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2024 NFL Draft: Can Michigan break Georgia's record for most players drafted?
National Football League

2024 NFL Draft: Can Michigan break Georgia's record for most players drafted?

Updated Apr. 18, 2024 6:05 p.m. ET

When Jim Harbaugh predicted last summer that Michigan would break the record for most players selected from one school in one NFL Draft year, he was met with some uncertainty and questions.

Several months and a national championship later, the record seems to be in play for the Wolverines as the 2024 NFL Draft approaches. They had 18 players invited to the combine in late February and early March. J.J. McCarthy has emerged as one of the top quarterback prospects in the draft after a strong junior season, while several of Michigan's stars on defense look primed to be selected in the first few rounds of the draft.

Harbaugh got a head start to the NFL over his players, getting hired by the Los Angeles Chargers to be their head coach in January. While he's touted McCarthy during the draft process, it's highly unlikely they draft him considering their current quarterback situation.

Every other player might be in play, and Michigan receiver Roman Wilson believes that Los Angeles could become Ann Arbor South.


"I wouldn't be surprised if like all nine of us end up going [to the Chargers]," Wilson said, referring to the team's nine draft picks, on the "NFL on FOX Podcast" earlier in April. "But seriously, like at least five or six. I think he's going to take a lot of us."

Whether that comes to fruition or not remains to be seen. But Michigan needs to have 16 players drafted in order to break the mark Georgia set in 2022 (in the seven-round era). Prior to that, LSU and Ohio State shared the record, with each having 14 players drafted in one year (LSU 2020, Ohio State 2004).

Let's take a look at each draft-eligible player from Michigan and see if that record is obtainable. 

Likely Round 1 picks

QB J.J. McCarthy: Not only is it looking like a certainty that McCarthy will be a Round 1 pick, but it also might be a lock that he'll be a top-10 pick, if not a top-five pick.

The quarterback has seemingly climbed up draft boards since the college season ended, reportedly impressing evaluators at the combine and his Pro Day over the last couple of months. FOX Sports' Joel Klatt, Nick Wright and Peter Schrager (for NFL Media) had McCarthy as a top-five selection in all of their most recent mock drafts.

While many are surprised by McCarthy's ascension, Klatt isn't. He ranked him as his 16th-best prospect in this year's class, writing that he's "higher on him than most."

"Michigan has had other teams similar to this year's team in the past, but they were missing a quarterback who could deliver in big moments," Klatt wrote. "McCarthy raised the level of the team in those moments this year, particularly against Ohio State and Alabama. When you watch the cutup of his plays from third-and-7 or longer from this past season, you begin to wonder, why isn't he a top-five player? Maybe I'm too low on McCarthy. He made those plays on third downs because he was able to extend plays or make plays on the run. That's why he's going to be great at the next level. He's also totally unselfish and doesn't get credit. Who doesn't want that in their locker room?"

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McCarthy's draft odds are on the rise as well, as it appears more likely than not that he'll be a top-five pick. If he gets selected prior to the 26th pick, he'll also hold the honor of being the highest-drafted quarterback in Michigan's history, taking that honor from Harbaugh.

Likely Day 2 picks

Beyond McCarthy, there don't seem to be any other Wolverines who are likely to be first-round selections. That might be a bit of a surprise considering they're the defending national champions, but it appears we're likely to hear many Michigan hear their names called in Rounds 2 and 3. Let's take a look at which ones are possible Day 2 selections.

DT Kris Jenkins: Jenkins was the standout player in Michigan's defensive tackle rotation, recording 37 total tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2023 to earn second-team All-American honors. Rang ranked him as the 34th-best prospect in this year's class.

"A rotational piece among the deepest defensive-tackle rotation in the country, this NFL legacy didn't rack up eye-popping statistics but the flashes of brilliance are enough to warrant first-round consideration," Rang wrote.

WR Roman Wilson: The wide receiver might be one of the biggest risers in the draft process. Wilson is a top-50 prospect on both Klatt's (No. 47) and Rang's (No. 41) big boards, possibly solidifying himself as a second-round pick even though he might have lesser numbers (48 receptions, 789 yards, 12 touchdowns in 2023) than other receivers drafted in the first two rounds.

"His production might not match the other receiver prospects in my top 50, but that's because of Michigan's system," Klatt wrote of Wilson. "The Wolverines' philosophy to win a national championship didn't emphasize throwing the ball. Even then, Wilson made some incredible plays to help Michigan last season, especially in the Rose Bowl against Alabama. He's fast; faster than people believe. He's going to be a really good receiver at the next level."

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CB Mike Sainristil: Another riser, Sainristil is also expected to hear his name be called in the early rounds of the draft even though he's only played cornerback for two seasons. Klatt ranked him as the 49th prospect in the draft while Rang ranked him as the 94th overall prospect in the draft.

"He was the best defender on the best defense in college football, and he's only played defense full-time for two years," Klatt wrote of Sainristil. "His ceiling is ridiculously high because he's a hybrid player — he can play within the interior of the passing game, and he won't be intimidated by matchups. He's constantly around the ball."

Mike Sainristil & Ladd McConkey in Klatt’s top 50 players in 2024 draft

Sainristil had six interceptions last season, including one in Michigan's title game win.

LB Junior Colson: The linebacker was one of the best defensive players in the Big Ten over the last two seasons, earning two all-Big Ten nods. He was also a key cog for Michigan's stout defense, recording 196 combined tackles over the last two seasons.

While off-ball linebacker isn't as valuable of a position, both Klatt (No. 44) and Rang (No. 39) ranked Colson as a top-50 prospect in the draft.

"In a relatively weak year for off-ball linebackers, Colson stands out as a bit of a throwback and a traditional run-stuffer in the middle with the speed to beat backs to the flanks," Rang wrote of Colson.

RB Blake Corum: Michigan's top star is making his way to the NFL, seemingly as a Day 2 pick. Corum wasn't ranked in Klatt or Rang's prospect rankings, but NFL Mock Draft Database (which compiles draft big boards from notable publications and evaluators) has Corum ranked as the 71st overall prospect on its consensus big board.

After breaking Michigan's all-time record for rushing touchdowns (58) and rushing for 2,708 yards over the last two seasons, Corum was ranked as Klatt's second-best running back in this year's class.

"Corum tested, performed and worked out incredibly well at the combine. His tape speaks for itself, so no concern there," Klatt wrote.

"When you look at what Corum does well, he's going to succeed just as long as he's in the right scheme," Klatt added. "He's an incredibly smooth runner, and he's got that little glide step toward the line of scrimmage. He was great in gap, duo and zone schemes."

Blake Corum and Bucky Irving in Joel Klatt’s top five running backs

Harbaugh's Chargers are actually the betting favorites to draft Corum, holding +190 odds to select the running back.

Possible Day 3 picks

If Michigan is going to break Georgia's record for the most players selected in one draft, many Wolverines are going to have to come off the board on Day 3. Of course, they had 18 players get invited to the combine for a reason, making it possible they can get over the Bulldogs' 15 from 2022 to set the record. But Georgia had nine players selected in the first three rounds in 2022 (five first-round picks) while LSU had 10 players selected in the first three rounds in 2020 and Ohio State had seven players selected in that span in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Let's take a look at some of the possible Day 3 picks from Michigan. 

G Zak Zinter: The 2023 unanimous All-American might have been viewed as a possible higher draft pick had he not broken his tibia and fibula during the game against Ohio State last season. That ended his college career, but he's expected to make a full recovery as he told reporters at Michigan's Pro Day in March that he was cleared for all activity. However, he said he was working back up to full strength at the time.

Zinter is ranked 113th on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board, which could make him a fourth-round pick.

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TE A.J. Barner: Showcasing how deep Michigan was this past season, its No. 2 seems to be a likely draft pick. Barner didn't put up flashy numbers at Michigan in 2023 after transferring from Indiana, recording 22 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown. But his 6-foot-6 frame could make him an enticing depth piece at tight end, which might be why he's ranked 162nd on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board.

WR Cornelius Johnson: Even though Michigan didn't attack much in the passing game, Johnson put up decent stats as a No. 2 receiver, recording 47 receptions for 604 yards and a touchdown last year. He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine, was in the middle of the pack among receiver prospects. He ranks 186th overall on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board, which could make him a sixth-round pick. 

G Trevor Keegan: The other standout guard on Michigan's offensive line, Keegan also figures to possibly be a late-round pick. He made an All-Big Ten team in each of the last two seasons, helping the Wolverines win the Joe Moore Award twice during his time in Ann Arbor. He ranks 211th on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board.

EDGE Braiden McGregor: While he was a starter this past season, McGregor was one of the many players Michigan rotated along the edge. He had 4.5 sacks last season, with two of them coming in its Rose Bowl win over Alabama. He ranks 194th on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board.

EDGE Jaylen Harrell: Another possible late-round option, Harrell also impressed along the edge in Ann Arbor last year, recording a team-high 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He ranks 215 on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board.

So far, we've named 12 Michigan players who seem like they have a good chance of being drafted. But it gets a little murky after that as all but one of the other Michigan players rank below 250 on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus big board. 

It'd obviously need three more if the aforementioned players all get drafted, with linebacker Michael Barrett being the most noteworthy name of the group. Other possible prospects include offensive linemen Drake Nugent, Ladarius Henderson, Karsen Barnhart and Trente Jones, with Michigan likely needing three of those to be drafted in order for it to break the record.

Of course, that's not to say Michigan can't break the record. But it looks like it'll come down to the final round, which wasn't the case for Georgia in 2022. All 15 Bulldogs players selected that year were drafted in the first six rounds. 


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