Michigan football’s win over Washington in the 2024 National Championship Game in Houston showcased Coach Jim Harbaugh’s many NFL Draft prospects for this spring’s 2024 NFL Draft in downtown Detroit, MI.
A surprising set of first round projections were released for Michigan QB JJ McCarthy. An out-of-this-world stat on Michigan lineman Trevor Keegan was revealed that could have him skyrocketing up draft boards.
The Wolverines are expected to have 21 draft eligible players when the NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 27.
Here are the top ten Wolverines players available for selection based on how well they will do in their first five years in the National Football League:
10. Drake Nugent-
Nugent is a powerful blocker and former Stanford transfer who held up well all season in the interior of the offensive line.
He’s been described as having a maniacal work ethic which could set him apart from the other candidates for the bottom part of this list. Nugent is a very good run blocker and pass blocker. He’s hard to move off of his spots and almost never had a bad snap, something Michigan fans know all too well can sink a team based on what happened with Alabama’s center Seth McLaughlin in the Rose Bowl.
9. Zak Zinter-
An All-American before breaking his leg against Ohio State in Michigan football’s final regular season game, Zinter has all of the tools to become one of the best guards in the NFL.
He will have to overcome his challenging injury first. The prediction here is that Zinter learns a lot from his injury setback and comes back stronger than ever. Placing him this low on the list just illustrates how incredibly talented and accomplished this class of Wolverines players has been over the past four to five years.
8. Roman Wilson-
Typically described as the fastest player on Michigan’s team, Wilson played his best in the biggest games.
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Roman Wilson makes an UNBELIEVABLE catch to put Michigan up 7-0 over Nebraska pic.twitter.com/yFz2Zld9XE
— Lukas Galecki-Shofroth (@TGNCoverage) September 30, 2023
His trap-the-football-against-a-defender’s-helmet touchdown catch vs. Indiana will go down as one of the most difficult in Michigan football history. Some NFL coaches may consider Wilson undersized.
He will go on to have a fantastic career regardless of whether he’s drafted early or late.
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7. Mike Sainristil-
A former wide receiver, Sainristil was so good at intercepting passes and running them back in the other direction that he would have ranked 42nd among all Big Ten receivers if his interception return yardage had qualified.
Sainristil is listed at 5-foot-10. He looks smaller and plays bigger. It’s hard to imagine him not having an impactful career at the next level based on his skill and clutch play with the Wolverines.
6. Michael Barrett-
A steady and determined team leader, Barrett almost always did his job and never complained with the Wolverines. The 2024 NFL Draft prospect could be the biggest sleeper in the mid to late rounds if he isn’t taken in the first three rounds.
Barrett is equally comfortable playing near the line of scrimmage as he is in space. He has soft hands to intercept passes and an incredible burst for getting after the quarterback in a hurry.
5. Junior Colson-
Colson was a rock for the Michigan defense during all of his years in Ann Arbor. The Tennessee native plays hard, fast and low to the ground. He rarely misses tackles, is a high character guy and excels in coverage. Expect to see him in the Pro Bowl some time over the course of his first five seasons.
4. Blake Corum-
Corum seemingly has everything going for him, from speed to quickness to toughness, to charisma to moves. The one knock on him come draft time will be his height.
Corum wore a Barry Sanders jersey into the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena before scoring the game winning touchdown against the Crimson Tide. He won’t have Barry’s impact at the next level but multiple Pro Bowls are not out of the question.
3. Trevor Keegan-
A team captain, Keegan is the most menacing and intimidating of all of the Wolverines’ players, which is probably why Coach Jim Harbaugh sent him out for the coin toss each game.
The 6-foot-6, 320 pound Keegan is a force while moving and pulling on running plays. He played 360 pass blocking snaps in 2024 and gave up zero sacks. He gave up just one quarterback hit.
With his size and mobility, Keegan is bound for the Pro Bowl.
2. Kris Jenkins-
An outgoing, gregarious personality along the defensive line, Jenkins made his presence felt at the defensive tackle position in every game this season. His size, versatility and ability to hold up at the point of attack vs. much bigger players made him a fan favorite.
Jenkins is destined for a ten-year-plus NFL career and many accoloades.
1. JJ McCarthy-
With just one loss to his name in college, McCarthy went out as the young man Harbaugh described as the best quarterback in Michigan history.
McCarthy doesn’t fit the mold of any previous Michigan quarterbacks. His light feet and ability to switch between game manager and game manager could have him selected in the top ten of this year’s draft if he has a positive performance at the 2024 NFL Draft combine.
He may not end up surpassing Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in the record books when his career’s all said and done, but McCarthy will win lots of games and should win at least one Super Bowl over the course of his NFL career.