A closer look at the 11 Michigan players at the NFL Combine

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

The invite-only NFL Scouting Combine is the place where draft prospects can enhance their stock through performances in individual drills and interviews, or give interested teams reasons to stay away.

Among the more than 300 NFL draft-eligible players are 11 from Michigan who will participate in the combine in Indianapolis this week. Michigan and Ohio State are tied for second-most combine participants behind LSU, which has 16.

Former Michigan center Cesar Ruiz could be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.

Media interviews begin Tuesday and the NFL Network will begin airing combine drills for four days starting Thursday. The NFL Draft in Las Vegas is April 23-25.

Here’s a look at the 11 Michigan players taking part in the combine and where they might get drafted.

Cesar Ruiz, OL, 6-4, 319

From all accounts, Ruiz just might be the highest draft pick among the Michigan players. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Ruiz plays with “great awareness” and maybe doesn’t have the quickest feet, but is impressive at the point of contact. He said Ruiz is steady and a “know-exactly-what-you're-getting player who can get a chance to be a Pro Bowl-caliber center.” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Ruiz going late in the first round, and has versatility, having played at right guard early in his college career before moving to center the last two years.

Projected draft position: Rounds 1-2

Josh Uche, LB, 6-1, 241

Uche has made himself one of the more intriguing players to watch in the upcoming draft. Uche had 35 tackles last season, including 11.5 tackles for loss (one off team leader Kwity Paye) and a team-best 8.5 sacks. Jeremiah said Uche has a motor that “jumps out to you. … I think he's just a really good football player, and I like kind of the edge that he plays with.” Kiper said, because of his pass-rush ability, he could possibly jump into the last first round.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that a hamstring injury suffered at the Senior Bowl will keep Uche out of drills at the combine, but he will still participate in interviews and his physical.

Projected draft position: Rounds 2-3

More: Rivals in college, Uche, Willekes chase same goal of becoming NFL pass rusher

Ben Bredeson, OL 6-5, 316

The two-time captain made 46 starts at left guard during his Michigan career. He helped lead an offensive line that went from being considered a weak point to a strength, especially the last two seasons under position coach Ed Warinner. Kiper said Bredeson is “arguably the best” pure guard in the draft. Jeremiah said Bredeson has great size but said he has some “balance issues” and has him as a Day 3 pick.

Projected draft position: Rounds 3-4

Michigan cornerback Lavert Hill had three interceptions and 10 pass breakups last season.

Lavert Hill, CB, 5-11, 182

The knock on Hill might be his size, but he is a proven strength in coverage. He had three interceptions and 10 pass breakups last season. Kiper said there is a question of Hill’s “physicality.” How he performs in testing at the combine would definitely adjust the wide range in potential draft spots for him.

Projected draft position: Rounds 3-5

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, 6-2, 208

There’s no doubt Peoples-Jones, who missed the first few games last season with injury, has talent. Peoples-Jones was third on the team in receiving with 438 yards and six touchdowns. Kiper found him too inconsistent to give a high draft projection in a deep receiver class, and Jeremiah described him as “not real dynamic.” A strong showing at the combine, particularly how he runs, could bump him into the second-day (rounds 2-3).

Projected draft position: Rounds 4-5

Michigan tight end Sean McKeon had 235 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season.

Sean McKeon, TE, 6-5, 230

McKeon was the Wolverines' best all-around tight end and was noted for his blocking ability. He finished sixth on the team in receiving with 235 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy said before the bowl last month that McKeon is a “versatile big-body tight end,” which makes him valuable to NFL teams.

Projected draft position: Rounds 5-7

Jon Runyan, OL, 6-5, 321

Runyan was steady at left tackle the last two seasons and earned All-Big Ten first-team honors the last two years. He has good genes, considering his father, former Wolverine Jon Runyan, had a lengthy NFL career at tackle.

Projected draft position: Rounds 5-7

Josh Metellus, S, 5-11, 210

Metellus finished last season with 74 tackles, third on the team, two interceptions and five pass breakups. Kiper said the combine is important for the safety, in particular, how he runs. Nagy said last month that Metellus made considerable strides at Michigan and became a more physical and aggressive player.

Projected draft position: Rounds 6-7

Khaleke Hudson, LB, 5-11, 220

Hudson led the team with 102 tackles, and had 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and three pass breakups last season. The issue for Hudson is where NFL teams see him fitting. He is caught between playing linebacker and safety, but scouts say he flies around and makes plays. Hudson should make a team and initially be used in special teams.

Projected draft position: Rounds 6/priority free agent

Michael Onwenu, OL, 6-3, 350

Onwenu made his most progress at right guard his final season with the Wolverines. He is strong and light on his feet, but most analysts see him initially working on special teams.

Projected draft position: Rounds 6/priority free agent

Shea Patterson, QB 6-1, 202

Opinions on Patterson’s draft stock vary by analysts. Patterson, who played for four offensive coordinators during a career which began at Ole Miss, started the last two seasons at Michigan and threw for 5,661 yards and had 45 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He threw for 3,061 yards and 23 touchdowns against eight interceptions last season. Patterson also ran for 323 yards on 163 carries and scored seven rushing touchdowns at Michigan.

Projected draft position: Rounds 6/priority free agent


Twitter: @chengelis