ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Rashan Gary didn’t participate in Michigan’s pro day. He was still the star attraction.
His mere presence was enough to draw focus. Gary is, after all an expected top 10 NFL draft pick.
Gary isn’t the only Wolverines defender who can flat play. The Raiders' staff on-hand surely saw that from linebacker Devin Bush, edge rusher Chase Winovich and cornerback David Long, respected prospects who won’t last too long in the NFL draft.
Gary will be one of the first off the board. Bush won’t last much longer.
The linebacker is a sure tackler and quality cover man who is battling the perception he’s too small to excel in the NFL. That’s why #undersized goes on all video of his excellent combine work and positional drills at Michigan’s pro day.
Bush, often viewed as the second-best off-the-ball linebacker behind LSU’s Devin White – Bush says he’s better, as you’d expect -- but is likely first round pick who could be a Raiders option at Nos. 24 or 27 overall.
Bush said he has met with 30 teams during the pre-draft process, including the Raiders.
Bush is done with most of his pre-draft work except for some official team visits, and believes he put a positive foot forward leading up to the draft.
“It’s stressful, but you have to enjoy the process,” Bush said Friday at Michigan’s Schembechler Hall. “I feel like my film speaks for itself. I’m fast, versatile and can tackle. I have a ton of range. I think I play the game the right way. I think teams see that as well.”
Long has met with the Raiders. At 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds, he’s built in the team’s preferred mold. He’s viewed as a Day 2, or maybe a Day 3 selection after a strong combine where he showed agility and solid change of direction.
NFL teams requested Winovich do drills as a defensive lineman and linebacker at Michigan’s pro day, a last-minute surprise to the man himself. He did them both, trying to build off a solid combine he hopes raised some eyebrows.
“I hope it forces teams to change their perception of me,” Winovich said, “to go back and re-look at tape and see that I’m athlete playing smart football and making plays.”
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He made plenty of big plays at Michigan. He had five sacks in 2018 and 18 total over the past three seasons as a weakside edge rusher. He also had 43 career tackles for loss. The Raiders desperately need production off the edge, where he has been a tireless pass rusher and run defender. Tireless can be a compliment, but Winovich has worked to erase the perception he's just, as he puts it, “a try-hard white guy.”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a ‘try-hard white guy,’” Winovich said. “Lots of people make great careers out of it. It’s a good thing, but I’m trying to make the case that I’m that, but I’m also this. I’m also an athlete. You can have a motor that doesn’t stop while also possessing elite level quickness and agility. That’s what I have been trying to show through this process.”