Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (2023)

We ranked the position groups earlier in the year, but with the 2023 season just over a week away, we know a lot more about what team Michigan football will be fielding.

There are few questions on this team, but there are questions. Most position groups look incredible on paper, but some have more experience and proven themselves on the field than others, while some will be working in newer talent.

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The increments between each is close, and just because one position group is near the bottom doesn’t mean it’s not well off. Because this team is just that deep.

That said, here is our final 2023 preseason position rankings.


Wide receivers

Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (1)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Oddly, this was one of the top position groups on our list last year, and while it’s not at all in a bad place, there are a lot of questions.

Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson were the top two receivers in 2021, a year when the Wolverines won the Big Ten. Both return, but both need to be more consistent. But this ranking has less to do with the two former four-stars and more to do with questions surrounding them.

Gone is Andrel Anthony, who was incredibly inconsistent last year, and Ronnie Bell has gone to the NFL. Now the Wolverines will be hoping that a mixture of Tyler Morris, Darrius Clemons, Peyton O’Leary, Fredrick Moore, Karmello English, and Semaj Morgan will step up and stand out. All but three of the above were four-star recruits, but not one of them has shown up in games as of yet — but none have really had a chance to.

For us, this position group is the biggest question mark on the team, but perhaps could move way up in the positional rankings by midseason.



Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (2)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Michigan has one standout at cornerback in Will Johnson, but we still don’t know who will play opposite him. While he should have his side of the field locked down, a unit is only as good as its weakest link.

Josh Wallace, the transfer from UMass, will likely have the inside track, but Michigan wants Amorion Walker to step up into the role. The good news is he’ll have time, but he’ll also be pushed by Ja’Den McBurrows and Myles Pollard.

At the moment, it’s still a big question mark, and while nickel Mike Sainristil could step into the role of corner and likely thrive, that would put the safeties (nickel is considered a safety position) at a potential disadvantage.


Edge rushers

Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (3)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Edge rusher outside of Jaylen Harrell is unproven, but this is a group with an incredible amount of potential. Braiden McGregor has the opportunity, with his athleticism and size, to be that next, great Michigan edge rusher. Josaiah Stewart is two years removed from 12.5 sacks at Coastal Carolina and Derrick Moore is entering his second year.

That’s an incredible rotation on paper, but the game isn’t played on paper. After losing Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo following the 2021 season, Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie both did a good job, but not great. And yet, both are gone. So it will be interesting to see if this new group can get the Wolverine edge rushers to be more in line with the elite corps that Jim Harbaugh has fielded throughout the bulk of his tenure in Ann Arbor.


Tight ends

Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (4)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

That tight end is near the bottom than the top speaks more to the position groups ahead of it than otherwise.

Last year, Michigan entered the year with Erick All and Luke Schoonmaker as the starters. Yet, the Wolverines shouldn’t miss either given the duo of Colston Loveland and AJ Barner. Max Bredeson has been a great H-back, and Matthew Hibner has been patiently waiting his turn.

There’s a good chance that the starting tight end duo could outperform the wide receivers, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Loveland, in particular, bursts onto the national scene in his second year.


Defensive tackles

Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (5)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

This group has some younger pieces, but it’s not unproven. Led by Kris Jenkins — who will make the case for the best defensive tackle in the country — there are four to five more players who will be in rotation: Cam Goode, Mason Graham, Kenneth Grant, Rayshaun Benny, and Reece Atteberry.

Graham was stellar in his freshman campaign and Benny started to get his bearings late last year. Atteberry switched over in fall camp and is reportedly making solid progress. Grant shed 20 pounds and expects to be more of an every-down lineman.

This group is perhaps the most exciting on the defense and has a good mixture of veteran leadership in Jenkins, and players who were making names for themselves before earning bigger roles.



Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (6)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

This position group would be higher, but behind J.J. McCarthy, there’s no obvious answer as to who could step up if he went down. But it’s also a group that’s this high because of McCarthy’s capability.

The former five-star had a solid first year as a starter and is expected to propel this team to the next level. Jim Harbaugh has called him a generational talent and he can make every throw he’s asked to.

But who’s next? Davis Warren? Jack Tuttle? Alex Orji? It’s unclear and it’s also unclear that if McCarthy was unable to suit up if any of those backups would be able to beat Penn State or Ohio State.

The top spot is in good hands and McCarthy missed no time with injury last year. We’ll see if he can continue to stay healthy while improving his game year over year.



Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (7)

Photo by: Isaiah Hole

Junior Colson is poised for a breakout year in year three, but he still might not be the best linebacker on the roster.

A transfer from Nebraska, Ernest Hausmann has tons of raw talent and will be surrounded by more talent than he was in Lincoln. Mike Barrett took a giant step forward last year. Jimmy Rolder and Jaydon Hood should be better this year, as well.

This is a group that went from the bottom of the list last year to near the top, and that’s because it’s loaded with talent and has a solid rotation.



Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (8)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

This group is super deep. The safety position returns all three of its starters: Rod Moore, Makari Paige, and nickel Mike Sainristil. And there’s a solid group of younger players who are poised to step in behind them in Keon Sabb and Zeke Berry.

Yes, the Wolverines lost RJ Moten to Florida, but this is a group that is deep, solid, and should strike fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks.


Running backs

Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (9)

Photo by: Isaiah Hole

Yes, running back is No. 2. Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards comprise the best running back duo in the country and the Wolverines have an embarrassment of riches in having them. However, the reason why this isn’t the best group is because when both were out with injury last year, the maize and blue struggled to move the ball against Illinois. Granted, that was an incredible defense, but the difference between Corum, Edwards and the field is potentially vast.

We need to see more from C.J. Stokes, Tavierre Dunlap, and the freshman duo of Benjamin Hall and Cole Cabana before we can move this position up to No. 1. Especially considering how loaded the No. 1 group is.


Offensive line

Final 2023 Michigan football position group rankings (10)

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Three of last year’s starters to begin the season return, but that’s not all. The following have started games for Michigan: Zak Zinter, Trente Jones, Karsen Barnhart, Trevor Keegan, Giovanni El-Hadi, and Jeff Persi. That’s not even mentioning three transfers who were starters at their former teams: Drake Nugent and Myles Hinton at Stanford, and LaDarius Henderson at Arizona State. Also, if not for this depth, Michigan could have Andrew Gentry and Greg Crippen step in as first-time starters and the Wolverines wouldn’t skip a beat — perhaps Raheem Anderson, also.

The maize and blue could roll out whatever it considers its second line and still likely have the best offensive line in the conference. This is maybe the best offensive line Jim Harbaugh has had on paper, which is saying a lot considering its coming off of two-straight Joe Moore Awards.

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