June 27, 2016
ANN ARBOR — Pro Football Focus consistently ranked Michigan All-American Jourdan Lewis as its top cornerback in the country last season.
And moving into the 2016 campaign, the scouting site has slotted the junior corner as one of the top players — regardless of position — in America.
PFF’s college site ranked Lews as the No. 7 player nationally heading into 2016 — the best corner and the fourth-best defender in the nation.
“The top-graded cornerback in the nation last year at +22.3, Lewis broke out by leading the FBS with 15 passes defensed (per PFF’s records) while surrendering only 36.7 percent of his targets to be completed, good for fifth-best. Perhaps most impressive was his ability to maintain his strong play from start to finish in 2015, despite facing 90 targets, 10th-most in the nation,” the site explained. “He’s excellent at staying “in-phase” with receivers when playing press coverage and he does a nice job of reading the receiver’s hands to make plays on the ball. Lewis will get too physical at times, but it’s that kind of tenacity that allows him to hold about against bigger receivers.
“He added strong play against the run at +5.4 (19th in nation) and he missed only four of his 53 tackle attempts. It’s unlikely Lewis will see another 90 targets next season as opposing offenses will likely look to avoid him much more than they did in 2015.”
Lewis is slotted two spots ahead of 2015’s Thorpe Award winner (and fellow Detroit native) Iowa’s Desmond King.
He’s also not the only Michigan prospect on PFF’s top 101 players for next season.
Safety/linebacker/corner Jabrill Peppers came in at No. 16 overall. The 2015 Big Ten’s freshman of the year will take on a new role this season in Don Brown’s defense, playing more inside the box as a hybrid linebacker.
He’ll also still go through rotations in the defensive backfield and at various spots on offense.
“Peppers adds a movable chess piece to the Michigan defense as he’s capable of matching up with slot receivers and tight ends and he’s comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage in the run game,” PFF wrote. “Regardless of position, Peppers is a playmaker and we may see even more of him on the offensive side of the ball next season.”
A bit of a surprise to some may be Michigan’s third player on the list: Junior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst at No. 27.
PFF rated Hurst (who is a fourth-year junior) as a potential draft prospect next spring after he finished 2015 with the third-best grade for an interior defensive lineman (per PFF’s records).
Fifth-year senior defensive lineman Chris Wormley comes in at No. 31.
The only other Michigan player on the list is fifth-year senior defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow, who checks in at No. 72.