As the 2023 NFL combine begins in Indianapolis, many Michigan players are ready to transition from the collegiate level to the pros. With the most combine invitees in the Big Ten, Michigan is well represented. Representing the Wolverines in the 2023 combine are WR Ronnie Bell, DB DJ Turner, defensive linemen Mazi Smith and Mike Morris, TE Luke Schoonmaker, and offensive linemen Ryan Hayes and Olu Oluwatimi. Additionally, Michigan loses prominent and all-time leading point scorer Kicker Jake “Money” Moody and his special teams partner Punter Brad Robbins.
The three guys from Michigan that are projected to get drafted first are DJ Turner, Mazi Smith, and Mike Morris. Last season, these three were all part of a CFB playoff defense and are expected to make the most impact in the NFL. Turner produced 27 solo tackles and one interception last season. However, his aggressiveness and man-to-man coverage improved, and he will be able to develop at the next level.
Mazi Smith was one of the biggest forces on the Michigan D-line and produced 23 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. However, similar to Turner, he vastly improved over his time at Michigan, and he can be a force up front for any team in need of a D-line in the upcoming draft. Mike Morris was another force on that D-line. He added seven sacks, 16 tackles, and one forced fumble on the season. Another D-line-needy team that wants a tenacious, fearless D-lineman will be happy with this pick. These three defenders will look to have a good NFL combine showing and boost their draft stock. Morris and Smith will work out on Saturday, March 5th.
On the other side of the line, Michigan produces two guys who were part of the back-to-back Joe Moore award-winning O-line group. However, Olu Oluwatimi and Ryan Hayes provided a big presence up front for J.J. McCarthy and the run game. Any NFL team in need of depth or a developing starter should take a chance on these guys. These two will compete at the NFL combine on Saturday, March 5th. Turner will work out on Sunday, March 6th.
Two offensive studs are also entering the draft from Michigan: WR Ronnie Bell and TE Luke Schoonmaker. Ronnie was a captain for this team and an integral part of the offense. He has impressive career numbers and people expect him to be selected anytime in the mid to late rounds of the draft. He produced 2,269 yards and nine touchdowns in his career at Michigan. Luke Schoonmaker was a huge part of the 2022 offense in particular. In 2022, he had 418 yards and three touchdowns. These two will perform their combine workouts on Thursday, March 3rd.
Special teams standouts:
In this draft, Michigan loses its leading points scorer of all time in Kicker Jake Moody. Additionally, many analysts have Moody getting drafted, as he is one of the greatest college football kickers ever. Brad Robbins was a consistently good punter who did his job at a very high level. Although he is not expected to be drafted, he will be a prized free-agent signing for a punter-needy team.
As the combine begins, and the players all compete to improve draft stock, I wish the best of luck to all these Michigan men who will continue to be great at the next level.
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