Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #27 Ben Braden

Ben Braden (image via
Name: Ben Braden
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 322 lbs.
High school: Rockford (MI) Rockford
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #71
Last year: I ranked Braden #23 and said he would start at left guard. He played in two games as a backup lineman.

Last year things were looking good for Braden coming out of the spring. He had every chance to play and spent the spring as the starting left guard. Then once the season started . . . nothing. I pegged him coming out of high school as too tall and stiff to be a guard, and maybe he was. That opened the door for Graham Glasgow (who eventually moved to center), Chris Bryant, Erik Magnuson, and Kyle Bosch to all start games at the left guard position. Even through that horrendous rotation, Braden remained on the sideline after the coaches appeared to realize that offensive guard just wasn't the right fit.

Michigan lost two offensive tackles (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield) to graduation, and fellow redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson looks poised to take Lewan's spot at left tackle. That leaves a potential battle at right tackle, where Braden would seem to be the odds-on favorite. However, Glasgow spent some time at right tackle in the spring, and there's a chance that he could supplant Braden at tackle if Jack Miller or Patrick Kugler can provide consistency at center. Recent comments from last year's opponents and scuttlebutt from Schembechler Hall say that Glasgow is probably Michigan's best lineman, so it will be a priority to get him on the field once he returns from a one-game suspension. If Miller or Kugler is the starter at center in week two, then Braden will probably find himself on the sideline yet again. Regardless, Braden should be a valuable player as the #2 or #3 tackle; not only could an injury at tackle put him into the lineup, but an injury on the interior could cause a reshuffling that sends Glasgow back to the middle and Braden onto the field.

Prediction: Starting right tackle


  1. Agree 100% with the assessment that Glasgow is UM's best OL. Thought he looked good as a first time starter at LG early in '13 - he is tall and strong, a natural drive-blocker, and probably has all-conference potential. They just have to get him out of the C spot. Braden looked stiff and tentative to me in the spring game at RT and thought Glasgow looked more confident there when he took over. So my dream scenario is for Kugler to get it together at C and allow Glasgow to plow people at RT.

  2. He could be valuable, if he can play. We haven't seen it from him, and the wishful thinking (from fans and the staff alike) reminds me of Jack Miller one year ago. Also there's the Kyle Kalis and Chris Bryant "he's going to be a huge mauler" thing.

    I see it as a huge indictment that he didn't play last year when the coaching staff was in total panic mode and spots were wide open. Lewan and Schofield were moving all around in goofy formations and Schofield was proven as a guard; but not a peep from Braden. Even now, it's not clear that he is one of the 7 or 8 best OLmen on the team.

    My prediction for Braden is that he starts some games but loses his job.

    My skepticism aside, I actually think Braden could be a few spots higher, just because OL is so important for this team. The OL is going to make or break this team's hopes for a Rose Bowl. IF he does pan out, it has major ramifications for the rest of the OL. The coaches appear to be giving him every opportunity. I really hope he locks down that RT spot for the next 3 years and my doubts are proven wrong.

  3. Too 'muscle bound' is I think a phrase we use to use in the old days, now they call it 'stiff'.. anyway it means he has a hard time blocking consistently, defenders shed his blocks basically. That's not good as it is the chief reason we lead the country in negative yardage plays.
    I hope some further time in the system helps with his technique and he one day will be solid starter. If it is this year, we better be ready for Gardner getting hurried or sacked and our RB's having trouble gaining positive yards.

  4. I just noticed something-Braden was not even ranked by Rivals.

    1. For some reason, they don't have a star rating for him. But yes, he was a 3-star to Rivals, and he was their #38 offensive tackle in the 2012 class.

    2. Well thanks for clearing that up. I refuse to believe recruiting rankings though.

      If you look at our best players on defense (Ryan, Henry, Clark, Morgan-woah, I just realized all of their last names are first names, too), all were ranked 3* by rivals, and all four of those have obviously outplayed their ranking. Also, I get Glasgow was a walk-on, but still he didn't even get a star by rivals, and may be our best offensive lineman and then you go to Funchess and Smith (DeVeon) who will both more than likely start this year and one of them who is a potential draft pick after his junior season were both ranked 3*'s, I mean that is just plain ridiculous.

      Then if you move over to players like Blake Bars, Terry Richardson and Tom Strobel whom were all ranked 4*'s and have played two full seasons, when all three have ONLY came in when there's been garbage time.

      Go to the 2011 recruiting class, where players have been on the roster for three full seasons, and are going in to their fourth season, and try to even explain how this makes sense:Justice Hayes is ranked the top recruit, followed by Brennen Beyer and Raymon Taylor. Not that Hayes, Beyer and Taylor are all bad players, but you have to admit, all three of them should have been 3* players.

      Now, if you look at 2014, at the top is obviously Peppers, who I should go on to say I think will be a tremendous player and will have absolutely no trouble finding the football field, however looking at previous classes it makes me weary of how good Mason Cole, Drake Harris, Ian Bunting and Michael Ferns III will actually be. Perhaps Freddy Canteen, Chase Winovich, Lawrence Marshall, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Maurice Wayes and Bryan Mone are the six players that will really shine from the 2014 class, since it appears looking at the past, the middle players in the rankings end up being the best.

    3. I think we are within striking distance of the best possible scenario for this program. That being so much depth at every position spread over 4/5 classes that by the time incoming freshmen reach the field, we will have forgotten their names let alone their star rankings.

      I for one will be delighted at this turn of events.

    4. Benjamin--There has been exhaustive work done on this by various stat-literate football bloggers. A 5-star has a much better chance than a 4-star of being all-conference, a high NFL pick, whatever metric you use, and a 4-star better than a 3-star. The only evidence offered on the other side are non-stat-literate journalists asserting "but the NFL first round has only three 5-stars and ten 3-stars!"...ignoring the fact that there are like 30 5-stars and hundreds and hundreds of 3-stars in a class. If you only want to use Michigan as an example, plenty of our big stars have had high recruiting ratings.

  5. Braden didn't see the field last year simply because it was proven he is a tackle only and Lewan-Schoefield never left the field. Braden will prove he is perfect for RT once he gets on the field on a regular basis. Count me as one who thinks he'll hold the RT spot for the next 3 years. I'm going to predict a starting line L-R of Magnuson-Dawson-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden (after game 1 where Miller starts at C).

    1. RT will be more critical next year as that will be the position protecting Morris from blind hits. Hopefully someone steps up, if it is Braden great, if not, someone has to protect the right flank for Morris.

    2. When that happens (assuming next year, not this one), the LT & RT would just swap positions.

    3. Schofield was a proven guard. With the shhhtstorm happening on the inside, rolling out walk-ons and true freshman, it's logical to conclude that Braden would have played at tackle if he was remotely ready.

      I'd be surprised if Dawson leaps ahead of Bosch, who might be our second best lineman.

      The LT/RT situation is a non-issue until Morris is the starter. There are already rumblings that Speight may pass him

    4. No need to switch them. I got it.