The Michigan football program will have plenty of representation at the 2019 NFL Combine. Six former Wolverines were invited to the scouting combine, including DL Rashan Gary, LB Devin Bush, Edge Chase Winovich, CB David Long, RB Karan Higdon, and TE Zach Gentry.
Rashan Gary and Devin Bush are the highest-profile Michigan players that’ll be attending the 2019 NFL Combine, as both players are projected as first-round picks in April’s NFL draft. The latest mock draft from ESPN’s Todd McShay, which was published last Thursday, has Gary going No. 3 to the New York Jets and Bush No. 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. With both Gary and Bush already having high draft stock, it is the four other players that can benefit the most from an impressive combine.
Chase Winovich has perhaps the most to gain from a solid combine outing. Winovich said last year he was told he’d be a third or fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, and instead chose to return to Michigan for his senior year. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end and first-team all-Big Ten selection had a great year but was injured in the final game of the regular season against Ohio State.
While Winovich told ESPN that he would require surgery for an undisclosed injury, he decided he’d play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the Senior Bowl prior to undergoing the operation.
“[The medical staff] told me after the Ohio State game the injury I sustained early on in that game that I’m going to need surgery,” Winovich told ESPN. “They said you need surgery, what do you want to do? You can get it now or try to put it off until after the combines. I knew I had to work out in the combine because it’s important for a lot of reasons to display some of my skills.”
“From that point, I know I’m not going to get surgery, I know I want to play in the Senior Bowl, and I have this bowl game. This is a great opportunity. It’s my last game at Michigan. It was like, ‘Shoot, I’m already hurt I might as well take this opportunity and seize it.'”
Winovich was able to play in the Peach Bowl but was forced to withdraw from the Senior Bowl due to the injury. The 2019 NFL Combine will be scouts first chance to get a read on Winivich’s health.
Todd McShay sees Winovich making the change from defensive end to outside linebacker in the NFL.
“Teams are going to find starters on Day 2,” McShay writes. “I love the tape on Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich, for one. He’s athletic, quick and tough as hell.”
In a similar fashion, Karan Higdon has plenty to prove himself. Higdon became the first running back at Michigan to rush for 1,000 yards since 2011, but he struggled at the Senior Bowl carrying the ball just five times for 18 yards for the North in a 34-24 victory over the South. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr ranked Higdon No. 9 among his best-available running backs in January, making him a potential mid-to-late round pick. A productive combine could help him raise his stock.
David Long projects as a potential press corner on the boundary in the NFL. In his two years as a starter at Michigan, Long shutdown receivers to the point where teams stopped passing his way.
The University of Michigan produced TWO of the top three cornerbacks in the B1G in terms of fewest yards per cover snap allowed from this past season. pic.twitter.com/RMAtmeGSSX
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 8, 2019
Despite this dominance Long only recorded three career interceptions. There are also potential concerns about Long’s length and size, especially in matchups with longer, more physical receivers. With his on the field play speaking for itself, scouts will be paying close attention to his physical numbers to see if he can be as successful in the NFL.
Zack Gentry is a former quarterback turned tight end. At 6-foot-8, Gentry presents a large target over the middle and is coming off his most productive season as a Wolverine. Gentry hauled in 32 catches for 514 yards and two touchdowns. He chose last-minute to forego his final year of eligibility at Michigan and enter the NFL draft.
The 2019 NFL Combine will take place from February 26th to March 4th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.