Michigan had two players – Devin Bush Jr. and Rashan Gary – selected in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, but although many analysts thought the Wolverines could have two second-round picks, their names were not called.
Defensive end Chase Winovich and cornerback David Long were thought to be sure second-round picks by many draft analysts but had to continue waiting into the third round where they both were taken early.
Winovich was selected by the New England Patriots with the 77th pick and Long is heading home to Los Angeles to play for the Rams, which made him the 79th overall pick. The NFL Draft concludes Saturday. Bush was the No. 10 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Gary went No. 12 to Green Bay.
Earlier this week, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper projected Winovich and Long, who both had strong NFL Combine showings, in the second round. Winovich returned to Michigan for his final year of eligibility after considering an early jump to the NFL, and with that additional year in college football, he turned heads while earning the team’s Most Valuable Player distinction.
Long left the Wolverines with a season of eligibility remaining. He had one interception and eight pass breakups last season. He had six pass breakups in 2017 and three interceptions his final two seasons as a starter.
Winovich had 69 tackles, including 17 for loss and five sacks last fall. He was a colorful personality and not just because of his long blond hair. At the NFL Combine, Winovich said he wanted to convince teams there was more to him than just being a high-motor player.
Out of all the players who are leaving the West Virginia Mountaineers this year, there is no one I will miss more than David Long. An undersized prospects, standing under 6’-0” tall, Long has “it”. However you choose to define it for a defensive football player, Long has that quality. He instinctively finds the football and quickly, strongly, and immediately brings down the ball carrier – often behind the line of scrimmage. There is a reason he is named Mr. TFL. Long missed the first four games of his sophomore year and still finished 4th in the Big 12 in tackles. Despite playing only 11 games last year due to a hurricane, Long finished with over 100 tackles. In his 2+ years starting, he had over 250 tackles and 40 tackles for loss. Aqib Talib is in the perfect position to be a mentor to David Long entering his first season with the Los Angeles Rams.
Due to all of the uncertainty surrounding the cornerback position beyond the 2019 season with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, the Los Angeles Rams were expected to look at the cornerback position during the 2019 NFL Draft, which they did with David Long in the third round.
Thanks to impressive career at Michigan, the Rams hope to see Long eventually develop into a reliable starter on the defensive side of the football, but for now it looks like the rookie just needs to be a little extra patient.Plus, one of the main positive factors for Long to consider is now that he’s officially a member of the Rams is how he can benefit from one of the best in the game with Talib.
Football fans can say whatever they want about how much of a headache Talib can be at times, but at the end of the day, his talent is undeniable at the NFL level.
In a way, it’s amazing to think about how Talib will be entering his 13th NFL season (second with Rams), and has still proven to play football at a high enough level to make a major impact on the defensive side of the football.
Last year when Los Angeles acquired the veteran cornerback from the Denver Broncos, they knew all along that Talib would most likely only be a short-term answer since it’s tough to continue playing at his age (turned 33 in February).
Similar to Peters, Talib is entering the final year of his contract in 2019, but unlike his teammate, it seems more likely that Los Angeles will move on from Talib after this season, especially if Long has a successful year of development as a rookie.At the moment, Brown may have an experience advantage over Henderson since he’s heading into his fifth season with the Rams, but plenty could change from now until the end of training camp.
Watching Henderson end his career with the Tigers in one of the best ways possible by rushing for 1,909 yards to go along with 22 touchdowns is the perfect example of why the interest was there for Los Angeles in the draft.
Brown has been a favorite of McVay’s over the last two seasons, but the Rams head coach will always do what’s best for the team on offense, even if that means Henderson works his way into the No. 2 spot in the backfield.