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Which Michigan natives will be taken in NFL Draft? Here’s a look at a handful who might

By: Matthew B. Mowery, April 25, 2019, 1:45 pm

 

 

Four or five years after they took the first step toward making their NFL dreams come true, signing with the college program they thought could help get them there, now all those Michigan kids are hoping to take that last step — and have the phone ring with an NFL team on the other end of the line. The truth is, a handful of Michigan natives will hear their names called on the numerous TV broadcasts of the NFL Draft over the next three days, while many more will get a chance at trying to make a roster as a priority free agent, or through tryout camps. 

 

Here’s a look at the handful of players who might be in line to get that NFL call:

 

 

Michael Jordan • C/OG • Ohio State

A Plymouth High School graduate, Jordan was an early enrollee at OSU, and joined the starting lineup midway through spring drills, becoming the first true freshman to start on the OSU offensive line in 23 years (and the sixth overall), since Orlando Pace in 1994. Jordan started all 41 games of his career, playing the first two seasons at right guard, then last season at center, replacing All-American Billy Price, before renouncing his final season of eligibility to enter the draft as a true junior.

 

What they’re saying: 

“Center-guard prospect with NFL size and a frame that should add even more mass and muscle. Jordan has rare height for a center but has easy flexibility in his hips, knees and ankles, allowing him to man the position. He’s a little lazy with his hands and might not move well enough for teams asking their interior linemen to get out in space. His 2017 guard tape might be more appealing to teams as he flashed as a drive-blocker. His size and versatility could make him a Day 2 draft pick with starting potential early in his career.” — NFL.com analyst Lanze Zierlein

 

Where he’s predicted to go:

Draft Scout: No. 4 C, 2nd round

CBS Sports’ R.J. White: 3rd round, to Miami

DraftTek: 3rd round, to Carolina

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: 3rd round, to LA Rams

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller: 4th round, to Pittsburgh

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar: 5th round

NFL.com analyst Lanze Zierlein: 4th round

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah: No. 62 on top 100

247Sports’ Lance Cartelli: 3rd round to Pittsburgh

[UPDATE: Jordan was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals with pick No. 34 in Round 4.]

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Sean Bunting • CB • Central Michigan

A graduate of Clinton Twp. Chippewa Valley, Bunting was a gray-shirt at CMU in 2015, then started every game at corner in 2016, forcing veteran starter Josh Cox inside to safety. He registered a five-interception, two-forced-fumble, 49-tackle season in 2017, then had 37 tackles (3 TFL), picked off two passes and defended five, forcing two fumbles in 2018. After declaring for the NFL Draft, he ripped off a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and a vertical jump of 41.5 inches. 

 

What they’re saying:

“Bunting has the athleticism to run better routes than the receiver and although his undisciplined mechanics lead to mistakes, he is usually in position to recover. Despite his thin build, he competes with a cover-and-clobber mentality throughout the lifespan of the route and can eliminate the mismatch advantage larger pass-catchers usually have vs. cornerbacks. … Overall, Bunting needs to get stronger and become a more technically-sound player, but he plays loose and suffocates the catch point, projecting as borderline starter as a rookie and full-time starter in year two.” — The Athletic’s Dane Brugler

 

Where he’s predicted to go:

Draft Scout: No. 9 CB, 2nd-3rd round

CBS Sports’ R.J. White: 2nd round, to Tennessee 

DraftTek: 4th round, to NY Jets

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: 2nd round, to Miami

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller: 2nd round, to Kansas City

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar: 2nd round

Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo: 3rd round, to Denver

247Sports’ Lance Cartelli: 3rd round, to Atlanta

[UPDATE: Bunting was selected by Tampa Bay with the seventh pick in Round 2.]

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Tyree Jackson • QB • Buffalo

A graduate of Muskegon Mona Shores, Jackson led the Sailors to their first league title since 1968 as a senior, when he led Mona Shores to the state finals. Grew from 5-foot-9 as a freshman to 6-4 as a senior, and now 6-7 after four years of college. He started nine games as for Buffalo as a redshirt freshman in 2016, then passed for 2,096 yards on 60-percent passing in just eight games as a sophomore, leading the Bulls to a bowl game. Last season, he led Buffalo to a program-best 10 wins, earning the Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year award, but lost in the MAC title game, and in the Dollar General Bowl, before declaring for the draft in January.

Jackson was named the MVP of the South team at the Senior Bowl, and ran the second-fastest time among QBs at the combine, despite being the tallest and biggest. 

 

What they’re saying:

"I know 6-7 is almost a negative at this point because not many guys have had success at 6-7 in the NFL. But he’s intriguing because he can move the way he moves. This guy is bright. He picks things up quickly. There’s just a lot to like about him. I think he’s gonna wind up coming off the board a little earlier than people think. I think at the latest, probably, the fourth round.” — ESPN’s Todd McShay

 

Where he’s predicted to go: 

Draft Scout: No. 5 QB, 3rd round

CBS Sports’ R.J. White: 4th round, to Detroit

DraftTek: 6th round, to Jacksonville

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: 4th round, to Detroit

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller: 3rd round, to Carolina

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar: 6th round

[UPDATE: Jackson signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.]

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Mike Weber • RB • Ohio State

Originally committed to Michigan, the four-star Detroit Cass Tech product — and the top recruit in Michigan, after rushing for 2,268 yards and 29 touchdowns in an injury-shortened senior season — flipped to Ohio State with the Wolverines’ coaching situation in flux, then nearly flipped back when U-M hired Jim Harbaugh. With Ezekiel Elliott still at OSU, Weber redshirted in 2015, then led the Buckeyes in rushing in 2016 with 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns, earning Freshman of the Year honors in the Big Ten. Freshman J.K. Dobbins supplanted Weber as the lead back in 2017, while Weber dealt with hamstring issues, and the two operated in a rotation in 2018. It shouldn’t hurt that Weber ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

 

What they’re saying: 

“Adequately skilled runner with decent size who can get what is blocked but is unlikely to find his own yards often enough at the NFL level. Weber does a nice job of spying second-level linebackers and making lane choices relative to where the defensive flow is headed. However, even when he sees it, he struggles to access enough acceleration to rip past the first two levels of tacklers. He can make the initial tackler miss but doesn’t string moves together effectively. He could have a career cap as a RB3.” — NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlien

 

Where he’s predicted to go:

Draft Scout: No. 8 RB, 3rd-4th round

CBS Sports’ R.J. White: 5th round, to Kansas City

DraftTek: 4th round, to Dallas

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: 7th round, to Kansas City

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller: 4th round, to Tampa Bay

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar: 5th round

[UPDATE: Weber was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys with the fourth pick in Round 7.] 

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Khari Willis • SS • Michigan State

A graduate of Jackson Lumen Christi, Willis was a running back for legendary coach Herb Brogan, racking up 2,800 yards on the ground and 31 touchdowns, but also played linebacker. He flipped to defense at Michigan State, starting three games as a true freshman, but broke his foot before the Big Ten title game. He started just one game in 2016, playing in 11 total, but took advantage of an open safety slot, and started the final 26 games of his MSU career. He finished with 189 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks and three interceptions, and was a two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten player on the field, and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection off the field. 

 

What they’re saying: 

“He’s a steadying force, he’s your leader, he’s kind of the quarterback of your defense. He’s a guy that you look at physically, athletically, he’s field fast, he’s instinctive, he tests out well athletically with that 34.5-inch vertical.” — ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

 

“Team leader known for his leadership and work ethic, Willis has been a reliable performer with a good nose for the football. However, he’s an average athlete with below-average speed who needs to keep plays in front of him, so finding a roster spot on the next level could be a challenge. His high football character and consistent effort level, give him a shot at finding work as a backup with special teams value.” — NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein

 

Where he’s predicted to go:

Draft Scout: No. 8 SS, 6th round

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: 6th round to Kansas City

ESPN’s Mel Kiper: 3rd round

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar: 7th round

[UPDATE: Willis was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the seventh pick of Round 4.]

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Jeremiah Harris • DE • Eastern Michigan

A graduate of Temperance Bedford, Harris started his high school career as a freshman junior varsity quarterback at Ottawa Lake Whiteford before transferring, and growing to 6-foot-3. His junior season of 73 tackles and six sacks got him noticed, and started him thinking about playing football beyond high school — and maybe beyond college. Harris was a first-team all-state defensive end as a senior, with 98 tackles to go with 14 sacks and 10 passes batted down. Over his four-plus-year EMU career (he redshirted as a sophomore after three games), he accumulated 31.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, three interceptions and three blocked kicks, forcing seven fumbles and recovering three. His teammate on the opposite end of the defensive line, Maxx Crosby, has gotten more attention, and is predicted as a mid-round pick. 

 

Draft Scout: No. 36 DE, 7th round-UDFA

[UPDATED: Harris signed with the NY Giants as an undrafted free agent.]

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John Keenoy • C • Western Michigan University

An East Kentwood grad, Keenoy played in 51 games in his WMU career, starting 50 of those at center. He enrolled early and played as a true freshman, but allowed 25 pressures and four sacks in 2015, but didn’t allow a sack for the next two seasons. The Broncos have had offensive linemen picked in the top four rounds in each of the last three drafts in Willie Beavers (4th round 2016), Taylor Moton (2nd round, 2017) and Chukwuma Okorafor (3rd round, 2018), but Keenoy was the quarterback of that unit.

 

Draft Scout: No. 11 C, high-priority free agent. 

[UPDATED: Keenoy signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent.]

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Undrafted Free Agent possibilities

Tyler Wiegers • QB • Eastern Michigan • Lake Orion/Birmingham Detroit Country Day HS

Matt Sokol • TE • Michigan State University • Rochester Adams HS [UPDATE: Signed with the L.A. Chargers as an undrafted free agent.]

Grant Perry • WR • Michigan • Birmingham Brother Rice HS

Tommy Doles • OG • Northwestern • Grand Rapids Christian HS

David Beedle • OG • Michigan State • Clarkston HS

Chuck Harris • DE • Buffalo • Southfield HS [UPDATE: Signed with Chicago as an undrafted free agent.]

 

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Tryout possibilities 

Chance Stewart • QB • Hillsdale College • Sturgis HS

Bart Williams • QB • Grand Valley State • Grand Blanc HS

Joe Conner • RB • Concordia • Flat Rock HS

Joshuwa Holloman • RB • Eastern Michigan • Auburn Hills Avondale HS

Michael Alexander • FB/H-B • Saginaw Valley State • Midland HS

Moe Ways • WR • California • Birmingham Detroit Country Day

Drake Harris • WR • Western Michigan • Grand Rapids Christian

Jeremy Hickey • OG • Eastern Michigan • Troy/Birmingham Brother Rice HS

Tommy Richardson • OG • Wayne State • Troy HS

Odell Miller • OG • Western Michigan • Richland Gull Lake HS [UPDATE: Mini-camp tryout invite.]

Drew Callahan • OG • Hillsdale • Clinton Twp. Chippewa Valley

Ryan Rockensuess • OG • Austin Peay • Troy Athens

Kyle Bambard • PK • North Carolina State • Walled Lake Western

Dylan Carroll • DE • Grand Valley State • Portland HS [UPDATE: Signed with Chicago as an undrafted free agent.]

Nate Brisson-Fast • DE • Central Michigan • Ferndale HS

Lawrence Marshall • DT • Michigan • Southfield HS [UPDATE: Signed with Chicago as an undrafted free agent.]

Anthony Pittman • ILB • Wayne State • Birmingham Groves HS

Delshawn Phillips • ILB • Illinois • Detroit Cass Tech HS [UPDATE: Signed with Atlanta as an undrafted free agent.]

Jon Reschke • ILB • Michigan State • Sterling Heights/Birmingham Brother Rice HS

Junior McMullen • ILB • Miami (OH) • Oak Park HS

Kyle Rachwal • OLB • Eastern Michigan • Lapeer East HS

Jacob Studdard • FS • Grand Valley • Southfield HS

Tim Cason • SS • Purdue • Clarkston HS