Michigan DL Preview
Turning now to the defensive side of the ball, Michigan football returns a pretty deep group along its defensive front, starting with superstar defensive tackle Kris Jenkins Jr. Listed now as north of 300 pounds, Jenkins has slowly but surely developed his game and body into a lethal weapon on the Wolverines defensive line.
In fact, Jenkins even debuted as an early projected first-round Draft pick according to ESPN analyst Jordan Reid. Jenkins was a game-wrecker for opposing offensive coordinators last year and will shoulder a bit more responsibility this fall as Mazi Smith has departed to the NFL.
However, Michigan football should feel pretty confident that they will get some quality replacements involved where Smith used to be, and that starts with their duo of true sophomores in Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant. Graham is a bit smaller, though smaller is obviously a relative term when talking about a guy who is 6-3, 315 pounds and as powerful as they come. Grant is the more traditional 3-4 nose tackle, weighing in at almost 340 pounds. The two of them both saw a good deal of action last fall as a true freshman and will certainly see significant snaps now this season with Smith gone.
On the EDGE, Michigan football has a fairly deep rotation of players who saw action last year and made some good impressions throughout the year, though not as much in the way of established stars as they previously had. Michigan is hoping that defensive end Braiden McGregor is the next superstar to develop, as he has the length, explosiveness, and power to do so. He’ll likely split snaps with sophomore Derrick Moore, a prominent recruit from Michigan’s 2022 recruiting class who saw some time as a freshman last year.
At the rush outside linebacker role, Michigan football has two very quality players at their disposal. Jaylen Harrell returns after starting in that role last season. He will be looking to build off of his 3.5 sack campaign with an even bigger year this fall.
However, joining him at that spot is a prized transfer addition in former Coastal Carolina star Josiah Stewart, a high school teammate of Michigan’s Mike Sainristil. Stewart had 16.0 sacks over two seasons at Coastal, but will now be looking to parlay his success there into even greater success at a bigger school like Michigan. Overall, this is a deep room, and the Wolverines should feel really good about the guys they have this fall.