Why Michigan football best prepares players for the NFL

The Wolverines have a staggering amount of players who are expected to be NFL draft picks, with the potential of breaking the record set by Georgia in 2022 of 15 players selected.

In February, 18 Michigan football players made it to Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine, the most of any school in history. When former head coach Jim Harbaugh said before the 2023 season that he expected his team to put forth more NFL draft picks than any other school in history, many pundits scoffed, but here the maize and blue are, on the precipice of achieving just that.

According to media who were on the ground in Ann Arbor, there were more than 150 coaches, general managers, and pro scouts in attendance for pro day, which itself is a staggering number. Of course, when a team wins a national championship, it has a lot of talent, but considering that Michigan football has not been included in the same category as some recent SEC winners (such as Georgia) by loading up on five-stars, it lends to the theory that the Wolverines are doing something different.

What that is? It’s simply the work put in, quarterback J.J. McCarthy says.

“The strict structure that we’re held to every day, the discipline that came being here and having that inevitable spotlight around Michigan football all the time,” McCarthy said. “So when you combine all that, this is the greatest university in the world to prepare for something like the NFL.”

What’s more, the culture plays a big role, McCarthy says.

In 2021, several players took it upon themselves to change things in Ann Arbor. The culture was at an all-time low after Michigan went 2-4 in the COVID year, and players such as Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Ross, Mike Sainristil, and others said, ‘Enough!’ and worked to change things around.

McCarthy notes that while the team is competitive during practice and conditioning sessions, it is also incredibly supportive of each other. Everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goal. And if that costs some individual accolades? So be it, so long as the team wins.

And with a 15-0 season in 2023, it did just that.

“Yeah, it’s just an inevitable drive that we all push each other,” McCarthy said. “But it’s not like anyone’s stepping on each other’s toes. We’re all rooting for each other at the same time. So it’s a beautiful relationship.”

We’ll find out in late April whether or not Michigan will break the all-time draft record set by the Bulldogs. Should serendipity have it, the draft this year will take place just down the road in downtown Detroit.


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