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Will the number of Michigan men in NFL Draft set a new record?

Detroit Lions fans roaring ahead of 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit
Detroit Lions fans roaring ahead of 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit 02:01

The Michigan Wolverines have saw no fewer than 18 players attend the combine, which would give them ample opportunity to set a new record for the most players from a single school to be picked in the upcoming NFL Draft.

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.

This time around, J.J. McCarthy is expected to be just the first of a long line of Michigan men drafted from its national championship team.

"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."

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."

Detroit bracing for major activity ahead of draft

Over the last year, Detroit has examined the security playbook from previous host cities like Kansas City and Las Vegas to develop its own, which will depend heavily on support from other local, state, and federal partners

On the ground, the Michigan State Police will send at least 50 troopers to patrol the NFL Draft footprint daily, while the Wayne County Sheriff's Office will assign 70 deputies to the event. 

"We will be in uniform, out and about in the area, making sure that the people see us, that they feel protected," Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington said. "And where they don't see us, they should know that we're still there." 

The commissioner for the Detroit Fire Department said the department will set up four medical tents and have six additional ambulances during the three-day event.

Fire inspectors will also patrol to ensure businesses are complying with capacity restrictions.

Many Wolverines in the mix to be drafted

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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