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Michigan defenders Mike Morris, Mazi Smith land as top-50 prospects on NFL Draft big boards

Clayton Sayfie11/03/22
Article written by:On3 imageClayton Sayfie


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(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Michigan Wolverines football senior EDGE Mike Morris has had a huge rise during the first eight games of the season. The Maize and Blue defender was expected to start, but there were questions as to if he would be good enough to replace the production left behind by first-rounder Aidan Hutchinson and second-rounder David Ojabo.

Morris isn’t either guy, but he’s taken the role, ran with it and added his own flair. At 6-6, 292 pounds, Morris has emerged as Michigan’s best pass rusher and a force stopping the run from his EDGE spot.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. placed Morris No. 22 on his NFL Draft big board released Nov. 3. He slotted as the third-best defensive end.

“It’s rare to see a guy as big as Morris playing on his feet as a stand-up edge rusher, but he moves extremely well for his size,” Kiper wrote. “Morris could be considered a bit of a late bloomer, but he was playing behind two great talents last season (Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo); he had only a half-sack in three starts in 2021.

“This season, Morris has 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble, and he pops when I put on the tape because of his size and traits. He could keep rising as we get closer to the draft in April.”


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Michigan graduate center Olusegun Oluwatimi didn’t make Kiper’s top 25 prospects, but he ranks as the second-best center prospect, per Kiper. Graduate kicker Jake Moody slots fourth among kickers and punters, and grad punter Brad Robbins is eighth amongst that same group.

Michigan senior defensive tackle Mazi Smith continues to impress, as well, and is making his case for the NFL Draft. Kiper projected him as the No. 5 defensive tackle.

The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler, meanwhile, has Smith as his No. 45 overall prospect in the draft in his recently-released big board. Just four other defensive tackles ranked ahead of him.

Smith has recorded 32 tackles, including 3 behind the line of scrimmage and 1 sack, even while taking on frequent double teams from his nose guard spot.

“Mazi Smith is a powerful defender at contact and hard to move, even for double-teams,” Brugler wrote. “He doesn’t get to show it consistently, but he also brings juice as a pass rusher. An underrated part of his game is his ability to stay on the field in any situation (he’s averaging 42.6 defensive snaps per game).”

No other Michigan players, Morris included, appeared in Brugler’s top 50.