this may be of some local interest
Edit: Oh, right, it's Tuesday.
Herbert Announcing Tomorrow
Michigan is in prime position to pick up another offensive lineman when four-star FL OT Kai-Leon Herbert announces his decision sometime tomorrow between the Wolverines, Florida, and Miami (YTM). Michigan got his most recent visit and has the last nine picks on his Crystal Ball, including that of 247 scouting director Steve Wiltfong. When previewing his decision for 247's Luke Stampini, Herbert may have tipped his hand in what's been considered a Michigan/Florida battle with Miami on the periphery [emphasis mine]:
“It’s the relationship I have with Coach [Mike] Summers, Coach [Randy] Shannon, and Coach [Jim McElwain] himself,” Herbert said of Florida. “They were my leader for quite some time and they definitely know how to recruit.
Herbert would be an impressive pull from a powerhouse program (American Heritage), and a commitment from him could also help Michigan land five-star OG teammate TJ Slaton, whose recruitment may become a Michigan/Clemson battle.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CBLavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon, TE Devin Asiasi, WR Eddie McDoom, WR Nate Johnson.
|Rancho Santa Margarita, CA – 6'2", 185|
|Scout||4*, #134 overall
|Rivals||4*, #129 overall
#26 WR, #20 CA
|ESPN||4*, #179 overall
#22 WR, #20 CA
|24/7||4*, #135 overall
#20 WR, #15 CA
|Other Suitors||UO, USC, ND, OU, Stanford, ASU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Army AA. Nee Dylan Crawford.|
Senior (starts at 1:00):
Way back in the long-long ago when Brady Hoke was still around, Michigan fans with an obsessive recruiting bent were hoping that Michigan would land a quartet of California stars: KJ Costello, Theo Howard, David Long, and Dylan Crawford. By the standards of recruiting expectations more than a year out from Signing Day, this actually turned out pretty well: Michigan locked down the latter two. Getting there was pretty hairy, with Long committing to Stanford early and Crawford looking like he'd head to Oregon for a couple weeks after the Ducks finally offered.
But before Crawford could pull the trigger on that Duck offer, though, a guy named Eddie McDoom did. Crawford committed to Michigan shortly afterwards; now Michigan has both. Jedd Fisch probably spent most of February with tented fingers, laughing ominously in his underground compound.
Crawford isn't a whole lot different than Johnson and McDoom. Most evaluations cite an advanced understanding of routes, excellent athleticism without crazy top-end speed, and technical adeptness. The term "polished" is frequently deployed. In October Michigan was apparently selling him on their lack of depth at slot receiver, which both McDoom and Johnson are also candidates to play. All three are also candidates on the outside.
Crawford has a few inches on his compatriots and is the most likely to be a full-time outside guy; all three can move inside or out depending on Michigan's need on any particular down. ESPN:
…very competitive speed and slippery elusiveness… very shifty with wiggle and fluid change-of-direction to use at the top of stems into and out of breaks. … can get on the toes of defenders quickly to eat up cushion … knows how to use his feet, hips and burst to gain separation. …very adept at tracking the deep ball over the shoulder …reasonably wide catch radius …can make people miss, … may not just run by people [in college] like he routinely does at this level. … athletic and precise and has a good feel for the game.
…electric in and out of breaks. …quickness to separate …brings a lot to the table after the catch as an elusive player with good moves. …aggressive mentality as a blocker. He really takes pride in picking up a block… great toughness. … Kenny Stills type
…strong route runner where he cuts extraordinarily well and he does a great job setting up cornerbacks. The four-star is also exceptional at catching low passes by getting his hands under the ball and scooping it. Sometimes, he lets the ball get into his body, but most of the time Crawford rips it out of the air.
…does everything well. …solid frame and is much stronger than he looks. …nice burst, is a polished route runner and has good top end speed. … 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.
…very good speed and flashes some extra burst at times that a lot of other players don’t have. … plays really hard. … good hands and shows good body control on sideline catches. I would like to see him be more of a player that attacks the ball at its highest point … very good potential as a route runner and does a good job of selling double moves. Because he’s a better athlete than many of the players covering him, he sometimes will rely on just running by them and not running the crispest routes.
…a good route-runner with outstanding hands… good short-area quickness …isn't a deep burner… his football savvy, vision, and quickness allow him to make big plays anyway.
…does a good job of bursting off the line of scrimmage….can shake defenders in space. … deft route runner who does a good job of using head movement and jab steps to set up defensive backs. … shows the ability to work across the middle of the field without being affected by impending contact. … does not have many obvious weaknesses in his game.
While last bit is a theme repeated by a few different evaluations, there are some negative reports.
A couple of grumbles about his hands seem to be based on a bad camp or day of practice; more complete evaluations are generally positive. There are a more durable concerns. He didn't blow people away at the Army game. This Rivals evaluation from the game is skeptical about Crawford's ability to be a deep threat:
247 moved him out of their top 100 because he "never really asserted himself" in 7-on-7 and in a separate section actually intended to praise him they noted that he was just "going through the motions" on the first two days of practice. Scout also noted he "wasn't active" in the morning of day one, though they said he did well in the afternoon section. Touch The Banner also notes that Crawford wasn't the most productive receiver on his team; 2017 Oklahoma commit Grant Calcaterra, who Michigan took a poke at early in the cycle, beat him out.
Like Johnson, Crawford's combine testing numbers are pretty righteous. He was one of the top performers at the Opening:
Dylan Crawford was one of 10 participants out of the 166 who tested to qualify for NIKE Football Rating Championship. At 6-1.5, 183 pounds, the athlete clocked a 4.45-40, 4.01 in the shuttle, jumped 37” in the vertical and threw the power ball 42’.
Crawford was just out of a walking boot and ran for the first time in a month when he put that on the board. FWIW, 247 had completely different numbers—worse 40, worse shuttle, better vertical and power ball—but either way, dude was one of the most athletic guys at a gathering of the top recruits in the country. He came in second in combine testing at a loaded Opening regional in Los Angeles as well; he'd win the WR MVP award after bringing in "numerous" deep balls that displayed "his ability to stretch the field." How this jibes with the consistent "he's fast but he's not that fast" above is unknown.
That 6'1.5" is also a positive. It's a rare recruit who ends up listed smaller than he actually is by the recruiting sites. Crawford is one of them. He grew a couple inches after he popped up on everyone's radar.
Crawford's ability as a blocker jumps out on tape. There was a brief mention above; it was echoed in more depth by other analysts. Son Of A Coach:
One of the most tenacious run blockers I’ve seen out of a someone considered a blue chip receiver prospect. He gets after it better than a lot of tight end recruits.
Crawford displays some aggression toward defensive backs in the running game, and he can be a very effective blocker on the edge with crack blocks and stalk blocks.
Rivals took in one of his high school games—which is a rare opportunity to focus on guys when they don't get the ball—and came away similarly impressed:
…not only willing to block, but also fiery when it came to the task. He said afterward he realizes receivers have to be well rounded at the next level and he has worked hard at making his presence felt even when the ball isn't in the air.
Our YMRMFSPA has proven that you don't have to be a huge guy to wreck tight ends, and you know that Harbaugh is going to prioritize guys who block with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. This section also mitigates concerns you might have after those indifferent Army game reports that Crawford doesn't get after it. Crawford might not have put a huge priority on a slightly ridiculous All Star game; when he's put in an actual game he seeks to dominate his opposition.
Etc.: Per Jedd Fisch, Crawford will go by his middle name at M. MGoBlue is still a little confused about this. Will wear #1. This scouting report from a guy covering the Army game is too ridiculous to put in the body of the post but also too ridiculous to ignore:
“As spicy as they come at the wide receiver position,” Herron said. “A guy who’s not one of these Calvin Johnson-types, he’s not, 230-40 pounds. He’s just over 6-foot, 180 but plays as though he’s the size of Megatron.”
Why Jehu Chesson? Chesson arrived as a wiry track star in need of a lot of polish who lacked recruiting hype. This isn't particularly close to Crawford, but the receiver Chesson turned into—a 6'3", 200-pound outside receiver and defensive back abattoir with the ability to stretch a ten yard pass into 30—is. Chesson has an inch or two on Crawford; Crawford arrives at Michigan much closer to his eventual ceiling.
Less recent comparables include Marcus Knight and Tai Streets, both lanky outside receivers with solid deep speed and reliable hands.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Lock-step rankings, Army game appearance, heavily scouted high school. Some wobble in the scouting reports but not much really.
Variance: Low. A polished kid with a good frame and excellent off-field stuff.
Ceiling: High-minus. Doesn't appear to be Braylon but could be a solid #1 WR in college if he works out. I do give the sites' (slight) skepticism in this department credence since they saw him a lot and there seems to be broad agreement on this point.
General Excitement Level: High. Johnson/McDoom part III. Less likely to bust than either of those guys because of his size. Still like McDoom a bit better but it's splitting hairs.
Projection: Probably plays on the outside. Probably does not redshirt since Michigan needs to find two new outside receivers next year and there's enough uncertainty about Ways and Harris—more or less the only options with any experience—to play both Crawford and McDoom. I'd prefer at least one of the three WRs already profiled gets a redshirt, but it's hard to pick out who that might be.
Crawford will have a real shot at starting as early as next year; if his blocking translates to college that'll give him a leg up. At the very least he should be rotation piece. Things might get complicated in 2018 if Michigan does lock down Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins, either or both of whom could be the kind of talent who pushes through returning starters after an apprentice year. Crawford's ability to pop into the slot gives him the flexibility to stay on the field; it's likely that one of these slot/outside types does get pushed out of playing time. No idea who.
The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."
Previously on Draftageddon:
Peppers and Lewis are taken before the one good quarterback and our tight end goes 5th overall.
Chesson, Cole and Wormley go in Round 3, Glasgow ends Round 4.
How things stand:
Seven Michigan players have gone in the first 17 picks. Now it's time to see who's good on the other teams, right?
(Ace's Round 5 pick was part of last week's)
ADAM: Round 5, Pick 2: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Offense: Pat Elflein (C/OG-OSU), Dan Feeney (OG-Indiana)
Defense: Jourdan Lewis (CB-Michigan), Dawuane Smoot (DE-Illinois), Taco Charlton (DE-Michigan)
Yeah, I took Smoot before Charlton, but there's no defensive end in the conference whose upside I'm more excited about than Charlton's. At 6'6 and 287 pounds he's big enough to play strongside end, but his insane athleticism allows him to play just as (if not more) effectively at weakside end.
He'll likely get the majority of his snaps at weakside end this fall, a position he didn't start at until last season's Penn State game. Despite that, Charlton racked up 5.5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs in 2015. He took the opportunity presented against PSU and promptly destroyed Christian Hackenberg, displaying his power on a stunt inside in which he bull-rushed his way through a guard:
And later flashing some of his pass-rush moves when he swam past the left tackle:
PFF says his 41 total pressures ranked sixth among defensive ends; imagine what he can do with a full season at WDE, another year under the tutelage of Greg Mattison, and the added benefit of Don Brown's insane slants and stunts.
[Hit the JUMP]
Meet Raul Wallenberg, who did more with his Michigan degree than, well, anyone:
Wallenberg developed a system of Swedish safe-houses, and eventually worked to create a separate international ghetto for Jews under protection from Sweden and other neutral powers. He created a rescue team that worked to protect those under Swedish protection--in some instances, they would impersonate Nazi officials in order to demand Jews from death marches, and then return them to Budapest. For his actions, Wallenberg was a target of multiple assassination attempts.
Then he disappeard, but man that guy had some chutzpah. In Michigan guys who didn't save thousands of lives, ReadYourGuard, who played some football at Michigan himself, has started interviewing former players. His first is Clay Miller. His story includes Bo's first use of the goal line formation. It is very much worth a read.
The annual betting prospectus. Tim Tolman from The Saturday Edge puts out a free betting prospectus every year for the Big Ten. Again, I like to read the gamblers' takes because they're forced to be more realistic. On the other hand:
My biggest gripe is he expects Rashan Gary to replace Willie Henry at 3-tech; if Gary starts it's because Wormley is at 3-tech and Gary is at SDE. One man's guess at how the DL will shake out on competitive snaps:
|Anchor (SDE)||Tackle (3-tech)||Nose||End (WDE)|
|Gary (40%)||Wormley (40%)||Glasgow (53%)||Charlton (75%)|
|Wormley (45%)||Hurst (40%)||Mone (45%)||Winovich (20%)|
That has Wormley and Taco on the field most of the time, Glasgow and Mone rotating to stay fresh (Hurst is the NT only when they go Bear), Hurst getting a lot of play at DT, and Gary on the field about half the time, but all over the line. It'll probably change up from game to game as Don Brown decides which dude is best suited for his particular matchup.
Anyway Tim doesn't even say the name Hurst, even though Matt Godin and Brady Pallante(!) come in for mentions. If Pallante plays non-garbage time this year there would have to be a plume of green smoke where the DT two-deep once stood.
Part time blogger. Our mods don't get the appreciation they deserve. Sometimes it shows. Hit play at the bottom, skip the first 30 seconds, and sing along:
You are struggling to defend your dumb notion
It’s half-cocked, riddled with emotion
When the words don’t come you turn it all around
Throw out a “f---”, then run the ship aground
It's actually good.
First year QB: A problem? User unWavering wrote a diary that starts by showing you every national champion or runner up QB since 2000 and that half were first-time starters. If you extend that to the start of the BCS era you get Vick, junior Weinke, the guy who replaced Peyton Manning, and Marcus Outzen (Weinke was injured). None of them were coached by Jim Harbaugh. Quarterback will be fine; injuries to the offensive line, bad linebacker play, safeties regressing, and games when O'Neill's crew are officiating are my biggest concerns.
From Johnny Orr to Beilein. The helpful thread title is Michigan has now produced more 1st round NBA Draft picks than any other program in the B1G. Indiana has more first and second rounders historically but Beilein's national championship game roster alone had four first-rounders on it plus a second-rounder.
How can I help?
Seriously. And feel free to pass that along.
[After the jump: a good reason to thank the troops, a draw-a-Woliverine competition, and an important update on Michigan's QB battle.]
[No not really but you'll want to see it anyway.]
Davison Offered, Nearing Decision
Three-star 2017 MN combo guard Brad Davison had a strong spring on the EYBL circuit and subsequently added a handful of major offers to his list. His recent visit tour included a stop in Ann Arbor, where he picked up a Michigan offer, and he told The Wolverine's Chris Balas that they'll be in the mix when he makes a decision:
“First off, spending time with Coach Beilein was pretty special … that was because he’s one of the best at what he does,” he said. “That was a cool experience. We toured the facilities, and I want to go into business so went to business academic advisors, met with the players, toured the campus. The players were great. I hung out with Duncan [Robinson] and Mo [Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman], so that was fun.
“The best part was probably just hanging out with the players. Those are the guys you’re going to be with if you go there.”
Davison expects to make his choice this month. Wisconsin, one of the first programs to recruit him, is considered by many to be the team to beat, and Stanford is also heavily involved. Michigan shouldn't be ruled out, however—after their offer, 247's director of basketball scouting, Jerry Meyer, put in a Crystal Ball pick for the Wolverines.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Scott Matzka has a very bad disease. Former Michigan hockey player Scott Matzka, who was a short-handed goal waiting to happen and took EECS 380 at the same time I did, has ALS. Please visit his site and help out if you can.
A Michigan Man does not jackknife powerbomb Kevin Nash.
— Henry Poggi (@The_Hank_Poggi) July 1, 2016
Apparent attrition. Brad Hawkins has not enrolled:
Hawkins' high school coach at Camden, Dwayne Savage, confirmed that Hawkins is not in school yet as he's still awaiting clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse -- now known as the NCAA Eligibility Center. Savage said that Hawkins still plans on playing football at Michigan this season and hopes to have his clearance at some point toward the middle of July.
"He's not in school yet," Savage said. "I believe it's a Clearinghouse situation. Right now everything's still a go for Michigan. He just has to get everything cleared before he can step on campus."
This doesn't happen often with Michigan recruits so I don't have a feel for how likely it is that things get resolved by fall. Sam Webb is saying he doesn't have high hopes Hawkins will enroll this fall. Michigan might pick him back up after a prep semester.
If you've read the recent recruiting profiles, you know that in my opinion this is more of an issue for the safety depth chart than receiver because I really like the two sleeper-ish guys they took and have yet to get to Dylan Crawford.
Speaking of those sleeper-ish guys. PSU, OSU, and MSU are all using a ton of cover four, so this Ian Boyd article on the route slot receivers have to get down to bust these Ds is of considerable relevance:
For teams with QBs that have enough arm, against cover 4 defenses that like to bracket the single side receiver, this is a really popular way to attack the field safety:
Defenses that either want to bracket the single-side receiver in cover 2 or else drop the boundary safety down to stuff the run love to play this coverage against trips formations. The outside corner is in straight man coverage on the "X" receiver while the space-backer (S), middle linebacker (M), and field safety (F) are playing zone over the two slot receivers.
This is variously called "flag" or "seven" or a "corner" route. I go with the latter in UFR, FWIW.
Impact on the game
Perhaps the biggest response to cover 4 that has come into vogue around the game is the use of vertical routes from the slot receiver with which to attack the safeties. There are other good route combinations for attacking cover 4 that don't include seven routes but they all generally involve sending a slot receiver down the field to either attack the safety or occupy him so the offense can isolate a corner.
Teams that don't have receivers they can use in the slot to attack safeties down the field are at a major disadvantage in stopping cover 4 teams from successfully bringing numbers to stop both their outside receivers AND their running backs.
Perhaps the biggest winner in all of this is the "undersized" outside receiver who's excellent in running a variety of routes from different areas on the field. Three of the top four receivers in Big 12 play in 2015 (statistically) were Sterling Shepard (5'10" 195), Corey Coleman (5'11" 185), and Jakeem Grant (5'7" 168). Each of them were wildly effective in part because of the seven route and the way that opening up space outside allows smaller receivers to move inside and still have opportunities to run vertical routes.
Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, and Dylan Crawford are all this guy. (Crawford's not undersized but he's not huge either.) Michigan appears to have recruited this year's class with a major emphasis on winning vertical matchups from the slot.
This can't be rational. Kenpom puts together a graph of playing time for starters depending on how many fouls they have and comes back with a very Beilein approach:
Two fouls: The player with two fouls has his minutes severely restricted for the entirety of the first half. There is some leniency given with 4-6 minutes until halftime, but there is very little opportunity for the player with two fouls to see the floor in the first half. There is odd unanimity among coaches that a player with two fouls should be protected with 20:01 remaining and should not be protected with 20:00 left in the game. If you are of the mindset that coaches are too aggressive benching guys with two fouls, this is a good piece of evidence that a herd mentality exists.
I am of that mindset and even more of that mindset when it comes to John Beilein teams, which have historically been top ten in foul avoidance. I have zero hope that Beilein will suddenly change his behavior in this department, so let's at least hope that Billy Donlon makes the defense way more handsy so that first-half autobench is at least somewhat more justified.
Large men: present. Michigan's basketball roster just got a lot more beef on it. One, Mo Wagner is no longer a chopstick:
My man Moe Wagner came in at 6'11" 211lbs this time last year. #238.6lbs pic.twitter.com/9hEL6mma05
— Jon Sanderson (@CampSanderson) June 29, 2016
Two, both Jon Teske and Austin Davis are listed at 240+ on Michigan's just-released roster. Both are physically viable this year. This will be a nice change from last year, when Wagner couldn't get off the bench for big chunks of the season and Mark Donnal was the default.
More persons of NFL interest. A couple of "interior linemen" make another one of those NFL.com top tens. Scare quotes because:
3. Taco Charlton, Michigan
There might not be much mention of Charlton in the preseason considering he has started just four games headed into his senior season, but film doesn't lie, and NFL scouts have Charlton pegged squarely on their radar. At 6-6, 285 with long arms and a muscular build, Charlton has the perfect frame to play as a 3-4 defensive end. However, he could also serve as a 4-3 base end with the ability to bump inside on rushing downs in the NFL. Charlton had 33 pressures and 5.5 sacks despite playing just 43 percent of the Wolverines' defense snaps and those numbers are getting ready to make another jump. Charlton has freaky athletic traits and functional power to go with them.
This 285 pound dude is likely Michigan's starting weakside end, because the rest of the line is two-deep with very good veterans or Rashan Gary. Anyway, this is what I am talking about when I mention Charlton as a big breakout candidate. His production in limited time last year was really good. Michigan's depth means he might jump from the rotation guy with the least playing time to the one with the most. With Lawrence Marshall moving to the strongside, Chase Winovich is the main and only competition at WDE.
Wormley also made the list a few spots lower:
6. Chris Wormley, Michigan
Wormley Has the frame and athleticism to be considered as either an interior lineman or defensive end in a 4-3 or at defensive end for an odd front. Wormley is powerful and can plow through the edges of blockers. While some rushers are content to try and whip the man in front of them, Wormley is able to dart left and right to create doubt and uncertainty for blockers. He combines his strength and foot quickness to generate a pass rush that is very translatable on the next level. Wormley is generating a good deal of buzz in the scouting community and that buzz will get much louder this year.
Wormley is apparently headed for three-tech this year if things go to plan. Gary will have to obliterate the TEs.
Recruiting is important, part infinity. PFF released a list of the top 101 players in college football that we mentioned in this space because it has five different Michigan defenders on it. Some dude on 247 ran it through some statistical analysis. Results:
Minimum: 1 ~ 1.000
First Quartile: 31.5 ~ 98.40
Median: 238 ~ 90.90
Third Quartile: 1000 ~ 84.19
Over 25% of players listed in PPFs player rankings were rated as 5* players coming out of high school by the composite. Over 50% were rated as 4* players. While recruiting rankings aren't perfect they are a strong correlate of future success.
Five star players are approximately 1-3% of the pool and four-stars about 10%. This is in line with findings about the NFL draft; applying this analysis to PFF's rankings of college players based on their performance right now is even stronger evidence that recruiting rankings matter.