(Photo: University of Michigan Football)
For me personally, the 2020 NFL Draft was a fun one and a good one as well for results. For my fandom, it was the Miami Dolphins making me happy with a load of good picks that were led by Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. But there was also excitement for me with another angle, and it's a bit deeper and career-driven for me with this one, and that's the Michigan Wolverines and how they did in the draft.
Studying journalism through the University of Michigan and still donating to the school today, it was absolutely glorious to see my Wolverines have an outstanding performance in the NFL Draft, having a total of 10 players drafted for the second most out of any school -- LSU would be first with 14 total, with our rival Ohio State tied in second with 10.
And to all of those 10 players, I would like to personally congratulate each one on a great career with the University of Michigan, getting drafted and I'd also like to wish them luck in the NFL. They're just apart of the glory of the 'M' that makes be proud to be a Wolverine.
Let's go over the entire 10 from the Class of 2020 who will be representing Michigan in the National Football League, and I'll also give you my personal opinion on how I see them doing with their new team.
C Cesar Ruiz (Round 1, Pick 24 - New Orleans Saints)
Our first round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft was our big man on the offensive line in center Cesar Ruiz, going 24th to the New Orleans Saints. Before the draft, Ruiz was looked at as a player that could possibly sneak into the first round and be picked mid-to-late, and as time went along, a lot of mock drafts starting showing that -- including mine -- with his hype increasing.
Well, we would all turn out to be correct, and Ruiz would be the first Wolverine taken off of the board. Oh, how I wanted the Miami Dolphins to pick up Ruiz as our center, but we fell just two picks short. However, Ruiz got put with a great organization with the New Orleans Saints, and I wish him all the luck in the world in the Big Easy. Congrats, Cesar! I'm sure Drew Brees is happy, and I would be too -- hell, I wanted him on my team. He'll be productive in the National Football League, no doubts about that one.
LB Josh Uche (Round 2, Pick 60 - New England Patriots)
The last two years have been phenomenal for Josh Uche. In 2018, our pass-rushing specialist would record 15 tackles and seven sacks, and then would increase that production this season with 35 tackles and 8.5 sacks -- 11.5 of his tackles would be for a loss. Now you see why the Wolverines football program would give him the team's defensive player of the year. Uche would also grab a spot on the second-team All-Big Ten squad.
The New England Patriots got themselves a good one with this one, but Patriots fans, be patient with him. I can see him getting a lot of playing time, particularly in third down situations and other plays against the pass. As time goes along and his play progresses, you will see an improved role with even more production on the stat sheet. Good pick up for Bill Belichick and staff, and good luck and congratulations to Josh!
OL Ben Bredeson (Round 4, Pick 143 - Baltimore Ravens)
For the final day of the draft on Saturday, that's when things would really get poppin' for the University of Michigan, and Ben Bredeson -- another big ugly -- would get us started for the day. After that, that's when a slew of Wolverines would get selected by NFL teams. Let's go into them a bit deeper, since our stars Ruiz and Uche are getting most of the shine being taken in the first two rounds -- proud of those guys.
With Bredeson in particular, he was effective for Michigan's offensive line the entire four years of his career, and in fact, Ben was actually listed as one of the top guards in the class of 2020. Throughout his career, Bredeson would claim a spot on the All-Big Ten team, and would do so a total of three times -- he would gather first-team in 2019, while being second-team in both 2018 and 2017. He's also been a part of the heart and soul of Michigan as well, being only one of 12 players who have been elected captain of the football team.
It gets even better for Ben though. In 2019, he would be a candidate for the Outland Trophy, while being named a second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. From the Associated Press, he would earn another All-American accolade, this time being third-team. With the Wolverines, he would share the team's top offensive lineman award (Hugh H. Rader Award) with Jon Runyan.
Needless to say, the Baltimore Ravens made one hell of a pick here (and a steal, the first of many Wolverines) with Bredeson's production and accolades -- the man was lethal with the University of Michigan. Good luck, Ben, and well wishes, though I'm sure your talent won't need much luck nor wishes. The man is strong as hell on the line, plain and simple. He'll be immediately effective for Baltimore. Do it big in the DMV, Ben! Congrats!
LB Khaleke Hudson (Round 5, Pick 162 - Washington Redskins)
Khaleke Hudson! One of our team captains in the 2019 season, and he would definitely prove his worth. Khaleke would be voted by his Michigan teammates to be their Special Teams Player of the Year, while also gaining second team All-Big Ten.
His numbers were gorgeous as well this past season, ranking seventh in the conference with 7.8 tackles-per-game -- it would also put him in the top 100 in the nation as well with a 72nd ranking. On the year total, he would record 102 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, two sacks and Hudson would also defend three passes.
Khaleke had an amazing career with the Wolverines, and one thing that should be singled out in particular is his NCAA record-breaking performance against Minnesota in 2017. He would have an incredible game putting up 15 tackles, 8 TFLs, three sacks and one forced fumble. Hudson would also tally five blocked punts on special teams, which would be a Michigan career-record.
With those kinds of statistics, Khaleke Hudson is sure to put in work for Ron Rivera and the Washington Redskins, and could be immediately effective. And in fact, with Khaleke dropping all the way down to the fifth round, you certainly have to list him as a steal for Washington. His numbers are definitely slept on, and I have all the faith in the world in him. Good luck, Khaleke! And congratulations on being drafted!
DL Michael Danna (Round 5, Pick 177 - Kansas City Chiefs)
Michael Danna would only play one season with Michigan being a 2019 graduate transfer, but he would put up some decent numbers throughout his sole campaign with Blue. Altogether, Michael would rack up 38 tackles to go along with three sacks and one forced fumble on the stat sheet. And his best performance of the year would come against our rival, Michigan State, with six tackles and one sack.
Danna might take some time to develop, but he does have some solid potential to work with. As a Wolverine though, I can't help but to be proud of Michael. He wouldn't receive an invitation to the NFL combine earlier this year, and despite that, he would still get drafted. Best of luck to you, Michael, and congratulations for being drafted! I know you worked hard to get to this point coming all the way up from Central Michigan University.
OL Michael Onwenu (Round 6, Pick 182 - New England Patriots)
The New England Patriots get an offensive lineman with not just big-time experience with the University of Michigan, but loads of it. In total, Onwenu would play in 41 games on the line, and his 46 total ties Ben Bredeson for the most played out of all of the linemen who entered the draft. On top of that, the Patriots also get someone who is durable, scoring 27 straight starts since the 2017 Outback Bowl.
Michael's talent and durability would lead to two third-team selections to the All-Big Ten, once in 2018 and the other spot in 2019. In 2019 in particular though, he would really upgrade his performance, getting selected as a mid-season All-American (from both ESPN and Pro Football Focus College) on the first team and he would also be considered for the Outland Trophy.
With this being the case, you have to say the New England Patriots made a steal here with Onwenu falling down to the sixth round. Not only was Onwenu a productive offensive lineman for the Wolverines, but he was up for the top OL in the country (Outland Trophy) and was named an All-American. Michael is some quality talent, and congratulations to New England for the steal. And congratulations to Michael Onwenu for getting picked! He got put with the perfect situation here with the Patriots organization, six-time Super Bowl champions, and I think he'll have a great career as a result.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (Round 6, Pick 187 - Cleveland Browns)
Now here's the guy I'm excited to watch the most in our class of 2020: Donovan Peoples-Jones. During his three years at the University of Michigan, Donovan was always active when it came to putting six points up on the scoreboard. And he was lethal at it too, being both a threat in catching the ball and returning on special teams.
His numbers were very productive, scoring 16 touchdowns throughout his entire career -- 14 would be from the air, while he would get another two on punt returns. In yardage, he would obtain 1,327 passing yards, and would actually finish second all-time in the Wolverines record books with 743 yards in punt returns. In 2019, he would earn third team All-Big Ten as a returner and would receive a honorable mention for his work at the wide receiver position.
In 2018 in particular, Peoples-Jones would lead Michigan in receiving and would get the team's Offensive Skill Player of the Year as a result. In total, he would bring in 612 yards and eight touchdowns. As far as his punt returning was concerned, he would rank 17th in the entire nation in punt-return average with a tally of 10.0. In total, he would return a total of 250 yards with one touchdown. That season, he would gain a spot on the All-Big Ten third team as both a receiver and returner.
Also it should be mentioned, in 2017, Donovan would be named a freshman All-American for his work on special teams. On the offensive side, he would also be named the Wolverines' Rookie of the Year.
It's going to be interesting to see how Donovan People-Jones' career evolves over the next few seasons, especially with what the Cleveland Browns are trying to do up there in Northeast Ohio. With Baker Mayfield at quarterback, Nick Chubb leading things on the ground (and possibly having a very productive duo if they can get Kareem Hunt back in form) and Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in the receiving corps, it makes for an interesting offense that the Browns are developing. On top of that, you also have Austin Hooper in the mix as well at the tight end position.
This is a perfect offense that Donovan could thrive in with the load of talent involved, and could give him the opportunity to put up some effective numbers right away with no double-teams to work with -- Beckham Jr. and Landry will take care of that. Peoples-Jones could be a legitimate No. 3 option for the Browns and could immediately become a rising star. (Not to mention his punt returning, which I'm sure will be used plenty by Cleveland.) I'm actually quite excited for Donovan Peoples-Jones in this situation, and I'll certainly be watching a few Cleveland Browns games this upcoming season to see how he does.
Great fit, Donovan, and congratulations on being picked! You deserve it after all of the scoring we would see from you while at the University of Michigan. And a wise warning to the Browns organization: Don't sleep on this man. He would be held back a bit with poor quarterback play, so with the right arm, this kid could be something special in the league. Embrace this pick, Cleveland, because honestly, you got a steal with him in the sixth round. And it very well could have been the steal of the entire 2020 NFL Draft -- I might have to agree with John McCafferty on that one.
OL Jon Runyan (Round 6, Pick 192 - Green Bay Packers)
I say the Green Bay Packers got a steal as well with offensive lineman Jon Runyan. In both 2018 and 2019, he would be selected to the All-Big Ten first team. Jon would also be the University of Michigan's best offensive lineman not just once, but twice, winning the Hugh H. Rader Award. He's also apart of the first and only father-son duo to win the award, with his dad, Jon Runyan Sr., bringing home the honor in 1994.
As far as Runyan's father is concerned, Jon Sr. would play professional football, so the Packers have somebody who has DNA connected to the National Football League. Jon's dad would play a total of 14 seasons in the league, being involved in a couple of Super Bowls with the Tennessee Titans (XXIV) and Philadelphia Eagles (XXXIX). His father would be selected in the fourth-round by the Houston Oilers in the 1996 NFL Draft. In total, he would play four seasons with the Titans from 1996-99, nine with the Eagles from 2000-08 and then end things off with one just season with the San Diego Chargers in 2009.
The Green Bay Packers got a steal here with a player of Jon's caliber falling to Round 6, for both his big-school talent and having the NFL in his blood. Congratulations to the Packers for a great pick up here and congratulations to Jon for being selected in the NFL Draft! I already know this big boy is going to do work in the pros, especially being in a great system with the Green Bay organization.
S Josh Metellus (Round 6, Pick 205 - Minnesota Vikings)
Josh Metellus isn't the most productive player ever (though he is effective), but with the right development, the Minnesota Vikings could have him as a quality talent. Throughout his career, he's recorded 187 tackles (nine TFLs), 21 pass breakups, five interceptions and one sack. The numbers would gain him honors of being named to the All-Big Ten second team, while also receiving honorable mentions in each 2017 and 2019.
In 2019, Josh would also be named one of our alternate captains, and his numbers would prove to be solid in the process for his senior season. In total, he would record 74 tackles, seven PBUs, four TFLs and two interceptions. In the 2018 season, he would be named to the All-Big Ten second team, with numbers of 48 stops, nine PBUs, 3.5 TFLs and three interceptions.
Not a bad talent for the Vikings to acquire, and congratulations to Josh for getting his name called! Best of luck with your new team and make the University of Michigan proud!
LB Jordan Glasgow (Round 6, Pick 213 - Indianapolis Colts)
AN. AB-SO-LUTE. STEAL. Absolute. The Indianapolis Colts got an absolute steal with this one. I can't say that enough. I'm honestly surprised that Jordan Glasgow fell this far back in the draft. (And how in the hell did he not get an invite to the NFL combine?) According to PFF College last season, Josh was named the best tackler in the nation, and he would also be named as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award -- he would be awarded the Roger Zatkoff Award for being our best linebacker on the team.
On top of that, the kid also has an incredible work ethic, winning our Blue Collar Award for being the team's hardest worker. His talent and work ethic would see him record 89 tackles, seven TFLs, five sacks, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery for a very solid stat sheet in his senior season. He'd also lead special teams in tackles twice in his career.
But that's not all with Josh, he's smart as hell too. For three consecutive years from 2017-19, he would be named a CoSIDA All-American, while also earning Academic All-Big Ten all four years of his university life from 2016-19.
Quality talent, statistics, work ethic, smarts, the Minnesota Vikings got one hell of a steal here. Congratulations, Josh! Though I think you should have been picked higher, but I know you'll prove the naysayers wrong in the NFL. I believe in this kid, he'll be a solid player in the league. Just watch. Good luck, Josh!