|Ben Braden (image via Twitter)|
Weight: 318 lbs.
High school: Rockford (MI) Rockford
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #71
Last year: I ranked Braden #67 and said he would be a backup right tackle. He redshirted.
When Braden hit campus in 2012, he was a man mountain. Most high school offensive linemen need to add size, but not him. Despite being a good size already, Michigan's linemen remained healthy throughout the year. He redshirted, but by the time spring rolled around, he was perhaps the most talked about replacement lineman entering the season. With both offensive tackles returning from 2013, Braden moved into the left guard spot for the spring and started the spring scrimmage there.
Taylor Lewan stated this summer that Braden is a freak athlete, and we're likely to see his combination of athleticism and size starting at left guard; head coach Brady Hoke recently confirmed that he was the front-runner for that position. Any redshirt freshman lineman is bound to struggle at times, and there are some potentially viable backups, such as redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant. Braden should do okay as a run blocker, because he can stay pretty low for a 6'6" guy, but pass protection is usually where young guys struggle. It will probably be an up-and-down year for the offensive line unit, and I expect Braden to play well against the lesser units and struggle against the Notre Dames and Ohio States of the world.
Prediction: Starting left guard