Three Michigan players could be plucked in first round

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Michigan has a few players who could be picked in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night in Philadelphia.

It’s just a matter of who will be the first Michigan player picked, defensive end Taco Charlton, linebacker/safety Jabrill Peppers or cornerback Jourdan Lewis.

Peppers, 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, is the most versatile of the trio, capable of playing safety, cornerback or linebacker.

Peppers is considered a first-round lock by many draft analysts, but some project him being selected after the first round.

“I don’t really pay attention to the positivity or the negativity," Peppers told The Detroit News during Michigan's pro day last month. "I feel as though whatever team gets me is going to be a steal. I don’t really care about what the draft experts have to say. My only concern is what these GMs and head coaches think about me. I just need the opportunity, that’s it."

Peppers was Big Ten Freshman of the Year, then was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in the secondary his sophomore year in 2015 before being named Big Ten Linebacker of the Year this past fall after getting in on 72 tackles, including 16 for loss.

Peppers, who was sidelined for the Orange Bowl with an injury, was clocked at 4.46 in the 40 at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month, fastest among linebackers, and his time would be faster than a number of strong safeties in past years, including Ha Ha Clinton-Dix who was picked in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Packers in ’14.

However, earlier this week news came out that Peppers had a diluted urine sample for his drug screening at the NFL combine. The diluted sample is treated like a positive test, so that could possibly play a role if Peppers slides in the draft.

Charlton’s play his senior year put him on the radar among first-round prospects, getting in on a team-high 9.5 sacks while earning first-team All-Big Ten honors after starting just three games in 2015 and just one his sophomore season.

Charlton, a 6-6, 277-pounder, has outstanding size and a great blend of power and quickness to make an impact in the NFL. He has been compared to former New York Giants star Justin Tuck.

Lewis, from Detroit Cass Tech, could be considered a bit undersized at 5-10 and 188 pounds, but has outstanding size and is a great competitor to more than make up for his lack of size, showing his athleticism with a one-handed interception in a victory over Wisconsin.

Lewis put himself in the spotlight his junior year, starting 13 games and breaking up 20 passes, then earned first-team All-American honors this past fall and was Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year after getting in on 25 tackles and breaking up nine passes.

However, Lewis was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence in March, which could also play a role in where and when he gets picked in the three-day draft.

If Lewis does fall in the draft, he could be among several Michigan players picked on Day 2, which includes Rounds Nos. 2 and 3. The final four rounds are set for Saturday with a possibility of a dozen or more Wolverines being picked during the weekend.

Possible second or third round picks include defensive tackle Chris Wormley, receiver Amara Darboh and tight end Jake Butt.

Wormley, a 6-4, 303-pounder, was a three-year starter and the Wolverines’ Defensive Lineman of the Year his junior and senior seasons.

Darboh has good size at 6-2 and 215 pounds, helping him earn second-team All-Big Ten honors his senior year when he had 57 receptions for 862 yards and seven TDs.

Darboh had a number of big games last fall, including a six-catch, 87-yard, TD performance in a 14-7 win over Wisconsin and an eight-reception, 165-yard effort in a 32-23 win at Michigan State.

Butt was a possible first-round pick before suffering a torn ACL in the Orange Bowl. When healthy, Butt is a strong blocker and receiver, known for his excellent route running skills.

Possible third-day picks include defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow, cornerback Channing Stribling, strong safety Delano Hill, linebacker Ben Gedeon and offensive lineman Ben Braden.

Michigan players in the NFL draft

Taco CharltonDE6-6/2771st round
Jabrill PeppersS/LB5-11/2131
Jourdan LewisCB5-10/1882
Jake ButtTE6-5/2453
Ryan GlasgowDT6-3/3004-7
Channing StriblingCB6-1/1855-6
Delano HillSS6-1/2166
Ben BradenOL6-6/3306-FA
Ben GedeonLB6-2/2406-FA
Jehu ChessonWR6-3/2057-FA
Jeremy ClarkCB6-4/2057-FA
De’Veon SmithRB5-11/2207-FA