Over the next few weeks, WolverineNation will look at every position on the Michigan roster and give a depth chart analysis of each position on the roster heading into the offseason.
One of the bigger issues Michigan had defensively this season was pressure from its front four, which is a major tenet to any good defense run by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. And while the Wolverines return a lot of their options at rush end from last season, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
All three of their returning players, plus an incoming freshman, have major potential to improve and the competition among the four might be the most intense of the spring and preseason.
The starter: Junior Brennen Beyer. This is a toss-up call here mostly because of how Michigan has used its rush end position since this coaching staff got here. Even when Craig Roh was there in 2011, the Wolverines rotated it. Last season, it was a three-man group with now-sophomore Mario Ojemudia and now-junior Frank Clark. Those three will likely compete again, but as of now Beyer holds the spot -- barely.
The depth: Clark, Ojemudia, freshman Taco Charlton. This might actually be the deepest spot on the entire Michigan roster. Beyer, Clark and Ojemudia all have playing experience and all bring something different to the position -- Clark as a pass rusher, Beyer as more of a run stopper and Ojemudia as a speed guy. Charlton, though, has the chance to make a big impact since he is coming in early.
The question mark: Could Charlton pass them all? It is possible. He is a freshman with a lot of potential and while playing on the line isn’t the easiest spot for a freshman and he would have a lot of guys to jump, if he can show he is the most complete of the foursome, he could get the start. That he is going to be around for spring ball helps his chances there as well.
The bottom line: On a Michigan defensive line which once again will have some major questions, this is a position of little concern. Michigan will receive some production here, whether it is mainly from one player or more likely a combination of two, three or four Wolverines. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison likes to rotate his linemen anyway to keep them fresh so it might not matter as much who starts here as that there is more than one legitimate option.