|Brennen Beyer is headed to new position, along with a few other Wolverines
(image via AnnArbor.com)
Here are my summative thoughts on these things:
Beyer has always looked to me more like a defensive end than an outside linebacker. When I found out last fall that he and Frank Clark (who had flipped from outside linebacker to defensive end) had exchanged positions, it seemed strange to me that Beyer would move away from the defensive line. Although the SAM linebacker in this defense is mostly a pass rusher, he still has some coverage responsibilities. Beyer has always reminded me of Craig Roh, and while Roh was fairly lithe as a 235-240 lb. freshman, he's lost some of that agility with added weight. I'm not suggesting that Beyer will eventually be a strongside end, too, but he seemed out of place at linebacker. And despite the fact that he ascended to Jake Ryan's primary backup at SAM, that was at least partly because Cam Gordon suffered through a back injury for much of the season.
Beyer will be fighting with sophomore Frank Clark for the starting weakside end position. Clark ended the 2011 season on a high note with some stellar play in the Sugar Bowl. That end position has, of course, been vacated by Roh. When he was younger, I assumed that Roh would settle in around 255 lbs. or so and remain at weakside end. However, the coaches wanted him up around 270 lbs. this past season, and he just can't maintain his old speed at that weight. With the graduation of Ryan Van Bergen, the strongside end position needed an influx of talent (and I have yet to join the Nathan Brink bandwagon). Roh will be the likely starter at SDE with guys like redshirt freshman Keith Heitzman and redshirt sophomore Brink battling there, too.
As for the move of Black to 3-tech defensive tackle, I will say that I've been slightly underwhelmed by his play so far. He should have been redshirted as a freshman in 2010 so he could add bulk, but unfortunately he was needed immediately. Now he's entering his junior year when he should be just a redshirt sophomore. Black made a couple solid plays (most notably against Ohio State) from the weakside end position, but he's a liability in open space. The SDE and 3-tech positions are somewhat interchangeable, and since Roh will presumably be starting at SDE, then it makes sense that the shorter, more powerfully built Black will likely be settling in at 3-tech. Not only does this make room for Clark, Beyer, and freshmen to contribute at weakside end, but it also provides competition at defensive tackle, where Michigan is somewhat undermanned.
The move of Paskorz to tight end is probably the least controversial of the changes. Paskorz played tight end in high school, and he was buried on the depth chart at outside linebacker. Steve Watson proved to us that mediocre athletes can get on the field as a second or third tight end and make an impact, so there's a very good chance that he'll see the field in the fall. Will he ever be a starter quality tight end? My guess is no, but at least he provides depth.
Overall, I think these moves will serve the team well. And with Michigan's lack of depth and experience along the defensive line, several of these moves are almost out of necessity. This is simply the natural evolution of a college football team.