UM in the NFL

Submitted by AC1997 on April 25th, 2012 at 10:57 PM

On the eve of the NFL draft I thought I'd spark some discussion on the board by asking the following two questions:

  1. Which former Michigan player surprised you with how successful he was in the NFL?
  2. Which former Michigan player shocked you the most for failing to be successful in the NFL?

Here are my thoughts:

  • I was always surprised at how long Chris Calloway played effectively in the NFL.  He was undersized, had modest stats at Michigan, and always shared the spotlight with Greg McMurtry.  Yet he played a long time with a fair amount of success for the Giants.  (Much in the way that Jason Avant will play a long time.)
  • The guy I am still amazed about his flame out is David Terrell.  I know he wasn't known for his work ethic or fundamentals, but he was so amazing at Michigan and did absolutely nothing in the pros.  Maybe he should have been the first evidence that Tom Brady was really good. 
  • I know it is early and there's still time for him to turn it around, but Chad Henne's lackluster career surprises me also.  I do think that the lousy Dolphins played a part, but I thought he'd be solid. 
  • Other surprise disappointments that were mostly due to injury were Tripp Welbourne, Marquis Walker, and Brandon Graham (so far). 



April 26th, 2012 at 8:21 AM ^

1) Jim Harbaugh- I had no idea he would be as successful as a coach in both college and the pros (only one year, but still). I didn't see him play in college, and only remember his nfl days when he was at the end of his career, but I'm happy that he (and his brother) have been such successful coaches.

Tom Brady- At the beginning of his college career, he was a bit over shadowed by Henson and I'm not sure he really overcame that until he left. He was good in college, but he's been better in the pros.

Steve Hutchinson- Yes, he was a late first roun pick, but he's been dominant in the NFL and he's still playing at a high level. He's been the kind of guy teams build around, which is saying a lot as a lineman.

2) Braylon Edwards- Such promise, never lived up to the first round pick level. Too many off-field distractions.

Chad Henne- At least he was better than Brady Quinn.

CRISPed in the DIAG

April 26th, 2012 at 9:17 AM ^

Great suggestions on both points. I'm thinking that UM RB's who are drafted in the League seem to flame out because of the mileage on their rigs.  Rob Lytle and Butch Woolfolk were the first guys I remember fitting that profile - they surface for a few good games and break down.   A-Train, Big Carry and D. Hart later on.  Football Outsiders has some good stuff on this issue, in general.

Stephen Hawking

April 26th, 2012 at 9:20 AM ^

As a Bears fan I was really thrilled that Chicago drafted both David Terrell and Anthony Thomas with their first two picks in 2000 (I think). I thought Terrell was a can't miss guy and A-Train would be solid. Well, Terrell ended up having a severe case of the dropsies but Thomas did a pretty good job for 2-3 seasons. I think he rushed for 1000 yards either his first or second year in the NFL; he was a pleasant surprise but he got bitten by the injury bug and never fully recovered.


April 26th, 2012 at 9:22 AM ^

All the good ones have been mentioned. The obvious on either end, Brady and Terrell.  But I was going to go offbeat and say Collins (because who'd guess he'd play 16 years in the NFL?), but someone already mentioned him.  And most heartbreaking to me is Wheatley, who I still think would have been better in the NFL (he had a fine, average career) but for the fact he was drafted by a GM who had a coach who didn't want him at that pick, and liked big fat backs rather than what T-Wheat's strengths were, and broke his body up till he escaped to Raiders, a shadow of his former self. (James Hall was a nice surprise mention above).


April 26th, 2012 at 9:41 AM ^

I was sure that Breaston would be a decent special teams player, but I never saw him becoming a 1,000 yard receiver.


I just can't believe how Braylon's career has gone.  As a Browns fan I was going absolutely nuts when we drafted him.  I have never gone from loving a player so much, to practically despising him.


April 26th, 2012 at 9:43 AM ^

As someone said above, I thought he'd be a much better pro than he's been...As far as unexpected success, Brian Griese had a better career than I thought he would. 


April 26th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

Surprise - How about Ryan Mundy? That guy got solid playing time wtih the Steelers, and I don't think anybody really ever game him a legit shot.

Another option - Breaston - dude is a stud in the NFL, and really has stepped up his entire game

Disapointment - Rob Renes. That guy used to forklift people into the backfield and dominate the middle like none other. I remember a game where he bodyslammed the RB and QB during the handoff exchange at one time. He had a back injury... too bad.

Another option - Mike Hart was so amazing in college, I thought for sure he would be a great NFL back.

I Miss Bursley

April 26th, 2012 at 10:27 AM ^

Biggest disappointed for me (so far) has been Henne. I was a 100% certain that he was completely underrated in the draft and should have been a first round pick.

Still hoping he turns it around, I absolutely loved his career at Michigan, despite the ups and downs.


April 26th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

1.  I disagree with those who said Tom Brady.  Watching him, you could tell that he had all of the tools to be an NFL QB, and perhaps a very good one.  So, I would have to say Breaston - didn;t see the level of success that he has had.  honorable mention to Griese.

2.  I have three:  (1) Braylon - dude has insane NFL skills, a 6-2 frame and the ability to leap tall mountains and high point the ball.  How is he not one of the top receivers in the game?  (Answer:  He keeps shooting him career in the foot with stupidity); (2) Henne - Big time arm, good accuracy, tall big guy - I thought he had all of the tools to succeed, but he looks destined to be a career back-up; (3) All U-M running backs since I started really following (1994): Wheatley, Toughdown Tim, A Train, Perry, and even Hart.  Funny thing is that while most had very little NFL hope for Hart, in the few games that he played, he played really well.


April 26th, 2012 at 11:07 AM ^

Henne didn't surprise me as much - he was a good passer in college, but I never felt like he improved to the point that he could be a good NFL QB.  He always seemed flustered with a rush, wasn't great at finding guys in traffic, and just seemed like a backup QB.  Braylon I agree with, though.


April 26th, 2012 at 6:12 PM ^

I thought Hart would last longer in Indy since they were so pass oriented defenses wouldn't pay too much attention to the running game.  It was a good spot for him.   Most other places he was just too small.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

April 26th, 2012 at 10:36 PM ^

I can't say I'm too surprised about Braylon.  It's one thing to suffer from the dropsies in college, another in the NFL.  You're paid to catch the damn ball, and if you don't, your career isn't too good.

Many names already mentioned positively and negatively, so I'm going to bring up Desmond Howard as a disappointment, at least as a WR.  His third year was his best: 40 rec for 727 yds, 5 TDs, sandwiched between 23-286-0 and 26-276-1.  I thought he was going to be better.  Of course, he did have a long career due to his return ability, and an MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXI.