"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
We didn't see Mundy coming either
"People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be."
Ace: Which Michigan alum—aside from Tom Brady—most surprised you with his NFL/NBA/NHL success, and which most surprised you by not panning out?
David Nasternak: Jamal Crawford. This is probably a controversial choice for several reasons. A). He only played about half a year at M. 2). His M career ended rather notoriously. C). He's kinda the forgotten man, associated with M, that just keeps churning out respectable NBA years.
|The thing I remember most about Jamal Crawford is the way the NCAA handled him was the moment that separated me from the NCAA party line on extra benefits, as it was so obvious the NCAA was way more the bad guys than the players they went after.|
Never known for his defense, Crawford has found his niche coming off the bench and providing instant offense, over the last half-decade or so. He's a career 35% 3PT shooter, hits 86% of his FTs, and has never averaged less than 13.9 ppg since 02-03, his third year in the NBA. Crawford has been a little hard to keep track of because of the six different uniforms that he's worn. He reinvented himself with his stellar bench play in 09-10 with Atlanta, winning the 6th Man of the Year. He also won it again in 13-14 and was highly considered two other times (10-11 and 12-13). Crawford also passed Reggie Miller for most career 4 point plays...he is sitting at 44, currently. Until 2010, he had the record for longest tenured player to never make the playoffs. Once breaking into the postseason, Crawford showed he belonged, averaging 15.0 ppg off the bench in 42 games.
I don't think that Jamal Crawford is/was one of the best players in the NBA at any time during his career. He was never an elite shooter. But he could always find a way to score the ball. After embracing his 6th man role, Crawford became a very credible asset. His numbers have continued to remain steady with the Clippers in his 16th (!!!) year in the NBA (only one significantly shortened to 11 games). Jamal Crawford has been M's longest presence in the NBA since Juwan Howard (who somehow managed to play 19 years??? Although, the last 7 years of Howard's career didn't touch any of Crawford's stats, including Games Played). Watching him play, I still think Crawford has a couple solid years left...even at the young age of 35. Love him or hate him, Dude just keeps contributing.
Ace: Mundy isn't a star by any means, but he's started 28 games over the last three seasons, including all 16 last year for Chicago. Anyone who remembers Mundy's much-maligned stint as a starting safety—before he played his fifth year at West Virginia—is probably surprised by this. While the Bears defense was bad last year, Mundy managed to be something of a bright spot with over 100 tackles and four interceptions. Just by remaining in the league this long, he's surpassed most expectations; not many undrafted players get starts at age 30.
[After the jump: what's a safety, and Don Draper]
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.]