Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Michigan Football, the NFL Draft, and The Oscars

In case you had not heard, the Academy Awards and the NFL scouting combine were both held this weekend. Neither was particularly popular with the viewing audiences. However, the Oscars were popular with actors, and the combine was popular with Mel Kiper. Here is the Oscar version of Michigan's top potential draftees in April's NFL draft:

Shawn Crable

While Crable undoubtedly made some awesome plays in his Michigan career, many Wolverine fans will remember him for some of his more boneheaded plays: against App State, allowing his man to shoot right thru to block the potential game winning FG; against OSU in 2006, the helmet-to-helmet hit against Troy Smith that prolonged the Buckeyes' game-clinching drive and led to their appearance in the BCS championship game. I'm sure there are more - didn't he have a couple personal fouls against Wisconsin this year? Anyway, Crable cannot make up for his boneheaded plays for Michigan, but maybe he can achieve some sort of atonement with a good NFL career. Michigan has recently become a sort of "linebacker U," with David Harris, Larry Foote, Victor Hobson, Cato June, Shantee Orr, Roy Manning, Lamar Woodley, Dhani Jones, Pierre Woods, and Prescott Burgess all making contributions to NFL squads. Harris had a great rookie season, including a 24-tackle game in midseason.

Chad Henne

Henne's kinda sneaking up on people as the sleeper QB in this draft (if a Michigan QB could ever be considered a "sleeper"). Much like Juno receiving an unexpected Academy Award nomination, Henne could be a solid first day NFL draft pick. He's had four years of college starting experience, seems smart, and has a strong, if sometimes erratic, throwing arm. He's got "career backup with the occasional spot start" written all over him. See John Navarre, Todd Collins. Potential floor - Drew Henson. Potential ceiling - Elvis Grbac.

“Michael Clayton”
Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington

There are two Claytons in the NFL, and both are wide receivers (Michael and Mark). Both were first rounders, and both have largely been disappointments. I get the feeling that these two guys are going to follow in the footsteps of several Michigan WRs that have flopped in the NFL. Neither is fast, and speed is what the NFL wants. Neither will go as high as the second round. I think Arrington, due to his size and great hands, will have a better career, but nothing too spectacular. Maybe kind of Amani Toomer-esque. Manningham may not have the work ethic required to make it in the league. He's destined to be drafted by Matt Millen, and be out of the league by year three.

“No Country for Old Men”
Mike Hart

I love Mike Hart. My man crush is well documented. I think he's going to surprise a lot of people in the NFL. However, his showing at the NFL combine was not too good, as his 40 time was pretty slow. You might say he ran like an old man. But the NFL is no country for old men. But the movie won the Oscar, and Mike Hart just might turn out to be the best NFL player of all the Michigan skill position players this year. He won't be drafted before the third round. I don't recall Emmitt Smith having breakaway speed either. Hart has great vision, and in the right offense, he could thrive. Also, like Anton Chigurh, Mike Hart is a remorseless killing machine.

“There Will Be Blood”
Jake Long

Of all of the Michigan players in this year's draft, Jake is the best bet to be a star in the NFL. He is a strong, nasty blocker and will have a long career as a protector of quarterbacks. Defensive linemen who challenge his manliness will be turned away with extreme prejudice. There will indeed be blood. Hopefully he's a little more like Steve Hutchinson, and lot less like Tony Pape. He's a lock to be a top five pick.

So, there you have it. Further proof that I can relate anything to Michigan football, no matter how tangentially related it might be.

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