Photo via Scout
Michigan picked up their highest-ranked player in the 2016 class and one of the most coveted offensive line prospects in the country this afternoon when four-star Hartland (WI) Arrowhead OL Ben Bredeson announced his commitment on Twitter. Notre Dame and Wisconsin were the two other schools most often mentioned as Bredeson's potential landing place, but ultimately the recruiting trio of Jim Harbaugh, Tim Drevno, and Greg Mattison—along with some help from Bredeson's older brother Jack, who'll play baseball for Michigan next year—sealed the deal.
4*, #1 OG,
4*, #4 OT,
4*, 85, #4 OT,
4*, 96, #10 OT,
4*, #4 OT,
Bredeson is universally regarded as one of the best linemen in the country, to the extent that despite being a (very high) four-star on all four sites he's a
five-star in the 247 Composite [well, was a five-star in the 247 Composite until 247 updated their rankings right as this posted]. That's about as tightly grouped a set of rankings as you'll see for a recruit not in Jabrill Peppers territory. If Bredeson remains this highly ranked, he should get that fifth star by the end of the cycle; last year, 35 prospects were 247 Composite five-stars.
I'd wager to say the only thing holding Bredeson back from ranking even higher is his size. At 6'5", 293 pounds, he's just a tad shorter than the prototype tackle prospect. Scout, which likes Bredeson the most, ranks him as their top guard. That's probably more a concern for the NFL level than it is for Michigan; Mason Cole is even a little smaller with Bredeson and held up quite well as a freshman left tackle. Bredeson should play wherever the team needs him most on the line, whether that's tackle or guard.
Other than needing to add some size and strength, an area for improvement that applies to pretty much every O-line prospect not built like Michael Onwenu, there's very little recruiting analysts don't like about Bredeson's game. Scout's free evaluation is demonstrative:
EvaluationOutstanding overall prospect with good technique and ability to bend. Has good flexibility in his lower body and has no issue winning leverage battles even against shorter defensive linemen. Plays with a mean streak and finishes his blocks strong. Can still polish up his pass pro, and add more strength up top, but has all the tools and the intangibles to develop into a top flight college lineman. Could play tackle or guard as well.
- Body Control and Balance
- Nasty Streak
Areas to Improve
- Power And Strength
ESPN's evaluation waffles so much—he's got good hand placement except when he doesn't, and same goes for pad level—that I won't bother posting anything but the conclusion ($):
Bredeson is tough prospect with the ability to transition to the college level as an OT or if needed slide inside. Needs to continue to fill out his frame and may need to adjust to a slightly steeper jump in competition, but big man that will battle and get the job done. With continued progress can be a strong multi-year starter for a Power-5 O-Line.
Consistency with technique is almost always a relative weakness for high school OL, but it seems like Bredeson is ahead of the curve. IrishIllustrated's Tim Prister broke down Bredeson's junior film and found "not a whole lot to critique," while noticing plenty to like ($):
Shows excellent balance as a run blocker even with such an aggressive, explosive first step, which can sometimes put an offensive lineman in a top-heavy mode. Uses his hands as weapons. Hands are a hammer-like force on defensive linemen. Once he gets his hands on a defensive lineman and gets into his upper body, it’s over.
A surprisingly adept pass blocker for someone so big and strong. Doesn’t have to strain to seal the edge with his feet. Sits nicely in his pass block, and then unleashes those powerful hands. Doesn’t just get hands on a body, but really punches with force. Many of his shots to the upper body stun opposing defenders, putting them on their heels.
His only concern was how Bredeson would handle speed rushers, but added "even that's a stretch." The praise for his technique is echoed by 247's Evan Sharpley:
Bredeson showcases tremendous technique, highlighted by the exceptional use of his hands. Defenders have a difficult time with him because he is able to create space with his lengthy frame. Ample athleticism to move around the line if needed.
Pad level and utilizing proper pass-blocking angles against speed rushers are noted as areas for improvement. Bredeson has had occasional issues in space against top-ranked defensive ends in camp settings, though as 247's Steve Wiltfong pointed out after The Opening regional in Chicago—where Bredeson earned an invite to the finals—he tends to learn quickly from his mistakes:
Top50 offensive tackle Ben Bredeson took all of his reps against elite guys, went back and forth with players like Auston Robertson and Josh King. Bredeson can absolutely bend, an agile lineman who is technically sound. Good agility and balance. Bredeson also did a good job bouncing back on the second rep. In pad, he’d of been more victorious in this setting.
Rivals sums it up succinctly:
What he lacks in height, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Bredeson makes up in technique, athleticism and intensity. He is well ahead of the curve from a fundamentals standpoint and has some of the best offensive line film in the class.
There's a chance Bredeson needs to slide inside to guard in college, but his floor appears to be excellent all-around guard.
Bredeson holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Iowa, LSU, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Mizzou, Nebraska, NC State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, among several others. Pretty good list, if you ask me.
Bredeson is the highest-ranked prospect to come out of Arrowhead, which has sent a couple of four-stars to Wisconsin (2004 DT Nick Hayden and 2003 QB Tyler Donovan) and a handful of three-stars to mostly Big Ten West schools.
Is O-lineman, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bredeson has a verified 40 time of 5.31, which gets zero FAKEs.
Bredeson's reps against Auston Robertson at The Opening regional in Chicago are below; he looks better in pads than he did in this particular setting, and it's worth noting these one-on-one drills tend to favor the defense:
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Bredeson's position could be determined by how Michigan fills in the O-line class around him. If they add another tackle-type to join Erik Swenson, Bredeson could begin on the interior of the line and slide out only if his pass protection proves better than the others. If they add another pure interior prospect to join Michael Onwenu, Bredeson could fit in at tackle. Either way, with Michigan's young O-line—every projected member of the two-deep except Graham Glasgow should be back in 2016—Bredeson should get a couple years to develop before he vies for the opportunity to be a multi-year starter.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Bredeson's commitment ensures that Michigan is going to have one of the best O-line classes in the country, especially since the Wolverines are the heavy favorite for four-star Terrance Davis and are right up there for four-stars Devery Hamilton and Michael Elitise. Getting one or two of those three would give Michigan a line class comparable to 2012's haul.
As for the numbers, yes, Michigan now has 15 commitments for 14 open spots. There will be more open spots by the time the season starts, and almost assuredly even more come Signing Day, when the numbers matter most. Again, I'll have a post on this later on this week. For now, enjoy that this class of fliers and lowly camp commits—oh, and six four-stars, I guess—is now ranked ninth in the country.