NFL draft will include many Michigan men, maybe enough to break record set by 2022 Georgia Bulldogs

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FILE - Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) rolls out during the second half of the Rose Bowl CFP NCAA semifinal college football game against Alabama Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in Pasadena, Calif. McCarthy is a possible first round pick in the NFL Draft.(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong, File)

ANN ARBOR, Mich.J.J. McCarthy is expected to be the first of many Michigan men drafted from its national championship team.

The Wolverines had a record 18 players at the combine, giving them a chance to be the first school with at least 16 prospects picked in one NFL draft.

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“We definitely have a shot because we have some great players on the team — and we won the natty,” running back Blake Corum said. “We could break the record.”

Georgia's 2022 national championship team set the standard since the draft went to seven rounds in 1994 with 15 players picked, including a record-tying five first-round selections, in the 2023 draft.

McCarthy may be Michigan's only player taken among the top 32 next Thursday night in Detroit and some expect him to be among the top five picks after teams have gotten to know him off the field.

“This process is so unique,” McCarthy said. “They put you through so many different loops and hoops.”

A handful of McCarthy's teammates are projected to be picked in the second or third round next Friday night while many more will follow in the fourth through seventh rounds.

Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, linebacker Junior Colson, defensive back Mike Sainristil, receiver Roman Wilson and Corum are candidates to get drafted in the second round.

Offensive linemen Zak Zinter and defensive end Braiden McGregor may go in the next wave of maize and blue, perhaps getting picked in the fourth or fifth round.

Sixth- and seventh-round selections could include edge rusher Jaylen Harrell, receiver Cornelius Johnson, linebacker Michael Barrett, tight end AJ Barner and offensive linemen Trevor Keegan and LaDarius Henderson.

“It just goes to show how many dogs we got on this team, and how many people are willing to play the role and humble themselves,” Jenkins said. “It’s special.”

The AP's mock draft has McCarthy going at No. 8 overall. The Athletic listed 14 players from Michigan in a seven-round mock draft.

If those players are picked along with All-Big Ten center and Rimington Trophy finalist Drake Nugent, the Wolverines will tie the Bulldogs' mark.

And if at least one of three others who were invited to the combine — offensive linemen Trente Jones and Karsen Barnhart along with defensive back Josh Wallace — are drafted, Michigan will set a new mark.

“Walking around, you couldn't do a 360 in Indianapolis without seeing a bunch of Michigan guys — or now that coach (Jim) Harbaugh is in the NFL — or coaches,” Nugent said. “It's definitely something to appreciate on top of the incredible season we had.”

Three of Michigan's prospects have fathers who played in the league.

Jenkins, whose dad has the same name, was a two-time All-Pro defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. James Harrell was with the Detroit Lions and Terry Nugent played for Cleveland and Indianapolis.

A father figure of sorts, Harbaugh will likely lobby the Los Angeles Chargers to draft some of his former players.

Harbaugh attended Michigan's pro day last month and though he may not be the most objective observer and he already has a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert, the former Michigan and NFL quarterback was blown away by McCarthy's performance.

“I’ve been to a lot of pro day workouts and watched quarterbacks throw. That was the best I’ve ever seen a quarterback do at a pro day,” Harbaugh said.


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