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Nobody Knows Michigan's Prospects Better Than Ravens' John Harbaugh


Michigan prospects littered the media room at the Indianapolis Convention Center last week during the NFL's Scouting Combine. Jim Harbaugh's program had 14 players invited to the combine, more than any other school in the country.

The Wolverines are expected to have a couple of first-round picks in this year's class – some have been connected to the Ravens in recent mock drafts – and Baltimore's Head Coach John Harbaugh doesn't have any trouble getting the inside scoop on those prospects.

"Do I talk to Jim about those guys? Yeah," Harbaugh said at the combine. "I have a pretty good handle on all of those guys based on what Jim thinks."

Pass rusher Taco Charlton and safety Jabrill Peppers are the Michigan players linked to the Ravens as options with the No. 16 overall pick.

Charlton, who stands in at 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds, has the ability to develop into a premier pass rusher. He had a breakout senior season with 10 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, and could give the Ravens a long-term replacement for aging outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

Charlton likes the idea of moving from one Harbaugh to another.

"I loved playing for Jim Harbaugh," he said. "I would love to play for John Harbaugh just because I know how Coach [Jim] Harbaugh was for us, and he has that same passion for football."

Peppers is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year's draft class because he's a bit of a wild-card. He played virtually every position in college, including safety, linebacker, cornerback, quarterback, running back and returner.

The 5-foot-11, 213 pounder best projects as a safety at the NFL level. When asked at the combine what he expects to play in the pros, Peppers told reporters, "What do I look like? I'm a safety."

Baltimore wants to add players on the back end of the defense, and the versatile Peppers credited Jim Harbaugh with getting him ready to make the leap to the NFL.

"He definitely did a great job of preparing us," Peppers said. "We couldn't have asked for anyone better to fill the void when Coach [Brady] Hoke left. He was hard on us, he made it business-like and [made us experience] what we can expect at the next level. And I'm more than grateful for that."

Some of the other prospects from Michigan likely to be drafted are defensive end Chris Wormley, tight end Jake Butt, cornerback Jourdan Lewis and defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow.

Harbaugh is entering his third year as Michigan's head coach, and the Ann Arbor-to-Baltimore pipeline actually started last season when the Ravens drafted defensive lineman Willie Henry in the fourth round. Henry didn't see any game action last season and ultimately ended up on injured reserve in November. Former Michigan outside linebacker Brennen Beyer has also been on the roster the last two seasons after joining the Ravens as an undrafted free agent.

It wouldn't come as a shock if Henry and Beyer welcomed another former member of the Maize and Blue to Baltimore this year. 

"It would mean a lot [to play for the Ravens]," Charlton said. "Coach [Jim] Harbaugh is a guy that I've loved to play for in the last two years. He changed how Michigan was respected in the NCAA and then everybody started to start fearing Michigan again."

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