Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #38 Taco Charlton

Taco Charlton and Mario Ojemudia
Name: Taco Charlton
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 275 lbs.
High school: Pickerington (OH) Central
Position: Defensive end
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #33
Last year: I ranked Charlton #46 and said he would be a backup weakside end. He played in ten games and made 2 tackles with .5 tackles for loss.

Charlton was a bit player last season when Michigan had pretty solid depth at weakside end. He found himself behind Frank Clark - a second team all-conference player - and an experienced backup in Mario Ojemudia. The big question mark about Charlton has always been his technical refinement, but his athleticism is enough to make up for some of his deficiencies. This spring he moved to strongside end, which is more fitting of a guy who's 6'6" and 275 lbs.

Unfortunately for Charlton, he's still behind senior Brennen Beyer, who moved from the weak side to the strong side late last year. Michigan's move to the 4-3 Over means the strongside end is more of an edge guy than an end/tackle hybrid, and that fits Michigan's defensive end personnel, which consists of a bunch of semi-proven weakside ends and a handful of (unproven) end/tackle hybrids. Consequently, the Wolverines' top four defensive ends are all current or former weakside guys. Charlton should get plenty of run as a second-stringer this year; he has a higher upside than Beyer, but the coaching staff is partial to seniors, so the younger man's superiority must be blatantly obvious before he can supplant Beyer.

Prediction: Backup strongside end; 20 tackles, 2 sacks


  1. I like Beyer and while I believe him to be better than a placeholder, it is my fervent hope that Taco methodically nibbles away at his minutes and becomes a starter by the time the conference season rolls around.

    Everyone is clamoring for sacks from the Defensive Line and I don't disagree, as sacks are both fun and obviously helpful to your pass defense, but I believe that we have to become a lot tougher to run against and to my way of thinking this kid is one of the keys for this year's team. If we can consistently hold or better yet cave in the strong side edge our quick and instinctive LBs will drop some Running Backs for some losses that we couldn't make happen last year, thus making everything better. I think Charlton is our better chance to get that done.

  2. Agree with your point about the new defense making guys like Taco more edge-players. I think he would have struggled to hold up at the old 5-tech spot, as he is not the most stout player yet. He spent a good deal of time on the ground last year - darn near every time I noticed him running a T-E loop stunt, the OG or C buried him without much trouble. But in the 4-3 over, he will be in a better position to compete with Beyer, who is not an easy guy to move off the ball, but is not the most gifted pass rusher.

    Hopefully this year, Taco can add strength and improve against the run some, in preparation for a starting role in 2015. Did not see him do much outside rushing last year (GMatt loves looping the DL), so I look forward to seeing what he can do there. Love Taco's physical potential.

    1. Thought that I was the only one who noticed Taco on the groung on jast about every play he was in last year and for the most part agree although I like Beyer a little more. He is a max effort guy that seems to make some plays

    2. Beyer is a max effort guy...who has made VERY few plays in three years of significant playing time. Practically the lone exception is his INT TD last year.

  3. Hope we see Taco on pass-rushing downs when Frank Clark can move inside.

  4. I think you nailed the write-up. The ranking seems a bit low though, given all you said - he flashed some nice talent his freshman year, has great size, and is moving to what seems like his natural position. Typically freshman who play at a position with depth means they'll have future success.

    Yes, he's blocked by Beyer and Clark maybe Ojemudia is ahead of him too, but there's a ton of rotation at end and Charlton's other challengers at SDE specifically look uninspiring. Beyer hasn't shown much pass rush ability through 3 seasons and Charlton also rushed from the interior at times last year. I suspect his role will be more than your typical backup and his upside seems very high as a guy with the quicks to rush and the size to be an asset in the run game. Excited to see what he can do.