The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2018 THE WOLVERINE 9 In early February, the NFL announced which college players were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and that list included three members of the Michigan football program. Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, fifth- year senior linebacker Mike McCray and senior offensive lineman Mason Cole will all participate at this year 's event, which runs from Feb. 27 to March 5. analyst Lance Zierlein gave Cole — who is listed as a center — a grade of 5.56 (which falls in the backup or eventual starter range), and projected him to be a third- or fourth-round pick. The second-team All-Big Ten pick in both 2016 and 2017 played both left tackle and center at Michigan, but his size indicates he is better fit for the interior of the line at the next level. "[Cole is a] consistent center prospect with some posi- tion flexibility and incredible durability dating all the way back to his high school days," Zierlein wrote. "Cole relies on athleticism over power and will have to improve his hand usage and balance in order to match up against the talent he will see on the next level. "While he has two years of starting experience at tackle, he's too inconsistent in protection to hold up there for very long. Cole could become an early starter, but his ceil- ing might not be higher than average starter." Hurst has a draft grade of 6.0 (chance to become a good NFL starter), and is expected to be picked in the first or second round. Zierlein noted that Hurst will fit best in a 4-3 system as a three-technique defensive tackle and, ac- cording to an AFC scout, will be hard to block if he ends up with the right defensive coordinator. "Hurst is an up-field three-technique who gets out of the blocks ahead of his competition as soon as the starter's pistol goes off," Zierlein noted. "His ability to come out fast and low should create opportunities to become a disruptive penetrator, but he has to prove that he has the strength to play through redirect blocks and hold up against NFL interior linemen." McCray is listed as a possible fourth- or fifth-round pick with a grade of 5.45 (backup or eventual starter, like Cole). His limited ability in pass coverage and lack of speed could cause him to drop on draft boards, but McCray is still a steady run defender and could fit well in a 3-4 scheme as a backup linebacker. He is viewed as a possible fourth- or fifth-round pick. "He has most of what you want in a linebacker, but he just can't run well," an NFC Director of Scouting was quoted as saying. "McCray is a big, physical inside linebacker who plays with most of the characteristics evaluators want from an inside linebacker, but his limited range could hurt his draft stock," Zierlein wrote. "McCray could be a consid- eration for 3-4 teams looking to pair a big body next to an athlete at inside linebacker, but he'll need to come off the field on passing downs. "If healthy, McCray could become a backup linebacker with a chance to work himself into starting contention down the road." — Andrew Vailliencourt Inside Michigan ATHLETICS Three Wolverines Invited To NFL Combine Mason Cole was an All-Big Ten second-team honoree as a senior left tackle, but he'll play along the interior in the NFL. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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