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Thursday, January 24, 2013
WolverineNation Roundtable

By Chantel Jennings, Tom VanHaaren & Michael Rothstein

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Every Thursday the WolverineNation writers discuss three important issues affecting Michigan sports. This week they look at some NFL draft stock, a possible Michigan basketball loss and the Wolverines’ next recruiting class.

1) You're an NFL coach. If you could draft Denard Robinson but only use him at one position, which would it be and why?

Denard Robinson
A still banged-up Denard Robinson has struggled at the Senior Bowl.
Michael Rothstein: Running back. He has shown the ability to have vision and break tackles along with accelerating at great speeds in the open field. It has yet to be proven he can catch -- something he could still do out of the backfield -- and lining him up at running back makes an occasional halfback option pass something other teams would have to be concerned about. It is, frankly, where he can be the most versatile.

Tom VanHaaren: I'm going to break the rules, because I don't think he'll play just one position. I would let him return kicks, put him at receiver and a little at running back. He's too versatile to limit him to one position, but I do think he would be better off on offense than defense.

Chantel Jennings: Wide receiver. I’d use him like the Packers have used Randall Cobb. Like Cobb, Robinson has great hands and will be most devastating to opponents after the ball is in his hands, in open space. And he’s a bit undersized like Cobb (Cobb is 5-foot-10, 192 pounds; Robinson is 5-10, 196 pounds), so that could really be a blueprint for how Robinson could be successful at the next level.

2) What one game will the Michigan basketball team lose that it shouldn't?

Rothstein: The Big Ten is so deep this year that despite Michigan's talent, there are many 50-50 games, in my opinion. If I were to pick one which might look odd, though, it would be at Wisconsin. Michigan is without a doubt more talented than the Badgers, but playing on the road in Madison has never been kind to the Wolverines -- and Bo Ryan has his team playing well right now. That will be a sneaky game for Michigan in a few weeks.

VanHaaren: Ohio State at home. Hear me out, I don't think it's very probable but it seems like one that could happen. If Aaron Craft does what he does and one or two other Buckeyes really get hot, then Michigan could be in for a tight game. The Wolverines should be able to close out close games, especially at home, but if they don't improve enough there, I think the maturity of the Buckeyes could prove just barely enough for a regular-season sweep.

Jennings: Michigan State at home. Let’s be serious, the Wolverines shouldn’t lose any home games, but at this point in the season the Spartans will be fighting for a much more favorable conference tournament seeding, and where better to make that point than Crisler Arena? I think behind inspired performances from Gary Harris, Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, Michigan State could leave Ann Arbor with a very close win.

3) If Michigan could land one 2014 recruit early, who would it be and why?

Rothstein: Malik McDowell (Detroit/Loyola). He is someone who has always appeared to be extremely interested in Michigan and considering Brady Hoke's policy with committed recruits and visits, locking up one of the best players in the state early on will only be a help for the Wolverines.

VanHaaren: Michigan is in the top five for defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), and he’s planning on visiting for spring practice and then taking his official visit for the Notre Dame game next season. He isn't making a decision early, but if there were one guy whom Michigan wishes it could land early, it might be him. Hand was one of three juniors that was invited to The Opening last summer and is going to be one of the top prospects nationally.

Jennings: Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake). And not because he’s the best prospect out there (he’s very, very good, don’t get me wrong), but Cole could be just the tip of the iceberg as far as Michigan is concerned with East Lake. If the Wolverines can snag Cole, I think their odds are better with 2014 WR Artavis Scott as well as their teammate 2015 WR George Campbell Jr. Hello, pipeline.