Day 3 sees 4 more Michigan players selected in NFL Draft

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Former Michigan linebacker Cam McGrone, fullback Ben Mason, running back Chris Evans, and long snapper Camaron Cheeseman learned their NFL destinations during Day 3 of the NFL Draft.

McGrone, still recovering from surgery to repair a torn knee ligament, took a chance on himself and decided to leave Michigan with eligibility remaining, and it paid off when he was selected No. 177 by the New England Patriots on Saturday. He will be reunited with Michigan teammates, Chase Winovich, Michael Onwenu and Josh Uche, all with the Patriots.

Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.

With the last pick of the fifth round, the Baltimore Ravens selected Mason. He played in college for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and now will play for older brother, John Harbaugh.

In the sixth round, Evans was selected No. 202 by the Cincinnati Bengals, and Cheeseman, who opted out of the 2020 season when he was not extended a scholarship, became the second long snapper taken in the draft when Washington picked him 225th overall. In the last six drafts, one long snapper has been taken each year, but Cheeseman (6-4, 239) joined Alabama's Thomas Fletcher, who was picked by Carolina.

Former Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye was a first-round selection Thursday night, going to Indianapolis with the No. 21 overall pick, extending Michigan’s streak to three-straight drafts with a first-round pick. It was a busy third round for Michigan players, as tackle Jalen Mayfield, receiver Nico Collins, and cornerback Ambry Thomas all were drafted Friday night.

Michigan had eight of 11 draft-eligible candidates drafted. Nick Eubanks, Carlo Kemp, and Quinn Nordin went undrafted. Eubanks signed as a free agent late Saturday with the Dallas Cowboys, where he will join former Michigan tight end Sean McKeon, and Kemp, a two-time captain, signed with the Green Bay Packers.

McGrone, 6-1, 236, made 15 career starts, including five last season, before his season was cut short after suffering a torn ACL. He finished his career with 92 tackles, including 66 in 2019, and had 11.5 tackles for loss. McGrone, now four months out from surgery, did not do any of the drills during Michigan’s Pro Day last month.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has said he considered McGrone one of the “underrated guys” in the draft..

“I like McGrone,” Kiper said last month. “He gets to the football. He’s got good diagnostic ability. He plays with toughness. He’s got that knack you look for in linebacker to be able to sift through and get through traffic and make plays.”

During an interview with reporters before Pro Day, McGrone said he didn’t waver when it came to his decision to go pro.

“I was really ready to become a professional,” McGrone said. “What better chance than now? I was really confident in my ability and I was really just ready to make this dream a reality.”

After Mason's selection, ESPN analyst Todd McShay raved.

"They've got one of the toughest dudes in this draft," he said.

Mason, in an interview with Ravens beat writers on Saturday, said he's "very versatile" and takes special teams "extremely seriously". He was asked to share his approach to playing.

"My mental process is I'm the baddest dude on the field at all times, and I'm going to play that that and think like that," Mason said.

Kiper has called the 6-foot-3, 256-pound Mason the best pure fullback in the draft. Also during his college career he played on the defensive line and on special teams.

“Ben Mason is the throwback,” Kiper said in a conference call last month. “In terms of blocking and doing the things there to help your football team, help your running back, in the right system, yeah, I’d take Ben Mason. If you’re looking for the traditional, old-school, throwback fullback, it would be certainly Ben Mason.”

Evans is versatile as a runner and also as a receiver out of the backfield and rushed for 1,795 yards on 320 carries and had 15 touchdowns during his career while adding 392 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He was suspended a year by the university of unspecified "academic reasons" and missed the 2019 season.

He was reinstated for the 2020 season but didn’t get much playing time in Michigan’s six games. He had 16 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown and also 160 yards on nine catches and a receiving touchdown. Evans also was a special teams contributor.

At Pro Day, Evans ran a 4.44 (hand time) 40-yard dash and had a vertical of 40.5.

Twitter: @chengelis