Skip to main content

With the 2020 season shelved, and no definite plans in place to play a winter or spring season, several Wolverines may be done putting on the winged helmet.

We already know that offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield and cornerback Ambry Thomas have decided to pack it in and get ready for the 2021 NFL Draft, but we likely haven't seen the last of guys choosing to go that route. Now, we can speculate about who else may go the same route and prepare for the next stage of their career. 

Here's a look at the four players most likely to follow in Mayfield's and Thomas' footsteps.

Nico Collins

nico collins

Why He Should: Collins should go pro because frankly, he's already attractive enough to do so. At 6-4, 215 pounds, he's got prototypical size, he's got a former NFL head coach in Jim Harbaugh and a young, up-and-coming wide receivers coach in Josh Gattis vouching for him and his 4.46 speed and he's already got a lot of really good tape. Even though he hasn't had eye popping numbers, he's going to check every box that NFL scouts are looking for in a wide receiver if he declared today.

Why He Shouldn't: Even though Collins is going to look great, test well and pass in-person interviews with flying colors, another year of film could really push him up draft boards. As Michigan's clear No. 1 receiver, he's going to put up decent numbers that could be great numbers if Josh Gattis continues to progress in year No. 2 as Michigan's offensive coordinator. Of course, Michigan will be starting five new offensive linemen and a new quarterback, which plays a big part in a receiver's numbers. Still, the potential is there for Collins to go over 1,000 and score double-digit touchdowns because of his size, speed, ability to battle against corners and overall drive as a potential draft pick.

If He Does: If Collins does go pro, it would result in a potential massive season for rising junior Ronnie Bell. Young receivers like sophomores Giles Jackson, Mike Sainristil and Cornelius Johnson would have to take a big step forward and incoming freshmen AJ Henning and Roman Wilson would likely have to see the field. Removing a guy like Collins also affects the quarterback, who is going to be a first-time starter. Both Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton would definitely like to have a receiver like Collins on the outside to make them look better on less-than-perfect throws and in the red zone.

Aidan Hutchinson

aidan hutchinson

Why He Should: Hutchinson should go pro because he's played a lot of football already and looks like a million bucks for a defensive end. At 6-6, 269 pounds, with little to no body fat and a crazy motor, Hutchinson is essentially the prototype for an NFL defensive end. He hasn't put up huge numbers but he has a knack for splash plays, does a great job batting down passes and really holds up well in all situations. He's ready for the league.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Why He Shouldn't: Like Collins, Hutchinson has a chance to put up some great numbers the next time he takes the field. As a junior, he's poised to be a leader, both on and off the field, and a captain. Those kinds of things are important to him and would certainly make his father, former All-American and captain Chris Hutchinson, extremely proud. Aidan isn't high on a lot of draft board, but he could be with another productive season. With Chris being an emergency room doctor, the financial influence isn't as strong on Aidan either. That's not the only driving force for players to make a decision, but it certainly factors in.

If He Does: If Hutchinson does go pro, it really leaves Michigan pretty thin at defensive end. Luiji Vilain, who has battled injuries his entire career, is really the only other end who has any type of experience, and he doesn't have much. Beyond him, it's guys like freshman Braiden McGregor, redshirt freshman Mike Morris, redshirt sophomore Taylor Upshaw, redshirt sophomore Julius Welschof and redshirt freshman Gabe Newburg making up the position group. None of them have any meaningful snaps under their belt and would really have to prove themselves in order to play the kind of football necessary to replace a guy like Hutchinson.

Cameron McGrone

cameron mcgrone

Why He Should: One word — speed. If McGrone opts to go pro and participates in the NFL Combine, he'll likely test off the charts, especially in the 40, where he'd likely run a sub-4.5 forty-yard dash. He's shown that he can play against spread offenses that put great athletes in space and create mismatches. At 6-1, 236, McGrone is in that linebacker/safety mold that has become so popular in the NFL and so important against today's offenses.

Why He Shouldn't: McGrone just hasn't played a ton. He started off last year behind Josh Ross, but exploded onto the scene when Ross went down with an injury. He only has 66 tackles in his entire career at Michigan, which is only two-years long, so another season, as a leader and a major contributor in Don Brown's linebacker-friendly defense would only improve his abilities and his stock.

If He Does: It's crazy to think that the only Michigan linebackers who have really played are McGrone and Ross. If McGrone leaves that room, the coaches will have to find a young, inexperienced player to take his spot. Who steps in to replace McGrone? Unless a true freshman really shows that he's ready to play, it'll be sophomore Anthony Solomon, who seems like a viper, redshirt sophomore Michael Barrett, who is a viper as of right now, redshirt freshman Charles Thomas or redshirt sophomore Ben VanSumeren, who was playing running last year. That's it.

Kwity Paye

kwity paye

Why He Should: As a rising senior, Paye's career is just about over anyways and he's already shown that he's ready for the next level. Heading into 2020, he's been described as the No. 1 freak in the country, a first-round pick and an extremely disciplined, smart and athletic defensive end. He's shown that he can hold up against the run, put pressure on quarterbacks and learn to thrive in any system. Don Brown's defensive is complicated and he's called Paye the smartest defensive lineman he's ever coached.

Why He Shouldn't: There actually aren't a lot of reasons for Paye to stick around. He's older and closer to his physical ceiling than the others on this list. he's also been productive for three years already. The main reasons he'd want to come back are because he could be a part of a very special defense and because he'd be a leader and would probably have a very fun, successful year. Beyond that, he's done most of what he can do in Ann Arbor.

If He Does: If both Paye and Hutchinson decide to leave, it would decimate Michigan's defensive end position. As is outlined above, Michigan is pretty thin at defensive end behind Salt and Pepper. Vilain is the only one who has really played and he hasn't been on the field much. Beyond him, it's those young, inexperienced guys who would suddenly be battling for a starting spot. Shaun Nua would have to find two starters out of McGregor, Morris, Upshaw, Welschof and Newburg, along with Vilain. If either guy leaves, Michigan is going to need to figure out what to do. If Hutchinson and Paye both leave, it would almost be panic mode.