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2016 NFL Draft Watch: Week 9 (Michigan at Minnesota)

This week, we focus on a Big Ten conference matchup between the Michigan Wolverines and Minnesota Gophers.

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

#15 Michigan at Minnesota - 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN


LB Desmond Morgan, 6-foot-1, 236 pounds (#3, RS Senior)

After playing just one game last year and receiving a medical redshirt, 24-year-old senior Desmond Morgan burst onto the scene with a team-leading 44 tackles, as well as an interception, three pass deflections and a forced fumble through seven games this year. He's been a tackle machine this year and is gaining the recognition to warrant a mid-late round pick in next year's draft. Proceeding their loss to Michigan State, Pro Football Focus had Morgan pegged with a +17.0 grade on the year -- one of the highest grades on that dominant defense.

Morgan will probably never end up being a Pro-Bowl starter in the NFL, but he's an efficient tackler that will provide solid depth and can play special teams. I'm sure the Detroit Lions will be interested in adding some linebacker depth this offseason.

Other players to watch:

TE Jake Butt, 6-foot-6, 248 pounds (#88, Junior)

CB Jourdan Lewis, 5-foot-10, 176 pounds (#26, Junior)

LB Joe Bolden, 6-foot-3, 232 pounds (#35, Senior)

LB James Ross III, 6-foot-1, 232 pounds (#15, Senior)

DE Chris Wormley, 6-foot-5, 300 pounds (#43, RS Senior)

OL Graham Glasgow, 6-foot-6, 303 pounds (#61, RS Senior)


CB Eric Murray, 6-foot-0, 195 pounds (#31, Senior)

Murray is one of my sleepers for this year's draft and deserves more recognition than he's getting right now. Many have his teammate Briean Boddy-Calhoun ranked over him, but I tend to favor Murray's size and ability to play press-coverage. Murray gets low in his stance, is explosive in his backpedal, and is remarkably talented at planting and driving. He plays with aggression at the line of scrimmage and has a knack for playing with his back to the ball.

There are a few knocks on Murray, none bigger than the fact that he's only intercepted the ball twice in his career. I don't see this as a big concern, especially when you consider his 21 pass deflections in 30 games. While Murray excels in coverage, he leaves a lot to be desired against the run. Watching his tape from last year, I saw way too many instances of Murray taking poor angles and letting the ball carrier run right by him. He has a hard time shedding blocks and will get driven down the field by receivers. At times, he desperately tries to spin himself around the receiver, which dampers his cause even more because he often loses sight of the ball carrier.

Despite drafting Alex Carter last year, the Lions could still use some help at CB on the outside. Eric Murray would be a wonderful addition in the early-mid rounds.

Other players to watch:

CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds (#29, RS Senior)

LB De'Vondre Campbell, 6-foot-5, 239 pounds (#26, RS Senior)

WR KJ Maye, 5-foot-10, 194 pounds (#1, Senior)

LB Jack Lynn, 6-foot-3, 238 pounds (#50, RS Junior)

Bonus Matchups

If you want a game to flip to during commercial breaks while you're watching your Wolverines play, check out the Vanderbilt vs. Houston game over on ESPN2 and keep an eye out for Houston CB, William Jackson III. WJ3 has quickly become one of my favorite CB prospects this year and could see his stock rise to as high as the first round. He has the size (6'1, 195) and athleticism that teams are looking for.

No. 9 Notre Dame takes on No. 21 Temple at 8:00 p.m. ET over on ABC, which features a ton of Irish prospects, most of whom we've already discussed in this series. One player I failed to mention was running back CJ Prosise. After losing RB Tarean Folston for the year, Prosise, a converted receiver, has more than stepped up to the plate and is one of the top RB prospects in the country right now. I actually have Prosise ranked as the top zone-runner in this class. He is a true one-cut RB that will make you miss and can play a little bit of receiver in the slot if needed.

Temple is ranked for the first time since 1979. The biggest name you need to know from that team is Tyler Matakevich. He sort of reminds me of a poor man's Paul Dawson from last year. He's a bit undersized, but compensates for his physical limitations with his elite instincts and intelligence on the field.