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Michigan Searching for an Identity in the NFL

For such a storied tradition, the Michigan Wolverines have recently absorbed a string of woes spanning numerous facets of the game.

Not only have the Maize and Blue tiptoed the brinks of irrelevancy in the Big-10, the failure to produce an identity in the NFL has haunted those that stroll the streets of Ann Arbor.

And that’s prior to the dilapidation of the Lloyd Carr era.

Highlighting the star power makes for a waltz in the park: Tom Brady, Charles Woodson, Jason Avant, LaMarr Woodley. All successful and a wave a few Super Bowl rings in the mix as well.

But after you scan that scroll, its few and far between.

Holding back some rough language and frustration of the decade, I sincerely miss the days of the mid-2000s Wolverines.

20 November 2011: San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Braylon Edwards (17) misses a pass as the San Francisco 49ers lead the Arizona Cardinals 9-0 after the first half at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Ca ***FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY****

Michigan’s Braylon Edwards has been a major disappointment in the NFL.

From Braylon Edwards torturing the hearts and demeanor alike of anyone embroidered in Sparty gear, to Brent Musberger’s signature “touchdown, Manningham!” as Chad Henne drilled a bullet on the post to conquer Penn State with no time on the clock, it’s strictly a shame that the names once booming over the Big House speakers failed to folly over to the NFL.

You can trace back Mario Manningham to Super Bowl XLVI and intertwine his stellar 38-yard reception, which subsequently set up Eli Manning’s late-game heroics to bereave Bill Belichick and the Pats as hefty underdogs, to the win itself.

Now, injuries and setbacks result in surfing Wikipedia to inspect if Manningham landed on an NFL practice squad. Close, but no cigar–Super Mario lies as an available free agent.

Henne spent his days in the Jaguar jumble, only to browse the 2014 draft and hear Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles be selected by Jacksonville with their first pick. It’s safe to claim that unless a team desperately seeks refuge of a quarterback (even then Henne would reluctantly have to seemingly backup), his stint as a starter lies bleak.

Off-field obstacles and finding his niche atop the league with 23 dropped passes in 2008, Edwards’ makeup in the NFL resembles nothing more than a cloud of dust for the once All-American. Those off-field issues were made worse this week when he was cited for an “extreme DUI”, according to TMZ.

Denard Robinson stamped his notoriety on the campus of Ann Arbor with a series of records including eight of the top-10 total yard finishes by game, but it’s difficult finding light at the end of the tunnel for a quarterback transitioning to running back, which is what Robinson is trying to do for Jacksonville.

09 May 2015: Second round pick Devin Funchess from Michigan during drills at Carolina Panthers Mini Camp held at  Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Will Devin Funchess be the next success or is he bound to be another bust for Michigan players in the NFL?

In terms of the hog mollies up front, Taylor Lewan should set himself up for a nice career in Tennessee–that’s a bright spot.

But what about the former first overall pick in Jake Long?

Four Pro Bowls and two ACL tears later, the Rams cut ties with the offensive tackle, making Long a free agent. It’s rather tough to determine whether an elite athlete can overcome the mental and physical side effects from blowing out the same knee on multiple occasions.

Also, New England DT Alan Branch endured somewhat of an incarnation in 2014, earning a Super Bowl ring alongside former Wolverine Tom Brady. The Pats then constructed a two-year deal for Branch to inscribe his presence out east for the next handful of seasons.

Up next? Notables from Michigan selected in the 2015 NFL Draft go as far as WR Devin Funchess, LB Jake Ryan, and ATH Devin Gardner.

Many perceive Funchess as the front runner to excel at the next level given his size and athleticism. He’ll be paired with fellow receiver Kelvin Benjamin, providing some massive targets for Cam Newton.

Whether it’s luck of the draw for Michigan athletes at the professional platform or not, let’s pray New England drafts all the Wolverine products from here on out.

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