Wolverines in the NFL: Draft Class of 2007
I like to keep tabs on my fellow Wolverines who have gone on to play in the NFL. So, while checking up on their stats and forecasting the upcoming season, I decided to jot down my notes and thoughts for everybody. If people like what they see then I can keep going with more players down the road. Let me know if you disagree with any projections or if you notice any errors.
UPDATE (7/17/08): Added Tyler Ecker; improved formatting
This time I looked at last year’s rookies.
Leon Hall (CB, Cincinnati)
- 2007 Stats: NFL All-Rookie team, 16 games (10 started), 68 tackles (54 solo), 5 Int, 17 PDef
- 2007 Season Review: Hall impressed at the NFL combine with a 40 time of 4.38 seconds and was drafted in the 1st round (18th overall) by the Bengals. He also showcased his skills during training camp, leaving many to believe he would be a significant contributor his rookie season. Hall did not disappoint, finishing 9th in the NFL in interceptions (1st among rookies) and 22nd in pass deflections (2nd among rookies). He also tied a Bengals record for interceptions by a rookie.
- 2008 Season Projection: By the second half of the 2007 season, Hall had supplanted Deltha O’Neal in the starting lineup. As a projected starter for 2008, look for Hall to improve in his second year. While not quite ready to make the jump to All-Pro in 2008, Hall is certainly capable of being that type of player in years to come. Playing opposite of 3rd year cornerback Johnathan Joseph, the Bengals have a solid cornerback tandem for the coming seasons.
- 2007 Stats: NFL All-Rookie team, 16 games (9 started), 127 tackles (90 solo), 2 FF, 1 FR, 5 sacks, 3 PDef
- 2007 Season Review: The Jets traded up in the draft to get Harris in the 2nd round (47th overall). He started 9 games after regular starter Jonathan Vilma went down with a knee injury in Week 8. He finished with 127 tackles, good enough for 8th in the league and 3rd among rookies.
- 2008 Season Projection: Vilma has since been traded to New Orleans making Harris the favorite to start at MLB in 2008. Harris should improve his stats now that he has an opportunity to start every Sunday.
- 2007 Stats: 1,391 KR yds (22.4 yds avg), 395 PR yds (9.4 yds avg), 1 PR TD,
- 2007 Season Review: Selected in the 5th round (142nd overall), Breaston was used primarily as the return specialist, buried on the depth chart at WR with only 8 catches for 92 yds. He was electric as a return specialist, ranking 5th in the NFL in both kick return yards and punt return yards (2nd and 1st among rookies, respectively).
- 2008 Season Projection: Expect more of the same from his return game... a top 5 return specialist in the league. Breaston also has an opportunity to move to #3 on the WR depth chart this season, allowing him to get more opportunities as a slot WR. He could provide an excellent midfield threat to compliment the downfield abilities of Boldin and Fitzgerald. If Breaston can duplicate the numbers of since departed WR Bryant Johnson (49ers), who posted 46 catches for 528 yds and 2 TDs, then it would certainly be a successful season. I expect more in the neighborhood of 30 catches for 250 yds.
- 2007 Stats: 11 games, 9 tackles (8 solo)
- 2007 Season Review: After being selected with the first pick of the 2nd round (33rd overall), Branch had an underwhelming rookie season. Limited by a hand injury early in the season, Branch didn’t see the field until Week 6. He played as a backup for the entire season. Twelve rookie DTs recorded more tackles than Branch in 2007.
- 2008 Season Projection: Branch has an opportunity to break into the starting lineup in 2008 thanks to a treadmill breaking fellow Wolverine Gabe Watson’s knee cap (!?). Still, Branch needs to show that he can be the dominant DT that he showed he could be (at times) while at Michigan.
- 2007 Stats: 14 games, 17 tackles (17 solo), 6 sacks
- 2007 Season Review: Drafted in the 2nd round (46th overall), Woodley played the 2007 season as a backup to Clark Haggans (now with the Cardinals). Woodley was impressive in limited playing time, finishing 5th in sacks among rookies in the regular season.
- 2008 Season Projection: With Haggans gone, Woodley will step into the starting lineup with James Harrison at OLB. Pittsburgh’s LBs will be the primary strength of an already good defense (fellow Wolverine Larry Foote is a starting ILB). I expect Woodley to approach 100 tackles in 2008.
- 2007 Stats: 8 games, 4 tackles (4 solo)
- 2007 Season Review: Drafted in the 6th round (207th overall), Burgess was a backup during the 2007 season, playing mostly on special teams. His 2007 season was ended early after he was placed on IR after Week 10 with a hip injury.
- 2008 Season Projection: Burgess’s role with the Ravens will not improve in 2008. He will continue to play primarily on special teams and may be forced into the lineup if injuries befall the LB group.
- 2007 Stats: DNP
- 2007 Season Review: Ecker was drafted in the 7th round (216th overall) by Washington. He did not play at all in the 2007 season. Apparently he hurt his groin in training camp and was on the IR all season.
- 2008 Season Projection: Is he still even on the team? I don’t know, but even if he is there is no way he sees the field barring several injuries. The Skins have Chris Cooley (arguable their best receiver) with backups Todd Yoder (veteran, blocking-type) and rookie Fred Davis (rookie, athletic-type). Good luck, Tyler.