On Tuesday afternoon, just one week after the Big Ten announced the postponement of its football season to the spring, Jalen Mayfield declared for the NFL Draft.
The junior right tackle entrenched himself as a key part of Michigan’s dominant offensive line a year ago, as the only sophomore member of the starting group. In two years in Ann Arbor, Mayfield played in 16 games, starting all 13 in 2019, and was named as an All-Big Ten honorable mention.
“Michigan has always been home to me,” Mayfield wrote in a graphic posted to his Twitter account. “Ever since I could remember, Michigan football had a special place in my heart. The opportunity I had here at Michigan was truly a blessing. There is no better feeling than putting on that iconic helmet and running out of that tunnel every Saturday.
“To all my coaches, I’m extremely thankful for all the support and guidance you have given me over these past three years. (Offensive line coach Ed Warinner) and coach (Jim) Harbaugh, I can’t thank you enough for believing in me and taking a chance on an undersized kid out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am forever grateful for the opportunity you gave me. These last few weeks have been filled with stress and have put me in a place where I have a difficult decision to make. With that being said, I have decided to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. Forever Go Blue!”
After a dominant season in which he impressed against the likes Alabama and Ohio State — featuring Chase Young, the second overall pick in last year’s draft — Mayfield has been widely projected as a first- or second-round pick. He will all but certainly become the fifth member of Michigan’s 2019 offensive line to be drafted, and could join center Cesar Ruiz as the unit’s second first-round pick.
For the Wolverines, Mayfield will likely be replaced at right tackle by senior Andrew Stueber, if there is a season held in the spring. Still, Mayfield’s declaration brings uncertainty to a line that he was expected to anchor.