Thrice as nice: UM's Jalen Mayfield, Nico Collins, Ambry Thomas selected in third round
It was a big third round for former Michigan players as Jalen Mayfield, Nico Collins and Ambry Thomas were all selected on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
Former Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye was a first-round selection Thursday night, going to Indianapolis with the No. 21 overall pick. He extended Michigan’s streak to three straight drafts with a first-round pick, but there were no Wolverines taken in the second round Friday.
Seven draft-eligible Wolverines remain. The draft concludes Saturday with Rounds 4-7.
Mayfield went to Atlanta with the 68th overall pick, Collins was 89th to Houston, and Thomas went to San Francisco at 102nd overall.
Mayfield (6-foot-5, 326 pounds) started all 13 games in 2019 at right tackle. He initially opted out before last season but then decided to return to the Wolverines. He played two games before suffering a high ankle sprain that sidelined him the rest of the season.
With 15 starts on his resume, he offered a small sample size of game experience for NFL scouts. A pre-draft camera shot showed Mayfield, a Grand Rapids native, apparently at his high school, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, to watch the Day 2 selections.
Before the pro day at Michigan last month, Mayfield said he sees himself fitting in at tackle in the NFL, but that could change. Mayfield told Atlanta reporters Friday that he would have no problem moving inside if needed and said he has been practicing snapping on his own.
“During the meetings, I told them that I was confident in playing all five positions,” Mayfield said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m somebody who is a very smart kid. I can adapt to anything that’s thrown at me. I feel like the more versatile that I am, the better chance I have to get on the field right away. I’m coming in with an open mind. I don’t know where I‘ll play.”
Collins (6-4, 215) and Thomas opted out of the 2020 season to train for the NFL Draft.
During Michigan's pro day, Collins ran a hand-timed 4.43 40-yard dash. The Texans traded up with Carolina to take Collins in the third round, giving up a fourth- and fifth-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick in 2022.
At Houston, Collins will be reunited with quarterbacks coach/pass-game coordinator Pep Hamilton, who held that role at Michigan in 2017 and 2018.
"Coach Pep recruited me, he was really invested in me," Collins told SportsRadio 610 in Houston not long after he was drafted.
Collins was asked to share some insight into his game.
"I'm reliable, I love my teammates," he said. "I'm coming in to win."
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, who is also a college sideline analyst, worked several Michigan games in 2019 and came away impressed by Collins.
"He wasn’t always utilized properly, but he can get down the field and accelerate so quickly for a receiver with his size,” McShay said. “He’s big, and he’s fast. He’s not a great route runner in terms of getting in and out of breaks, but as a vertical route runner, he’s a guy who can stretch the field and put a lot of pressure on defenses."
Thomas (5-11, 191), a Detroit native, had four career interceptions, including three in 2019. He told reporters before Michigan's pro day he didn't believe sitting out in 2020 hurt him.
“I was the No. 1 cover cornerback (returning) in the Big Ten before I decided to opt-out, and I still am,” Thomas said. “I truly believe that I’m a top-five cornerback, without a doubt."
During a lighter moment late in the second round, former Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary announced the Packers' pick.
"Josh Myers, center, Ohio State. Go Blue, though," he said as he gave a thumbs up and grinned.
Also drafted in the third round by Washington was former Wolverine defensive back Ben St-Juste, who played his final two seasons at Minnesota. Michigan said St-Juste had medically retired from football, but he said that was never the case.
Several Michigan players are available for the final day of the draft, including Chris Evans, Nick Eubanks, Ben Mason, Cam McGrone, Carlo Kemp, Camaron Cheeseman and Quinn Nordin.