Amid uncertainty, Michigan right tackle Jalen Mayfield declares for NFL Draft

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan will now have to replace five starters on the offensive line when the Wolverines next play football.

Jalen Mayfield, who started at right tackle last season, has declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, citing the uncertainty of the last few weeks that culminated with the Big Ten canceling the fall season as the impetus for this decision. He revealed the decision Tuesday on social media.

Jalen Mayfield

“These last few weeks have been filled with stress and have put me in a place where I have a difficult decision to make,” Mayfield wrote in a social media post. “With that being said, I have decided to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.”

Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten will not play this fall after the Big Ten last week canceled all fall sports. While the conference apparently is trying to schedule a spring season, there are no guarantees. Mayfield’s departure is the first among Michigan upperclassmen who could opt to leave to prepare for the NFL Draft now that there is no season.

More:Michigan football parents demand reversal of Big Ten decision in letter to Schlissel, Warren

Mayfield and Andrew Stueber were locked in a tight competition during preseason camp last fall, and after Stueber suffered a season-ending knee injury, Mayfield became the starter.

He was so impressive in 13 stars, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper ranked Mayfield No. 14 on his Big Board back in May.

"There is some projection here because Mayfield has started only 13 college games at right tackle," Kiper wrote at the time of his ranking. "But I really liked what I saw from him in the biggest games, including when he was lined up against No. 2 overall pick Chase Young in the Wolverines' loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale.

"Mayfield has some upside, and I'll be watching closely this season."

More:Critics wonder whether Big Ten actually conducted vote to cancel football season

Mayfield, a Grand Rapids native, thanked coaches Jim Harbaugh and offensive line coach Ed Warinner in his post

"Ever since I could remember Michigan football had a special place in my heart," Mayfield wrote. "The opportunity I had here at Michigan was truly a blessing. There is no better feeling than putting on that iconic helmet and running out of that tunnel every Saturday."

Four of Michigan’s five offensive line starters during the 2019 season were selected in the NFL Draft earlier this year. Warinner will now have a complete rebuild.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis