From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Michigan EDGE Mike Morris.
#90 Mike Morris, Michigan (Junior) — 6051, 275 Lbs.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Mike Morris||6051, 275||10″||33 1/2″||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
-Ideal size and length for the position
-Flashes the ability to get small and bend the edge as a pass rusher
-Sound run defender overall; able to consistently anchor and set the edge
-Good burst in backside pursuit to run down ball carrier
-Comfortable playing hand in the dirt or standing up
-Good get-off with long strides in passing situations to soften the edge
-Converts speed to power well and has heavy hands to rock blocker
-Shows good motor to track down coverage sacks
-Consistently able to create separation against blockers, lock out and give himself space
-Great production with increased role in 2022
-Not an overly explosive, twitched-up defender on tape; testing numbers at Combine backed that up
-Tends to struggle with pad level, stands up out of his stance too often
-Overmatched when reduced inside in sub-package situations; can be washed out in run game when playing in three- or four-point
-Needs to continue to develop hand usage and establish a pass rush arsenal
-Wasn’t asked to do too much in coverage aside from occasional flat responsibilities
-Tends to stall out in pass rush after not winning initially with speed
-Some concerns about conditioning as a rotational piece; lots of hands on hips late in games despite limited snap counts
-Played in 26 career games, making 19 starts at Michigan
-Finished career with 37 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, one interception, one blocked kick, one forced fumble and five fumble recoveries
-Named Second-Team All-American (FWAA), Academic All-Big Ten, first-team All-Big Ten, Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2022
-Three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2020, ’21, ’22) at Michigan
-Recipient of the Richard Katcher Award that goes to the top offensive or defensive lineman each season at Michigan
-A former 3-star recruit in the 2019 class, No. 396 overall and the No. 27 defensive end in the country
-Father, Mike Morris Sr., was an offensive lineman at Florida State; sister played basketball at Georgetown
-Turns 22 years old on April 22
The Michigan Wolverines’ football program sure has a knack for churning out NFL-caliber pass rushers.
While he isn’t close to being on the same level as former first-round guys like Aidan Hutchison, David Ojabo, Kwity Paye and more in recent seasons, Mike Morris is the next in line for a solid career in the NFL as a rotational pass rusher after a great 2022 season in an elevated role.
After sitting behind Hutchison and Ojabo in recent seasons, Morris took advantage of his opportunity in 2022, recording 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, earning the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year award, putting him firmly on the radar of NFL teams.
Here against Maryland last season, Morris really gave fellow draft class member Jaelyn Duncan a handful.
In obvious passing situations Morris is able to eat up ground with a good get-off, making for a soft edge as a pass rusher. He’s also adept at getting smaller as he bends the corner, making for a smaller target to punch for linemen. He does a great job here of getting under Duncan’s punch, turning the corner and getting a hit on the Terrapins’ quarterback, helping force an incompletion.
He’s not the flashiest pass rusher, nor the most explosive, but I really like the way he’s able to convert speed to power in his game. Here against Duncan again, he’s able to close ground at the snap and get his heavy hands into Duncan’s chest, knocking him backwards into the pocket to make the play.
That’s a pretty impressive effort sack overall, one that will endear him at the next level. That motor runs pretty hot when he’s on the field. He’s constantly chasing plays down, whether that’s against the run or taking advantage of strong coverage on the back end to try and get a coverage sack.
When he’s on top of his game as a pass rusher, there’s some flashes of brilliance that are certainly intoxicating.
His performance against Iowa last season was rather good, and he flashed the ability to use his inside hand to knock down the blocker’s arms, get skinny and turn the corner for the sack.
Morris needs to continue to develop his hands, but there’s a lot to work with there for position coaches at the next level.
Where he does his best work though is as a run defender.
Teams just weren’t able to consistently run at his side throughout the season.
Both times, Morris does a good job of anchoring and locking out against the Penn State blockers, staying square to the line of scrimmage and then showcasing the ability to get off the block and make a play.
He’s much more comfortable doing that standing up than coming out of a three- or four-point stance. When he’s upright and locked out, he’s able to find the football and make plays with the best of them.
That said, there are times where he can get completely washed out of a play against the run.
Overall, there’s a lot to like with Morris, though it came in just one season of consistent work defensively. It’s certainly not his fault he was buried behind high-level NFL players at the position. It was good to see him break out in 2022 though and live up to his potential.
He’s a sound run defender overall, one that can set the edge, has a great feel for when to slide down the line and take on pulling blockers, and had great backside pursuit to make splash plays in the backfield at times. As a pass rusher, Morris is still coming into his own, but he’s shown the ability to create soft edges and turn the corner at times with his speed, and can have an impact with speed-to-power against big tackles that he’s able to get up underneath.
That said, he still has a long way to go overall. He needs to continue developing his hand usage rushing the passer to really have a chance to stick in the NFL. He’ll be able to play the run right away, but for Morris to really tape into his size, length and overall potential at the position, the hand usage has to take a significant jump.
He can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3, but he has much better tape standing up than with his hand(s) in the dirt. He could be a solid rotational OLB in a 3-4 right away, whether in a third or fourth spot on the depth chart, and should be able to hold his own on special teams early in his career thanks to his motor.
With his size, length and production in 2022, he feels like a solid project for teams to take on in the middle of Day 2, in the fourth or fifth-round range. The right landing spot for Morris could really help him develop into an impactful pass rusher like a Za’Darius Smith has at this point in his career.
Projection: Mid-Day 3 (Fourth Round)
Depot Draft Grade: 7.5 (Rotational Player)
Games Watched: Colorado State (2022), Maryland (2022), Iowa (2022), Penn State (2022), Ohio State (2022)