Scouting the Big Ten: Michigan

The Wolverines look to bounce back from what was a very mediocre campaign in 2002. The 2003 version is a typical UM team; big on the offensive front, small yet explosive on defense and a roster with a bunch of good pro-prospects.

Can John Navarre improve his game and make the big leap up draft boards some think is possible? Possibly, but we tend to lean against that thought. Navarre is a big, heady, deliberate pocket passer that scans the field and finds the open wide out. Rarely making bad choices, he takes what the defense gives him and does not force the play. His overall accuracy is solid as is the arm strength but Navarre does not excite one as a team leader or give the impression he'll carry a squad on his back. Post-season workouts are very important in determining his final draft ranking.

Chris Perry is a solid interior runner with both vision and power but not a back that can create or beat opponents around the corner. A big season will boost his ranking.

Physically, not many compare to Braylon Edwards, the big, strong receiver with deceptive deep speed. Edwards manhandles defenders to make the difficult catch, then breaks tackles gaining yardage afterwards. His overall receiving skills need a lot of work though as Edwards is prone to dropping the easy pass, runs terrible routes and must pick the overall wherewithal of his game. Edwards's drops against Iowa and a poor pass inference penalty against Ohio State may have cost Michigan a chance at the Big Ten title last year. As usual, Michigan has top blocking prospects.

Tackle Tony Pape has done a solid job on both sides of the line and is a dominant run blocker that protects the passer well. Pape seemed to add bulk and stiffen up last year and was not as effective on the blind side yet a good senior campaign coupled with a solid post-season could move him into the top 32, ala Jeff Backus.

David Baas is a blocker that really impressed us last season. Like Pape, he is a powerful run blocker that opens alleyways for his backs and the junior plays with a nasty attitude. Not overly effective in space, he may be limited to only a few blocking schemes but definitely has first day potential in 2005.

At center, Dave Pearson explodes off the snap, which gives opponents fits, but lacks the great bulk or strength to open up the middle. Defensively the star of the show is corner Marlin Jackson, an explosive athlete with the skill to shut down opposing receivers. Jackson's corner techniques are on the money as are his physical abilities. Though he needs a little more experience, Jackson is destined for the top ten when he enters the draft.

Carl Diggs is a forceful linebacking prospect that can play in the middle or on the strong-side and good forty times next March could place him in the middle rounds.

Zack Kaufman plays with a good degree of intelligence but lacks the flat out athleticism while corner Jeremy LeSeuer could jump into the late rounds with a good season.

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