June 19, 2024

For those hoping Michigan football will falter following their national championship win, their aspirations do not align with reality.

The Wolverines boast significant talent on the defensive side, with potential first-round picks in defensive tackles Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant, as well as cornerback Will Johnson. Linebackers Ernest Hausmann and Jaishawn Barham also show promise as potential early-round selections, while the safety position is well-stocked.

Despite losing key players, Michigan appears poised to remain among the nation’s defensive elite.

In ESPN’s future defensive power rankings, Michigan holds the third spot, mirroring their position from the previous year. According to Adam Rittenberg’s analysis, Michigan’s 2023 defense could rival Georgia’s in terms of excellence and historical significance. The return of key NFL prospects like Johnson, Graham, and Grant, along with other standout players like Josaiah Stewart and Makari Paige, bolsters Michigan’s defense.

While there are changes on the coaching staff, including the return of Martindale and new position coaches, Michigan’s secondary remains a strength. However, there are areas where improvements are needed, such as finding solutions at cornerback and safety positions. Sophomores DJ Waller Jr. and Jyaire Hill are among the players to watch.

Additionally, there is depth across the defensive line, at linebacker, and on the edges, with emerging talents like Enow Etta, TJ Guy, and Cameron Brandt making strides. Players like Jaydon Hood and Trey Pierce also show promise for the upcoming season.

In comparison to other defenses, only Georgia and Iowa rank ahead of Michigan, with notable opponents like Ohio State, Texas, and Penn State also featured in the rankings.

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