What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + SLOT.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Crazy productive interior DL. Had just about the same grade at PFF as Michigan's NFL-bound stars despite getting about 60% of their snaps, with more QB hurries than anyone on the team. That's overall, not on a per-snap basis. Likely first rounder in the next NFL draft. Could have gone this year. Get in his belly.
Return to left tackle a fait accompli after spring session where he did not play much, if any, C. Excellent run blocker there two years ago; pass pro was good except against top end guys; two years on he'll be better at the latter. How much is major season key. All Big Ten likely; hopefully he'll deserve it instead of getting the long-time OL starter nod.
Omar comin', except his name is Rashan and he is not little. Like Hurst, stuck behind future pros in 2016. Still flashed freaky ability; year two should be a breakout year so enormous it shatters windows across the Midwest. #1 overall prospects are in fact guarantees, and Gary showed plenty to indicate he would not be an exception.
Sole returning member of the front seven had some edge issues last year. Tackling in space was an Area For Improvement, as they say. Positives outweighed negatives, though, as McCray was an outstanding blitzer and reliably in the place he was supposed to be. Probably moves to MLB.
Bredeson is locked in at guard next to Cole; tackle snaps were fleeting. Reports are he's greatly improved, as rising true sophomores tend (and need) to; top-end recruiting profile indicates he's got considerable upside. Should be solid, but only that since he is still a second-year player. Distant possibility he flips out to tackle in fall; reputedly in the mix at LT last year.
Absolute dearth of interior DL behind him moves Mone up into lock territory. Aubrey Solomon and James Hudson arrive in fall but they're not displacing a redshirt junior who has flashed great talent when he's been healthy. Please please please stay that way. Did so through spring, which is progress. Doesn't have to be great with the guys around him. Plugger is a win. MEAT.
Moves to lock territory after spring despite remaining in the same place. Now the old man of the secondary with a beard to match, Kinnel is so locked into a starting job that he's rarely discussed anymore. Did well with dimeback snaps a year ago and looked the part in the spring game. Heady gent who should get Michigan in the right D consistently. A reload player, not a rebuild player.
Ebullient pass rusher produced five sacks despite playing time often measured in single-digit snaps. 27 pressure events on just 277 snaps is outstanding production, and PFF even liked him as a run defender (+6.5). Best case scenario for him after spending 2015 as an H-back. Jake Ryan-at-DE comps look spot on so far.
Got the you're-a-starter hook in the spring game and thus moves to lock territory despite a deep stable behind him. Scouts flag football at 7AM. Student of the game. Quick-twitch ankle-breaker; frequent five-wide this spring may be an indicator Michigan plans to utilize his receiving chops more frequently. Should be allowed to wear a helmet that has his hair on it.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Jordan Glasgow is apparently a VIPER(!) so Mean Ol' Josh Metellus is all but unchallenged as the other starting safety. Loved by Don Brown, who calls him a "savant"; turns out Devin Bush Sr might know a thing or two about defensive backs. Thumping tackler who looked very comfortable this spring; should slot into the Delano Hill role. Not as good at tracking down Dalvin Cook as Peppers, but that's life.
Bump since the absence of Drake Harris left him the only outside guy with much experience. Outstanding blocker and promising Adrian Arrington-esque big framed guy with downfield upside. Relatively limited spring game reps indicate he's secured his place on the depth chart. One great catch in garbage time a year ago.
Down from lock territory after Brandon Peters's torrid spring game and Speight's corresponding struggles. While he's still the heavy favorite after a 63%, 8.1 YPA, 17-5 TD-INT sophomore year, I'm saying there's a chance. Impressive pocket presence and plus—but not perfect—accuracy need to return for him to maintain.
Moved to the VIPER spot he was born to play and has reportedly locked it down, much to your author's delight. Violent shock tackler just about decapitated John O'Korn, but legal-like, in the spring game; also in the back pocket of tight ends on routes. Not Peppers... but basically Peppers.
Slight drop because Onwenu is not the 350-pound grape-destroying guard previous edition projected but is apparently a 370 pound version of same who needs to drop weight to help his endurance. Inability to shed in year one a little worrisome. Still very likely to start. +3 in 91 snaps to PFF last year. That's like +30 for a full season. Caveat: Rutgers.
Emergence of Robocop as real PT threat cost him a few spots but he remains in the near-lock category after starring as the Tasmanian Devil in the spring game. His blitzing is a problem for RBs and he offers more range than anyone else on the roster. Brings a much-needed infusion of dreads to the starting lineup. Has no idea how to draw a Wolverine.
Ol' Skillet Hands flashed massive receiving upside after Butt's exit against FSU. Also blew a pass protection rather spectacularly. Emergence of competitors and spring dings knock him down a bit; Gentry and Eubanks may eat into FLEX snaps and see him more inline. Still a rangy rangy man who is no longer blocked by an exceptional receiving TE; breakout en route.
If I had a Panda / I'd hammer in the morning / I'd hammer in the evening / but only in the endzone. Impact Fullback Khalid Hill specialized in two-for-one edge blocks, one yard touchdown runs, wide open flare routes, spectacular catches, and self-nicknaming that was so amazing people just ran with it.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
Another frequent spring absentee dips a bit, but proclamations that Hill is Michigan's most talented corner see him slot in as a near-lock. He's got more experience than any other competitor and played well in limited time a year ago. Jourdan Lewis 2.0 is the expectation; have fun living up to that one.
Bounces back up after kicker trepidation in last edition since he hit a 48 yarder that would have been good from 70 in the spring game and followed that up with more bombs in Rome. Still, evidence is thin: 2/3 on FGs as a senior. Tice and Seychel also looked good, but only one man in this race can kick a ball so hard it goes backwards in time.
20. SLOT Eddie McDoom, So. [Last time: NR]
McDoom bounces the still-absent Grant Perry after news that his spring game injury is not serious. End-around specialist brough a Breastonian flair to proceedings last year and will hope to add some downfield stuff in year two. High hopes he can replicate Perry's route artisanship and add some spectacular jukes. Watch out for Nate Schoenle here.
Could have gone Gentry/Bunting w/ TEs but this space still projects that Wheatley's size and blocking upside will see him into the starting lineup, or close enough. Moves incredibly well for a guy his size and just needs to get the details down to be a monster. Crushes a guy one play, falls off him the next. Consistency, consistency, consistency. /pours one out for dear departed Kaiju
Cole's move outside opens up a slot at center, Kugler's specialty. For now he is fending off early-enrolled freshman Cesar Ruiz, and since he's a fifth year player and Ruiz is a first year player we'll project that he holds onto the spot. We'll even keep him out of "In A Battle" because we remember his recruitment, when he visited East Lansing and liked it so much he immediately committed to Michigan.
IN A BATTLE
Early PT last year barely keeps Long above spring breakout Keith Washington and EE freshman Ambry Thomas, but spring absence and lack of coach chatter throws the second corner spot into a wide-open battle. It'll probably be fine what with various talented folks competing; worry factor here has increased meaningfully.
DPJ was in and out during spring; when in was wowing each and ever practice observer. W/ Drake Harris, the previous resident at this spot, sidelined the whole spring DPJ is your tentative leader. Harris and fellow EE freshman Tarik Black are going to push; the bet here is DPJ is one of the 33% of five-star WRs who's immediately a weapon.
Peppers's backup last year, and well-liked by the coaches. But how does Furbush replace a safety? Against Wisconsin and MSU, well. Against spread offenses not so much. Could see meaningful PT in half Michigan's games; could once again be a little-used backup. Watch out for Josh Uche as a blitz specialist.
Foresight of using Jordan Glasgow in a bear shirt instead of a picture of the punter in question should now be undeniable, as I can leave Jordan Glasgow in a bear shirt up instead of scouring the internet for a picture of Brad Robbins, new scholarship punter and hang-time specialist.
W/ Newsome almost certainly out for the year Michigan will be choosing between tackle-shaped freshmen and guard-shaped veterans for the RT spot. Our wild guess remains on Stueber but John Runyan Jr's strong spring makes him a candidate and Chuck Filiagia will have a say. There's a reason this is #27.
TECHNICALLY NOT STARTERS BUT CLOSE ENOUGH
QB Brandon Peters—first Harbaugh-selected QB on the roster comes with massive expectations.
RB Ty Isaac—spring hype petered out into decent play.
RB Karan Higdon—Impressed with his quick cuts and low pad level. Will continue to see snaps.
FB Henry Poggi—less dynamic Michigan fullback, and one who had some issues getting his hat on someone last year.
WR Tarik Black—mondo outside WR impressed at Army game.
TE Nick Eubanks—FLEX TE looks like a TE this year.
TE Zach Gentry—FLEX TE still looks like a WR but constantly catching passes this spring.
C Cesar Ruiz—advanced C prospect will push for starting job
T Jon Runyan Jr.—Tentative RT starter coming out of spring; can he hold on?
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader on the interior had powerful blocks.
SDE Carlo Kemp—well liked by coaching staff and should be Gary's backup.
NT Michael Dwumfour—two deep by default; praised by players and coaches.
VIPER Jordan Glasgow—looked highly capable in spring, should see playing time.
MLB Mike Wroblewski—walk-on is at worst the #3 LB.
CB Ambry Thomas—let's have a tiny war.
CB Brandon Watson—nickelback sort got a reasonable amount of PT last year.
CB Keith Washington—did not find PT last year, will try again.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB John O'Korn—iffy Indiana outing was a win, at least.
RB Kareem Walker—academic redshirt out of the way and time to start displaying that talent.
FB Ben Mason—will get shot at LB but FB depth chart is wide open next year
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Moe Ways—passed by Crawford and Harris. Getting late early.
WR Oliver Martin—slot-ish guy with downfield upside and not-just-a-shooter athleticism.
WR Nico Collins—Funchess 2.0?
TE Sean McKeon—probably did get a redshirt after all.
G Andrew Vastardis—walk-on clearly better than backup DTs, is in conversation.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—injuries in spring will not help his cause.
T Grant Newsome—assuming a redshirt.
NT Aubrey Solomon—monster five star nose prospect will be in two deep from the drop.
3T James Hudson—Henry 2.0.
WDE Luiji Vilain—big mover after Army game will push for PT immediately.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most likely ILB backup given roster.
SAM Josh Uche—Don Brown dude could be chaos generator.
S Jaylen Kelly-Powell—Cass's pick to cover Ambry Thomas. Promises to be slot-coverage safety.
S J'Marick Woods—3.5 out of Alabama was a favorite of the coaching staff
S Brad Hawkins—we're just going to make this position switch now.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Dylan McCaffrey—oblig redshirt year coming up.
RB O'Maury Samuels—just too many bodies in front of him
RB Kurt Taylor—Vincent Smith-alike will likely spend year getting pass pro down
G JaRaymond Hall—only incoming OL listed at under 300.
G Phil Paea—two-way DL/OL will probably land on O, eventually.
T Nolan Ulizio—some playing time he seemed iffy in. Reportedly had mono and was too light.
T Chuck Filiaga—had some Army game struggles; redshirt likely.
T Joel Honigford—redshirt, weight, etc.
3T Lawrence Marshall—now 285 and a three tech, which is one too many moves.
3T Ron Johnson—desperation saw him move inside this spring, hopefully bounced back out to end.
3T Deron Irving-Bey—raw prospect will need to settle on a position.
SDE Donovan Jeter—ND decommit w/ salty comments afterwards will be fan favorite
WDE Reuben Jones—worker popular with teammates.
WDE Kwity Paye—seasoning necessary, but Don Brown dude.
MLB Drew Singleton—coming off ACL surgery and probably needs a year
SAM Jordan Anthony—heated VIPER competition in front of him
WLB Josh Ross—younger brother of James brings more size, fewer instincts.
CB Benjamin St Juste—probably needs some seasoning after playing in Canada.