|Jibreel Black (#55)|
Weight: 279 lbs.
High school: Cincinnati (OH) Wyoming
Position: Defensive tackle
Jersey number: #55
Last year: I ranked Black #23 and said he would be a backup defensive end. He made 18 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble as a backup defensive end.
Black had a decent season in 2011, but has yet to have a breakout year. Ideally, he would have redshirted as a freshman in 2010, but a shortage of defensive linemen forced him into action that year. Michigan's coaching staff reportedly wanted him to bulk up prior to spring 2011, but he came in weighing around 260, anyway; it seems he balked at playing too heavy in hopes of retaining some athleticism. That got him off on the wrong foot a little bit, which helped solidify Craig Roh as the starting weakside end last season. Black saw his fair share of snaps in 2011, and even had a signature play when he helped sack Braxton Miller on a key goal-line play late against Ohio State. But in general, he was a little too stiff and slow at that WDE position and the coaches asked him to bulk up even more for a move to 3-tech defensive tackle.
It's quite a leap from weakside end to 3-tech tackle. He should be familiar with the position, having played next to Will Heininger last year. But a normal progression would be to strongside end, but Roh already took that spot. The hope is that Black can use his quickness to outmaneuver some offensive guards, which he'll have to do if he wants to make an impact as a 279 lb. tackle. Black's size doesn't really concern me, because plenty of 3-techs have been just fine around 280 lbs. The biggest thing that concerns me about Black is the technique; he'll have to get better at using his hands inside to get rid of blocks. Options are limited for quality play at the 3-tech. There aren't really any quality backups at the position, but I don't know that Black will be a quality starter this year, either. He's essentially playing his third position in three years (SDE as a freshman, WDE as a sophomore, and now DT), so it might take him another year to get comfortable on the interior. Quinton Washington, Richard Ash, and Ken Wilkins might also see some time there, but all three are very unproven as even part-time contributors.
Prediction: Starting defensive tackle; 25 tackles, 3 sacks