Michigan and future NFL Olinemen

Submitted by UofM Die Hard … on October 7th, 2015 at 12:37 PM

Don't get a lot of Michigan football news on sports radio here in Seattle but heard something today that I thought I would share with all you hooligans.


They were talking about how the NFL Oline play has been putrid this year and that youngmen coming in have no idea how to play Oline  because of all the spread in college.  A listener asked if they think it will get fixed and the first answer was that they are skeptical but Michigan is going to start pumping out quality NFL Oline prospects.  They said...paraphrasing....ya we dont like Harbaugh here in Seattle but we cant ignore what he is doing there with his Oline play , he is going to get top recruits who want to learn how to play oline the right way. 


Nice little recruiting plug for west coast prospects. Felt like a kid on Christmas eve when I heard "Michigan" come out of their mouths. 

My question, what other college teams could start to right the ship of NFL oline play?  Stanford, USC...was struggling to come up with many. 


Bash away :)




October 7th, 2015 at 12:41 PM ^

Don't the Seahawks have a bunch of OL who played other positions in college? Maybe that's a factor in their poor play, not some Gary Danielson-like spread prejudice. Just sayin.


October 7th, 2015 at 12:43 PM ^

I think Glasgow has a shot to get drafted as an offensive guard this year.

I really miss the big, brutal offensive linemen of the past. I think we're getting back to it, but Lewan and Molk were the only real standouts over the past six or seven years.


October 7th, 2015 at 12:53 PM ^

This is a great post. I have long thought that the schemes used in college have a direct impact on who is being well prepared to play in the league. Recently, I read an article about how QB's in a spread scheme are at a disadvantage. Whether or not that is true, I don't know. But I believe there is really something to this argument.

Previously, I kind of thought that the choice was between boring, uninnovative uninspired pro-style, and an exciting spread style of formation. (That definitely seemed to be Brian's bias). As he has done the UFR, he has commented that while Harbaugh is definitely pro- formation, he is not boring and predictable.

I think that NFL teams are very aware of Harbaugh and his staff. You pretty much know that if you come out of Michigan, you will have been coached the right way, and earned the right to play.

This is going to have huge positive ramifications for recruiting. Both recruits and their parents aren't idiots. If you know that certain teams will better prepare you for the NFL, that is a huge selling point. I could easily see this swaying some OL, along with the likes of Gary et al.

I don't think there are that many teams that are doing this. Stanford, Alabama, Michigan come to mind. Maybe USC. You have to be able to recruit at a very high level to do this. When you have a really solid pro-style team, they often can overcome many spread teams that have looked unbeatable. (e.g., Oregon, etc.).


October 7th, 2015 at 2:13 PM ^

i dont know about "wore out" but stanfords front 7 and DL in particular just destroyed oregons OL and then they tackled well.

its difficult to stop excellent spread Os just like its difficult to stop excellent any-style Os - but dominant DL playing in opponents backfield and sure tackling are a great start (ie osu's title run last year)

UofM Die Hard …

October 7th, 2015 at 1:00 PM ^

shame on me for forgetting Wisconsin. 


I 100% agree with you about the "12s".  I am a Hawks AND Lions fan but the 12s are ridiculous. And when I say 12s I mean people who think Russell Wilson is a top 3 QB and they start Kickstarters to pay for Kam Chancellors fines.  Freaking dumb.


I watch games and thats about it. But agree with you.


October 7th, 2015 at 12:59 PM ^

Can't wait for the next great #77 OT to come through UM. Anybody else feel like that number symbolizes great left OTs at UM?

It just looks perfect on a 6'7 300 lb. lineman.


October 7th, 2015 at 1:00 PM ^

Operating on the assumption that Harbaugh can right the ship offensively in the next couple of years (and, come on, obviously he can and will), I totally agree that Michigan will very quickly start to produce very quality NFL draft picks and will have a distinct comparative advantage in doing so. Of course, what that means is that more recruits will come to Michigan because they see what a Michigan playing career can do for them. As we get better recruits, we play better and send more guys to the NFL, thereby attracting even more awesome recruits.

In short, it's a feedback loop of awesomeness and dominance that doesn't end until Harbaugh reigns supreme.

Btown Wolverine

October 7th, 2015 at 1:01 PM ^

Related question: What about RBs? It seems like this is an offense that would be very appealing to top RBs who want to showcase their talents someplace where they could be the cornerstone of the offense.

For the experts on the board: Are there any major differences between what the RBs are asked to do in power offenses vs. spread offenses? Do they need to make more or harder reads/decisions in one or the other?


October 7th, 2015 at 1:18 PM ^

"Spread" isn't really a system. There are some teams who spread it out and run zone, and there are some teams who spread it out and run power. For teams that are largely zone, I think it's pretty easy because you're making about two reads before it becomes just about whether you're a good runner or not. For example, on an inside zone run, you're reading the playside DL and then the MIKE linebacker (in some systems, you read your OL).

I think playing in Harbaugh's offense would be slightly more difficult because there are so many different types of blocking, your reads vary. But at the same time, so much of being a RB is based on instinct and athletic talent that most backs who are truly talented could probably succeed in both. For example, Adrian Peterson would do just fine in a zone scheme or in a power running scheme.

Btown Wolverine

October 7th, 2015 at 1:45 PM ^

Awesome. Thanks! I was thinking about the patience in waiting for blocks to develop that has been mentioned in the context of Harbaugh's offense in particular, and that that may be an attractive quality for NFL scouts as it shows off a back's vision...but I don't know enough about blocking schemes to know if it's easier to show that off in this type of scheme vs. a zone blocking scheme.

Marley Nowell

October 7th, 2015 at 1:21 PM ^

I don't agree with the premise that spread offenses have ruined O-lineman. The NFL has basically become a pure passing league where O-lineman are in pass protection about 60-70% of the time. Pass protection is much more nuanced than run blocking requiring more balance and the ability to absorb contact. Additionally defensive lineman, particularly interior d-lineman, are much more pass rush oriented as that skill is now a premium. As we have seen Harbaugh's offense is almost an anomaly as the spread was before it became the norm. This is also the reason the spread has made worse QBs meme is that QBs are required to do more than ever as running games have become marginalized. NFL teams will have to adapt and realize there are only so many franchise QBs and they need to invest in the running game to protect the QBs they can get.


October 7th, 2015 at 1:28 PM ^

The quality of play on NFL lines has been steadily decreasing for years. Seems like every year, someone is challenging the sack record. I used to attribute this to the increasing emphasis on speed and athleticism on defense as opposed to the old size/run stopping ability focus. But I'm not so sure anymore.

There is a weird dynamic in the NFL nowadays, where athleticism is only really seen as a requisite for Tackles. Teams still draft big, fat, poor-moving interior linemen. Look at recent first-round Guards. Most are regarded as road-graders. Most are also not very good. The NFL has to get away from this paradigm.


October 7th, 2015 at 5:57 PM ^

That is certainly part of it. Offenses also run more plays than they used to due to tempo and more attempts leading t more incompletions stopping the clock.

But the sack thing was just a quick way to highlight my opinion. The fat is, line play is down. The guys just aren't very good, particularly on the inside. Which is a shame, because the athleticism has skyrocketed at every other position. The NFL is still drafting guards from the 90s and earlier despite their job changing. They aren't tasked with blocking 90s linemen.

It's so discouraging that I no longer even watch much NFL. Bad line play and terrible, horrible, no good refereeing coupled with a ridiculous rulebook.

Mr. Yost

October 7th, 2015 at 2:01 PM ^

Sometimes I wish the Mods would lock and then explain tastefully what went wrong so it won't happen again. Now only those who saw it may "learn" from this lesson.


October 7th, 2015 at 3:15 PM ^

it was clear he could offer something Urban can't:  I know what the NFL is looking for in players, I was in the NFL, and I can help you get there as a player.

All we need to do is win some games, demonstrate player development, and the power of that message grows.  So far, so good.  We've been winning, it's clear this coaching staff is very competent, and it appears the message is gaining traction with those that are paying attention.



October 7th, 2015 at 3:34 PM ^

Same tired schtick from NFL: blame the spread. It was quarterbacks last week. Now it's OLine. It'll be DLine next ("they don't know how to block because of the spread"). The NFL has some serious talent evaluation deficiencies, despite their appearances of diligence. Heaven forbid that coaches have to coach, rather than scheme.

I don't see college coaches blaming the high school inverted veer for the failure of some recruits. Maybe they do and I haven't noticed. College coaches are expected to teach their offense. Pros should work the same way.

I agree that this may help future UofM football players. But it's for the wrong reasons.


October 7th, 2015 at 3:56 PM ^

It's even more interesting to consider how popularized, and media-driven the NFL Combine has become (sometimes pejoratively refered to as "the underwear olympics").

As well as the explosion of quantification and measurement in our modern world.

40-times, BP-reps, heights/weights, etc. etc.

When what is most of all important is still "how does the player play football when they are playing football?"

For instance, the whole a tackle who has 32-inch arm-length vs. a tackle who has 34-inch arm-length is the difference between a 3-5th Round, and a Top 10 Draft pick.

Or how 40-times somehow launch players up the Draft Board.

I realize the main conversation had to do with O-Lineman training via "the spread-Off" in the NFL, but I think it would be interesting to investigate the evolution of non-football/game-film measurement, i.e. NFL Combine, over the past decade or so.

Lucky Socks

October 7th, 2015 at 6:16 PM ^

I have the same opinion about QBs.  Why are Cousins, Hoyer, McCarron, and so many more "game managers' sticking in the league as back-up QBs despite mediocre physical tools?  They know how to think the game and manage a pro-style offense.


October 7th, 2015 at 7:55 PM ^

Michigan will be the mid west's, "Alabama" except we will have better QB's. Michigan will produce numerous NFL players year in and year out. Book it.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

Roc Blue in the Lou

October 7th, 2015 at 11:23 PM ^

Guard play is having a resurgance in the NFL and I think Glasgow will benefit in the draft from the way Coach JH is using him on traps and pulling him even outside the tackle to block for sweeps and other plays...i really think, barring injury, he's 3rd or even 2nd round pick.  JMO, but i'm pumped with the way Drevno is using him.