The NFL preseason is officially underway, and with mandatory roster cuts (down to 75) set for August 26th, now is a good time to check in with the former Wolverines currently playing in the league. After scouring the interwebs, here's my best guess at where each Michigan representative stands as we near the start of the season.
Locks To Make It
Jason Avant, WR, Carolina. After being relegated to decoy duty in Chip Kelly's offense for Philadelphia in 2013, Avant—who boasts the lowest drop percentage in the NFL over the last three years—should be one of Cam Newton's top targets with his move to the Panthers.
Tom Brady, QB, New England. Brady threw for over 4,300 yards with 25 touchdowns last season while working with a very raw receiving corps. It was universally considered a down year. I think he's gonna make it, y'all.
Alan Branch, DE, Buffalo. Branch was an integral member of the D-line rotation for the Bills last season, recording 39 tackles, and he should reprise that role working behind up-and-coming star Marcell Dareus again this year.
Stevie Brown, FS, New York Giants. After finishing second in the NFL with eight interceptions in 2012, Brown missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL. He's back from the injury and expected to start at free safety.
Larry Foote, ILB, Arizona. The longtime Steeler—Foote has played 11 of his 12 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh—was cut in the offseason, but quickly found a home in Arizona, which lost both of their starting ILBs from last season. He's currently atop the depth chart, and even if he doesn't hold that spot, he should stick around to provide veteran leadership for a young position group.
Jonathan Goodwin, C/G, New Orleans. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Goodwin and Tim Lelito, the two players competing to start at center, are "certain to make the final roster." Goodwin's ability to play both center and guard gives him extra job security, even at 35 years old, as does his relatively cheap one-year deal.
Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati. While Hall tore his right Achilles tendon last season, just two seasons removed from tearing his left Achilles, he's back in the starting lineup as Cinci's slot corner, a spot he plays about as well as anybody in the league when healthy. Barring further injury, his spot is very much safe.
David Harris, ILB, New York Jets. Jets head coach Rex Ryan called Harris "the most underrated player in the league" after he was left of the NFL Network's top 100 players list for 2014. Yeah, he's safe.
Junior Hemingway, WR, Kansas City. Even though Hemingway missed a good deal of training camp with a hamstring injury, he came right back and was a prime target for QB Alex Smith out of the slot. This very thorough rundown of the Chiefs' roster situation has Hemingway safely on the team—in fact, he should start in the slot—and that doesn't look likely to change.
Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville. Though Jacksonville used the #3 overall pick on QB Blake Bortles, Henne started the first preseason game, and the Jaguars higher-ups insist there's no QB controversy. Bortles is the QB of the future; for now, however, this is Henne's job.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Tennessee. First-round picks don't get cut in their rookie seasons, especially when they're competing for starting jobs.
Jake Long, OT, St. Louis. Long is coming back from a torn ACL and MCL, so he's been held out so far in the preseason, but he's on track to make a surpringly quick return. Also, he's Jake Long, which should be enough.
Ryan Mundy, S, Chicago. Even though the Bears have shuffled their safeties around, Mundy has seen the most action on the first team of anyone, and he can play both free and strong safety in their system. He started the preseason strong, picking off a pass in the opener.
Michael Schofield, OG/OT, Denver. Third-round picks also don't get cut in their rookie season, except in very unusual circumstances. Considering Schofield is "in the mix" at both left guard and right tackle, it looks like he'll be a critical backup at the very least in Denver.
LaMarr Woodley, DE, Oakland. After seven productive years in Pittsburgh, Woodley was unceremoniously released by the Steelers over the offseason, and the Raiders were happy to get him. He provides a major upgrade from them at DE, a spot that may suit him better than 3-4 OLB, where he played in Pittsburgh.
Charles Woodson, S, Oakland. At 37, Woodson came back to Oakland, where he's beloved by the fanbase. He'll play safety there, and he is Charles Woodson, so he'll play well until he decides it's time to hang up the cleats.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the list.]
RIP. Condolences to the friends and family of the deceased Jim Schneider. Madej has a great story:
"I remember (we had a student assistant) doing a press release one year on women’s gymnastics, and he knew nothing about women’s gymnastics, so (he asked) how (should he) write the release,” said former Michigan media relations director Bruce Madej on Tuesday. “And Schneids says to him, very nicely, ‘Don’t worry about it, the people reading it will know less than you do.’"
Words to live by.
pretty sure the building is somewhere in this photo
Hey guys, I'm going to be in Chicago. If you're in town and like terrible terrible powerpoint slides, boy do I have an event for you.
2014 Michigan Football Season Preview with Brian Cook (MGoBlog) and Chris Balas (TheWolverine/Rivals.com)- NEW
When: Tuesday, July 29th, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Where: McGuireWoods LLP, 77 West Wacker Dr, Suite 4100, (map)
Cost: $20 for Alumni Association members; $30 for non-members. Pay at the door for $30 with Cash or Credit Card
Details: Join fellow alumni and several special guest speakers as we preview the 2014 Michigan Football season. During the evening, alums will be joined by Chris Balas from TheWolverine/Rivals.com, Brian Cook from MGoBlog.com and others to be confirmed. You'll get insights on the upcoming season and an opportunity to ask your questions. There will be appetizers and complimentary beer & wine available for those in attendance.
Walk-ups will be available for cash or credit card of $30 day of the event.
I realize that terrible terrible powerpoint slides are not a great and superior attraction, but in my defense they are snappy and brief. Also, complimentary beer and wine. Last year they flagged down Gerry DiNardo and they may also get a BTN Personality again this year.
Nick left, Mike right, please try not to think about how old you are vis a vis those guys, the answer is "old."
Hello, nurses. Hockey picked up a couple of massive commitments yesterday. As per hockey recruiting's wont, their commitment is the first time I'd ever heard of them. They're brothers separated by one year, both forwards. Nick Pastujov, the older, is (probably) class of 2016. He's committed to the NTDP program for next year after tearing it up with Belle Tire's U16 team, and was seriously high profile:
98 F Nick Pastujov commits to Michigan. Starred on Honeybaked U16, serious offensive talent with skill and a power game. Our #2 uncommitted.
— Over The Boards (@OTBPuckWatch) July 24, 2014
His younger brother Mike may be an even bigger prospect.
Despite the commitment, Michael will still be heavily considered for our top ranking on our preliminary #OHLDraft rankings, released Aug 5th
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) July 24, 2014
Michigan with their biggest commitments since Zach Werenski getting NTDP bound Nick Pastujov ('98) and brother Mike my top 1999 birth year.
— Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC) July 24, 2014
The usual OHL disclaimer applies. In this case, Nick's NTDP commitment and the obvious appeal of playing together will hopefully mean defection chances are low. Will be interesting to see if either tries to accelerate a la Werenski.
FWIW, Michigan's 2016 class is looking pretty badass right now with Pastujov, Luce, Sanchez, and a couple more potential NHL draft picks.
Meanwhile. Red on Werenski:
“The most difficult thing for younger players is the maturity level and social change going from high school to college, but Zach is mature beyond his years,” Berenson said. “He's like (former Michigan forward) Jason Botterill in that sense. I think he'll fit in really easily.”
I do not make fun of typos and errors, because we all make them. So I… I'm just going to… I'm just going to…
Cumong man. I know I called Geoff Cameron "Jeff" and Axel Witsel "Alex" during World Cup preview bits but that's a whole additional level there. For one, there are approximately 12 words in this entire image. For two, CUMONG MAN.
(Via mgouser MiGit)
Big Ten media day, circa the paleolithic. Lee Corso was a game show host, Hayden Fry spontaneously impregnated your mom, Bo was just chillin', thinking about your mortgage, Denny Green wasn't angry yet, and everyone else was quickly and gratefully forgotten by history:
Man that back row aside from Hayden is something.
Well, okay. Patrick Omameh is listed as a potential breakout player by ESPN. He's 25th on a list of 25, but that's not bad at all for a guy who went undrafted a year ago. Even if the article comes with one of those "are you sure you're talking about the right player" scouting reports:
Tampa Bay plucked him from there in mid-October, and while he never appeared in a game, the Bucs clearly had plans for him. He goes into training camp in the lead for the right guard position. The scouting reports on Omameh a year ago dinged him for sometimes being unable to finish blocks or move properly to the second level, but he's a consistent and powerful drive-blocker. His greatest attribute, however, is his intelligence. He was offered scholarships at MIT and Princeton before heading to Michigan, where he made academic All-Big Ten.
Um… what? Not to overrate one play or anything but the Te'obliteration is actually a pretty good representation of his career. Omameh was terrific when he was asked to move to the second level and not so good when a burly defensive tackle was put right over him:
Also I just like posting that.
If Patrick Omameh is a year two NFL starter that says something about something, there. Like maybe Michigan should have tried to keep doing the zone stuff they were good at.
NFL draft changes. The NFL is making an effort to tone down the number of underclassmen leaving college despite dubious prospects, at least according to one Nick Saban:
Now, teams can only submit five players for grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Last year, Saban said Alabama submitted 11 names.
Also, the NFL will give just three grades of feedback: first-round grade, second-round grade or a "stay-in-school grade." The NFL previously had five grades: first round, second round, third round, fourth through seventh and not draftable.
If the NFL approves extra draft grade requests you can get them, FWIW. John Infante keeps banging the MLS drum here and he's probably right: MLS hand-selects a number of players who sign "Generation Adidas" contracts and makes them available in the draft; anyone not explicitly approved has to go to college. Or overseas or whatever, but they're not available. If the NFL only wants underclassmen who will probably go in the first two rounds, just make that explicit. They'll have to negotiate that into a CBA but current players are always happy to negotiate away stuff from future ones.
Etc.: Tiny Basque club manages to raise enough money to play in La Liga. EA settlement wrangling. Say no to fall weddings. "Embracing debate" is tolerating all sorts of things you shouldn't. The NCAA is Marxist. Michigan participates in Make A Wish. Get The Picture demolishes things better than just about anybody.
IT ALSO EXISTS
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan did a lot of that stuff the Redskins did in Tecmo Bowl, lining up in one formation and then changing everyone around. There were some oddities.
This I called "near twins." You can see that Kerridge is the nominal tailback and Denard is aligned to his left.
In the NCAA football games that constitute the closest thing to a Unified Internet Football Lingo Database this might actually be "far." I don't remember. Someone tell me which it is and I'll fix it going forward.
This was "full house near," what with the two fullbacks and Denard:
And this is "I-Form offset tight":
Michigan also ran a few plays where Schofield and Lewan were on the left side of the line with the tight end playing right tackle:
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Gardner was at QB the whole way except for a few Denard QB plays, and often he was at WR when those happened. Denard was essentially the starting tailback; Smith came in and that was it at RB. Kerridge was full-time at FB.
The line was the usual save for one drive on which Lewan got knocked out; when that happened Schofield flipped to LT, Omameh slid over to RT, and Burzynski came in at RG.
WRs were the usual rotation heavy on Gallon and Roundtree with Dileo and Jackson filling in.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Gardner gets wobbly, Gallon owns people, Lewan vs Clowney verdict]
"I will wear it with pride."
To a man, the seniors of Team 133 thanked the University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit for the rings presented to them at last night's annual football bust. They may have been told to do so; the sincerity rang true, regardless.
To earn those rings, the seniors endured far more tumult than the average Wolverine class. A handful committed to Lloyd Carr's class of 2008, witnessing a coaching change before they ever set foot on campus. Every one made the jarring transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, who had the privilege of introducing each senior, charmingly butchering the more complicated majors—the sciences presented a particularly tricky articulative obstacle—and presenting their rings with the requisite bear hug.
Then came the stories, the laughter, and in one case, tears.
Ricky Barnum, heading to the School of Social Work next year after graduating with a degree in Afro-American and African Studies, implored the audience to "hit me up" if they ever need a grant or proposal written.
Will Campbell thanked the strength coaches for turning him "from a 346-pound slob to a 308-pound stud, as you can see."
Brady Hoke, before introducing fullback Paul Gyarmati, noted that Gyarmati's father played bass with Carlos Santana for several years. Gyarmati, off the cuff, thanked his father for "stealing my thunder."
While introducing Jack Kennedy, graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Physics, Hoke quipped, "it was tough, but I got him through."
Elliott Mealer, lumberjack beard intact, started his speech by saying, "I cleaned up for you tonight." He finished with a quote from his late father: "If you don't have good dreams, you have nightmares."
Patrick Omameh, Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Award winner for his academic accomplishments, sweat profusely during his improvised speech. "It's my trademark," he said, with no hint of shame.
Craig Roh thanked Jesus Christ for getting him through two-a-days and fall camp.
Roy Roundtree lit up while reliving his recruitment, recalling high school teammates Michael Shaw and Brandon Moore telling the then-Purdue commit that he might get a Michigan offer—"Man, I get that offer, I'm coming to Michigan," he said, noting how good he looked in a winged helmet.
Roundtree later broke down in tears while thanking Director of Academic Counseling Greg Harden, whom he credited for getting him through Michigan; his genuine thankfulness, even awe, at the prospect of going to grad school was heartwarming.
Floyd Simmons revealed that during games he liked to sit to J.T. Floyd's right on the bench, spelling out "Floyd" "Simmons" with their jersey nameplates, "but no one ever gets a picture of it."
Vincent Smith joked about chasing rabbits in Pahokee, and thanked the coaches for teaching him how to cut-block defensive ends—quite well, one might add.
Hoke called out Steve Wilson for getting into Michigan State's medical school. After mock boos from the crowd, Wilson noted that, yes, he got into State, but the only medical school he really wants to attend is Michigan.
Going last, of course, was Denard Robinson, who thanked virtually everyone associated with the program, including the academic staff that corralled the self-proclaimed "free spirit" and helped him become the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college. He also apologized to Al Borges—and his wife—for sending him home with so many headaches before closing, aptly, with "this is Michigan, fergodsakes."
The MVP of the bust, however, was also voted Bo Schembechler MVP by the team. Jordan Kovacs, a late arrival after attending the Burlsworth Award ceremony for nation's top former walk-on, brought down the house with his opener:
“I’d first like to thank coach Rich Rodriguez for allowing a slow, unathletic and undersized kid to play at the University of Michigan. That was really nice of him to let Drew Dileo play football here.”
Kovacs, who also won the Bob Ufer Spirit Award, finished by saying he was proud to call himself many things, walk-on included, but most of all to be a Michigan Man.
On this night, as the seniors had their football graduation of sorts—a few with more football ahead, many more on their way to becoming doctors, lawyers, social workers, or teachers—it was a fitting close from the captain. All have earned the right to wear their rings with pride.
Save these lockers. A few years ago Michigan redid the locker room. Where did the lockers go? Pretty much a warehouse:
We're a demolition company that does contract work for the university. A few years ago we got contracted for the locker room renovation and removed all the lockers. We were selling them for scrap metal and a UM fan almost killed us when he found out! We posted them on ebay and sold about 20 of them at $1000 each at that point.
We're getting busy (doing more UM jobs) and need to clear house on the remaining 20-30 lockers. They are full lockers, and we have working combinations for them as the university gave them to us to make taking them apart easier. We have a "letter of authenticity" which is a portion of our work contract signed by the athletic department asking us to remove them.
General numbers are going for $800-1000 and the big popular numbers for $1000-1500.
We run major shipments from here all the time and ship them in about 10 days anywhere in the USA via yellow trucking or UPS. We've been charging $200 to ship to a location with a loading dock and $250 to a residential address.
If you're interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Orson in Columbus. A must-read:
17. In summary: Ohio Stadium is brutal, gray, loud--yes, loud, by any standard--mean, cold, and constructed out of concrete bearing a few too many visible cracks for you to be totally comfortable seeing in a structure capable of holding over 100,000 people. (The ledge from the upper deck on the east and west sides had me hyperventilating.) There are grim bells, columns, and one jumbotron plastered onto the south endzone. The effect is that of a flatscreen slapped on the wall of a Roman gladiator's quarters, something very modern hanging on a wall bearing the scars of prehistoric combat.
18. Which, in cliche and reality, is totally what Michigan/ Ohio State is. I get that now after seeing it, because this is not about fun, glorious spite, or simple culture-clashes. Robots programmed this rivalry, and its only prime directives on either side is opposition. You may joke about other rivalries claiming to have been at war with Eastasia, but to either side, the war is eternal, and it is the other side that believes in obliteration of the self and will not stop chewing at the borders of the free nation of Oceania.
19. It feels old, and wears its own leather helmet while drinking scotch and staring at a gray sky. It had been a while since I'd been in the Midwest, and the thought initially filled me with a real and arbitrary sorrow. Driving through Columbus, there are all these lost things--cabbies that arrive on time, bland family restaurants with buffets and non-chain restaurant names, bells that ring in buildings ripped from a Wes Anderson movie's backlot--all these things that never existed where I'm from.
Um, okay guys. It's tough to tell which is the more bizarre thing when it comes to the coaches' half of the All Big Ten teams announced yesterday:
- Jake Ryan, honorable mention
- Patrick Omameh, first-team
In past years I've usually given the coaches' list more credence than the media, but putting Omameh on there is a pretty definitive indication that no coach has come within 50 feet of an All Big Ten ballot this year. They should rename it "SID's team," except then people would think of deceased infants and be sad.
Taylor Lewan and Will Hagerup made first teams and won their OL/P of the year awards. To maintain this blog's tradition of ignoring officially sanctioned Big Ten names for things I will tell you that these are the Long-Hutchinson and Zoltan-Zoltan awards, and feel slightly better about everything.
Craig Roh was second team to the SIDs and Ryan did scrape his way to second-team according to the media. Jordan Kovacs was second team to the coaches, but not the media. In his stead: Daimion Stafford!
definitely not discussing Stafford blowing a coverage so badly Bo Pelini had an aneurysm; definitely not something that has come up time and again
Micah Hyde! Johnny Adams! Josh Johnson!
/eyes roll so far back in head they explode
Positive spin! Michigan was third in total defense in the league, a mere four yards behind Wisconsin. Their haul of All-Big Ten players consists of some scattered second-team nods. Meanwhile Ohio State was seventh and had six different defenders lock down first team nods on either the coaches or media lists.
Imagine what might happen when Michigan has talented dudes. Pretty pretty good I bet.
GHOLSTONWATCH. Second team media. Four sacks on the year.
Salty. Collectively, Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett have bombed Hoke/Borges on twitter for the Denard/Devin thing and now they're all laying down the wood on the ABT choices:
That's not even the biggest stunner involving an Ohio State player. Buckeyes linebackerRyan Shazier did not make the first team, falling behind Michigan State's Max Bullough and Wisconsin's Chris Borland (Penn State's Michael Mauti is an understandable lock). There was talk of Shazier for Big Ten defensive player of the year after the way he blazed through the second half of the season. But that looks less likely now. (Unless the coaches want to engage in some serious trolling by naming Miller the offensive player of the year and Shazier defensive player of the year as second-teamers). Also bizarre: the coaches did not select Michigan's Jake Ryan for a first- or second-team spot. Ryan is undoubtedly one of the Big Ten's top four linebackers.
Quickly. One man's All Big Ten team, with the caveat that I didn't see much of Indiana or Penn State this year:
QB: Taylor Martinez, Nebraska (read too much of Ross Fulton pointing out Braxton Miller errors to give him the nod)
RB: LeVeon Bell, MSU (poor damn LeVeon Bell), Venric Mark, NW
WR: Allen Robinson, PSU, Kenny Bell, NU, Jared Abbrederis, UW
TE: CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa
DL: John Simon, Johnathan Hankins (OSU), Kawaan Short (PU), Eric Martin (NU)
LB: Jake Ryan (M), Max Bullough (MSU), Ryan Shazier (OSU)
DB: Jordan Kovacs(M), Isaiah Lewis(MSU), Darqueze Dennard (MSU), Bradley Roby(OSU)
Other thing I looked up. Michigan had just 41 punts this year, which was last in the Big Ten by ten. Also despite having the second-best gross average their net was only seventh:
Those punt returns stats aren't that bad despite seeming like they were going to be a disaster at any particular point; looks like the high touchback rate was an issue.
Scottish Premier League this baby. Tom Izzo is concerned [freep] that the Big Ten regular season title is no longer going to be an important thing, as I think everybody is. It was a big, big deal for Michigan to claim a share last year.
Once you get to 14 teams, you're playing everyone once and then missing about half the league the second time around. Schedule imbalances will lessen the importance of the regular season unless you go to 22 or more conference games, which may not be feasible.
Alternative: 19 game conference schedule.
PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin. Rutgers is relegated to the Big East every year.
PROS: Absolutely fair. Winner is undisputed. Makes Big Ten title a huge important deal. Final six games for teams that make upper half would be knock-down drag out brutal free-for-all for league title. Would give top teams impregnable schedule strength. You could televise the schedule draw with Ronaldo and Messi in suits.
CONS: May cost league NCAA bids if the best team in the bottom half can't get any marquee wins in the last six games or the worst team in the top half just gets blitzed. Bottom half is just kind of sadly playing out the string. Uncertainty about final three home games may impact ticket sales negatively. Extremely distant possibility that the 8th best team 13 games in can climb all the way to the top.
In conclusion, anything that amps up the value of the regular season is good. Play For Stuff.
Brian has already waxed poetic about the seniors, so I'll stick to moving pictures and keep the words to a minimum. I've done my best to cover each member of the outgoing class. Let's just say it was hard to pick one moment for this guy:
He may make some cameo appearances later.
[For the rest of the gifs, hit THE JUMP.]