hurt to get humbled by them before you go.”