These five Michigan Wolverines football players are most impacted by the Big Ten's cancellation of football.
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The 5 U-M Players Most Impacted By The Big Ten's Cancellation Of Football

The cancellation of the fall Big Ten football season has undoubtedly thrown a wrench into the NFL hopes of numerous Michigan Wolverines players, as well as other athletes with pro potential around the league.

Perhaps no U-M players are impacted more, however, than the veterans who were already viewed as fringe NFL draft picks come next April, and could have used the 2020 season to boost their stocks significantly.

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Michigan Wolverines football TE Nick Eubanks
Michigan Wolverines football TE Nick Eubanks was a four-star prospect out of high school. (AP Images)
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While it's hard not to feel for the veteran U-M seniors like wideout Nico Collins and defensive end Kwity Paye, for example, they will still get drafted. The two have already done enough on the field to cause an NFL organization to select them with a fairly high pick.

The fringe NFL prospects who have been seniors and fifth-year seniors this fall, on the flip side, will likely never have another chance to boost their draft status. Everyone else on the team — the juniors, redshirt juniors, sophomores, etc. — can at least return again in 2021 and take advantage of future opportunities to put their talents on display.

A quick look at Michigan's 2020 roster reveals that the following five veterans are the players who are most impacted (in regards to their NFL futures) by the Big Ten's cancellation — fifth-year senior senior tight end Nick Eubanks, fifth-year senior running back Chris Evans, senior safety Brad Hawkins, fifth-year senior defensive tackle Carlo Kemp and senior cornerback Ambry Thomas.

All are viewed as fringe NFL draft hopefuls, and all have likely played their final games in a Michigan uniform.

Four of the five were expected to win starting jobs in 2020 (Evans being the lone exception), which would have obviously created a tremendous opportunity to boost their NFL draft stocks.

Any of the five could potentially still be chosen come April, but none are surefire selections the way Collins and Paye are. The 2020 season would have been especially important for Evans in particular, who was suspended for all of 2019 for off-the-field issues.

It's hard to imagine being drafted now when considering he will not have seen any live football game action in a year and a half come next April. Many view Kemp, meanwhile, as a bit of an undersized defensive tackle at 6-3, 286, but a dominant 2020 campaign on Michigan's interior could have pushed him into the NFL Draft's later rounds.

Eubanks has the athletic skills at the position to succeed as a tight end in the NFL, but has never been "the guy" at the spot at Michigan (his 243 receiving yards last year were the most he'd ever had in a season).

The fifth-year senior was finally set to be the clear cut No. 1 option at tight end in 2020, and was expected to serve as one of the team's top pass catchers. Hawkins was stellar as a starter last year in U-M's secondary, and while in-depth outlets like Pro Football Focus realized how good he was, he was often overshadowed from a national perspective.

Another year as a starting safety would have been ideal for him to boost his draft status and potentially become a middle-round pick.

Thomas, finally, may be the most surprising name on the list above. Even though he was dominant in coverage, his 6-0, 183-pound stature may give NFL teams hesitation. A similar scenario occurred to cornerback Lavert Hill this past spring; despite being a three-year starter in Ann Arbor, he went undrafted in April, with his 5-11, 182-pound body being one of the primary reasons why.

The focus will soon turn to whether or not the NCAA will allow seniors and fifth-year seniors to return in 2021, but the odds of that occurring don't seem likely at this point.


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