The Wolverine


The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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20 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2020 BY AUSTIN FOX M ichigan head coach Jim Harbaugh produced the best NFL Draft class in school history in 2017 when 11 of his players were selected, and he nearly matched that record- setting total in this year's edition. Ten Wolverines heard their names called in the 2020 NFL Draft, held virtually from April 23-25, match- ing 1972 and 1974 as the second-best classes in U-M history. The Maize and Blue's haul tied Ohio State for the second-most players selected from any college, trailing only the 14 that LSU produced. Alabama checked in fourth with nine, while Clemson, Florida, Georgia and Utah were the only other programs who were even able to muster seven. It also extended the Wolverines' streak of having at least one prospect drafted to 82 straight years, dating all the way back to 1939 (tied with USC for the longest streak in the nation). The action was minimal for U-M through the first two days, when the opening three rounds were held, as center Cesar Ruiz and linebacker Josh Uche were the only two Michi- gan Men to hear their names called, coming off the board in the first round to the New Orleans Saints and in the second round to the New Eng- land Patriots, respectively. Offensive guard Ben Bredeson went next to the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round, before the intensity finally picked up when seven U-M athletes were chosen in rounds five and six. The offensive linemen were the po- sition that stole the headlines for the Maize and Blue, with four of them coming off the board — Ruiz, Brede- son, guard Mike Onwenu (sixth round to the New England Patri- ots) and tackle Jon Runyan Jr. (sixth round to the Green Bay Packers, who announced him as a guard). No other college matched Michigan's four of- fensive linemen selected this year, and no school has ever had more in a single draft. All but three of the Wolverines' 13 draftable prospects heard their names called, with cornerback La- vert Hill, tight end Sean McKeon and quarterback Shea Patterson being the lone exceptions. Another stellar draft class increased the average number of players Har- baugh has seen picked per year during his five seasons in Ann Arbor to 6.2, which outpaces his predecessors in a big way. Brady Hoke (2011-14) saw 2.7 chosen per year, while Rich Rodriguez (2008-10) was at just 2.3, Lloyd Carr (1995-2007) averaged 4.6 and Gary Moeller (1990-94) posted a 5.0 clip. FRONT LINE LEADS THE WAY With four offensive linemen com- ing off the board in this year's draft, the quad of Ruiz, Bredeson, Onwenu and Runyan formed arguably the single best draft haul Michigan has ever seen among its front five. Ruiz was the headliner of the bunch, coming off the board in the first round at No. 24 overall to the Saints and signifying the 48th first- round draft pick in U-M history. He was also the first Wolverine offensive lineman to go in the opening round since tackle Taylor Lewan went No. 14 overall to the Tennessee Titans in 2014, and just the 11th U-M offensive lineman to ever be chosen in the ini- tial stanza. "He's very athletic and has a very high football IQ, so he's very football CHURNING OUT NFL TALENT Michigan Nearly Ties The School Record For Most Players Taken In A Single Draft Centers don't often go in the first round, but Cesar Ruiz was viewed as the top interior line- man in the draft by most experts and was selected 24th overall by the New Orleans Saints. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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