Michigan is in the College Football Playoff for the first time ever and won the Big Ten for the first time since 2004. By the program’s standards, it has been a bad last couple of decades, but that might be in the process of changing. But plenty of Michigan Wolverines have entered the succeeded in the NFL during that span.
These are the top five former Michigan Wolverines doing their thing in the NFL right now, from first to fifth.
Top 5 Michigan Wolverines in the NFL
5: Cesar Ruiz (G, New Orleans Saints)
Cesar Ruiz may be the youngest player on my list, but he’s been the most consistent NFL player to recently come out of Michigan. In Ann Arbor, he started 31 of 36 games over three years and received All- Big Ten honors twice in 2018 and 2019. He was drafted No. 24 overall in 2020 by the New Orleans Saints and has started in 20 of 26 games as a pro, cementing himself as an important piece of the Saints offensive line.
4: Taylor Lewan (OT, Tennessee Titans)
An absolute mountain of a man at 6-foot-7, 309 pounds, Taylor Lewan is well-known for his personality, size, and distinct arm tattoos. The former two-time All-American at Michigan was drafted No. 11 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
Lewan has played all seven of his pro seasons with the Titans, including three-consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2016-2018. He has cemented himself as one of many successful offensive linemen who have come through Ann Arbor.
3: Frank Clark (DE, Kansas City Chiefs)
Drafted in 2015, Frank Clark had a solid start to his career with the Seattle Seahawks but has flourished since joining the Kansas City Chiefs, earning Pro Bowl trips in his first two seasons with the two (2019 and 2020).
Clark’s time at Michigan was non-traditional. He found himself in occasional legal trouble and was ultimately dismissed from the program during his sophomore year. Legal trouble aside, the NFL couldn’t ignore his talent, and he was drafted No. 63 overall in 2015.
In his pro career, Clark has so far played in 101 games and tallied 218 tackles (150 solo), 51.5 sacks, 57 tackles for loss, 13 forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
2: Brandon Graham (DE, Philadelphia Eagles)
Brandon Graham is currently sidelined with a torn Achilles, but he has been a force in the NFL for 12 seasons at this point.
In Ann Arbor, Graham was a multi-year starter and finished his college career in 2009 as the Big Ten MVP, First Team All-Conference, and First Team All-American. As a pro, he’s been an All-Pro player, appeared in a Pro Bowl, and helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2018. For his NFL career, Graham has played in 161 games and racked up 394 tackles (292 solo) and 59 sacks, plus forced 20 fumbles.
1: Tom Brady (QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
You had to have known this was coming.
Tom Brady is unequivocally the greatest quarterback who’s ever lived – he’s become synonymous with the term GOAT (greatest of all time).
In his time at Michigan, he started deep on the depth chart, serving as understudy to Brian Griese during the undefeated national championship season in 1997. Through hard work, counseling, and pure determination, he earned himself the starting role for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Brady was famously drafted in the sixth round by the Patriots, where he was initially backup to Drew Bledsoe. Once Brady earned his starting role, he never relinquished it, ultimately becoming the winningest quarterback in NFL history, a seven-time Pro Bowler and seven-time Super Bowl champion.
There are many more than five former Michigan Wolverines in the NFL right now, but I only had space for five on this list. However, players like Michael Onwenu (G, New England Patriots), Jabril Peppers (SS, New York Giants), Rashan Gary (OLB, Green Bay Packers), and Jourdan Lewis (CB, Dallas Cowboys) deserve to have their names mentioned as some of the best NFL talent to pass through The Big House.