The scouting report of Michigan football standout Mike Morris preparing for the 2023 NFL draft.
Mike Morris didn’t burst onto the scene when he arrived in Michigan and immediately took off for Michigan football.
Mike Morris was one of those late bloomers, patiently waiting in the starting blocks for his time to shine while defenders like Josh Uche, David Ojabo, Aidan Hutchinson, Mike Danna, Kwity Paye etc were all above him on the depth chart.
It wasn’t until his senior season that he finally got a chance to show his skills, but Mike Morris hasn’t disappointed this year.
He finished the year with 7 1/2 sacks and has the potential for an even better season and career in the National Football League.
Position: Defensive end
Current year: 4th-year senior (entered 2023 NFL draft)
Weight: 278 pounds
Though Mike Morris’ dominance waned late in the season (due primarily to injury), he was without a doubt Michigan football’s top marginal threat for the 2022-23 season and someone that other college programs had to schedule a game for when whoever it was on the field.
There are many positive sides to Mike Morris and his skills.
The first thing you’ll notice about Mike Morris is his great height. He’s a giant in the finishing position at 6’6. At 278 pounds, it’s also got the weight needed to charge off the edge, but still big enough to stop the run.
Mike Morris distributes his height and weight well, with his power and pop in his hands. I’d say his speed is underestimated for someone of his stature, and can occasionally catch opponents’ tackles off guard if he’s tackled one-on-one.
One thing you’ll notice about Mike Morris is that he’s very physical at the point of attack, constantly using his hands to put pressure on his opponent. He sets a hard edge with his upper body strength.
Mike Morris hates being blocked and chipped by opposing tight ends and will do anything to dodge them or get past them as quickly as possible, which is a positive since a block or chip can hurt a pass rusher’s momentum.
Mike Morris is really good at attacking his opponents’ zone rushing plans. He does a good job during zone runs, squeezing himself, getting right to the point of attack at back (especially when unblocked), and dropping the opposing running back at the scrimmage line for minimal gain or behind the line for a loss of stride .
Mike Morris is like Aidan Hutchinson in the sense that he’s very good at anticipating snaps and using that to his advantage. He combines anticipation with good angles to the QB on passing downs and quite often comes through with slower opponent tackles.
Mike Morris’ leg drive is good when bullrushing opposing QBs to collapse the pocket. Mike Morris does a good job of consolidating his advantage and restoring it when needed to gain better leverage against opposing tackles.
Mike Morris has some good counter moves (that can be built on more at the NFL level) with the Cross Chop, Club Over, and the Rip Move.
Finally, Mike Morris converts his speed into power faster than average, which helps him turn corners and deal with opposing tackles.
Unfortunately, while Mike Morris shows a lot with Michigan football, he does have some weaknesses that could really be exploited at the NFL level.
Mike Morris isn’t a fast-twitch athlete, which is what Aidan Hutchinson did so well with Michigan Football. Mike Morris just doesn’t have the innate athletic ability that an elite pass rusher does.
Combined with this lack of fast twitches is a subpar dismount from the line of scrimmage. This needs to be corrected, as much of Mike Morris’ success comes from timing his snaps perfectly and being surprised by opponent’s tackles.
If Mike Morris doesn’t time his snaps perfectly, he will most likely be ineffective at rushing the passer and face stone walls during the hand fight.
What made Aidan Hutchinson so good was his engine. He never stopped attacking, even when he (rarely) lost a rep. Mike Morris had a habit of stopping his feet when touching the opponent’s tackle, causing him to lose leverage and leg drive on the opponent’s tackle, making it much easier for the tackle to move him around.
Also, Mike Morris has a habit of standing up more on pass rushes than a typical DE should for the type of pass rush he’s doing.
It’s one thing to be used in a two-point stance as a WIDE 9 edge, but when not, the goal of the edge is always to stay low to the ground and never stand upright to gain leverage to to get around the edge as fast as possible. This needs to be fixed for Mike to be successful at the NFL level.
Mike Morris is too effectively swept away by dual teams as he almost never resists them, which also needs to be addressed. It’s obviously really hard to get past a doubles team, but when there’s basically no resistance, that’s a problem.
On more perimeter-based runs by the opposing team, Mike Morris has trouble spotting and overcoming guards and tackles, and can be flushed out of the game if caught by surprise (which happens more often than you’d like with these types of plays). .
Finally, Mike Morris has almost no bend. Once he loses his leverage against an opposing tackle, the replay is essentially over. Mike Morris doesn’t have the flex to go around an opponent’s tackle yet.
Mike Morris definitely needs to work on his NFL-level bend if he’s still going to make it home despite an initial lever fight loss.
Overall, Mike Morris is nowhere near a nifty product, but NFL teams should already be quite fond of its positive attributes. It’s the negatives that need ironing out, but no view is ever perfect, so everyone has things to work on.
Mike Morris has possibly the best upper body strength of any defensive edge in the class and has really good power as a bull rusher (which is by far his best pass rush type).
The biggest concern for Mike is whether he can really improve his bending and twitching off the edge. Just waiting for the snap to win at the NFL level is unlikely to work.
Combine that with Mike Morris being a bit of a tweener advantage (as he needs to show more athleticism to be an advantage on an odd or even front and isn’t quite big enough to be a 3 technique) , and this could ultimately affect its stock.
Mike Morris really needs to have a good combine to prove to teams he has the athletic ability and flex to consistently win reps at the NFL level. He also needs to add 2-3 more pass rush moves to his arsenal to counter opposing tackles.
Ultimately, Mike Morris should be deployed between Day 2 (midway through the second round) and Day 3 (and mid to late through the fourth round).
With a great combine, a bowl game (if applicable) and a pro tag (if applicable), Mike Morris has the edge early in round two. He’ll make his money by being drafted into a team with an even front that needs a power rusher.