Browns draft prospect: Michigan linebacker Junior Colson

The 6-foot-3 linebacker from Michigan could be a great fit for the Cleveland Browns in the 2024 Draft.

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Up next in our Cleveland Browns draft series is Junior Colson, a 6’3, 247-pound linebacker who helped lead the Michigan Wolverines to a National Championship title in 2024. Colson was a four-star recruit out of Brentwood, Tennessee, the third-ranked prospect in Tennessee and 13th-overall linebacker in the Nation. According to 247Sports, and committed to Michigan in 2020. 

Once at Michigan, Colson appeared in all 14 games, totaling 61 tackles, 0.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, two passes defended, and a fumble recovery. The Wolverines finished the 2021 season 12-1 after defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 42-3 in the Big Ten Championship game, where Colsom totaled three tackles, one quarterback hit, and a pass breakup.

The Wolverines were selected for their first College Football Playoff appearance in program history and were set to face the Georgia Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl. Colson racked up five total tackles in the Wolverines' 34-11 loss to the Bulldogs. Colson was named freshman All-American by Maxwell Football Club and Michigan’s Co-Defensive Rookie of the Year for his performance throughout the season. 

In 2022, Colson played in all 14 games, recording 101 total tackles, two sacks, and a quarterback hit. The Wolverines finished the season 13-0 following a 43-22 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten Championship game, where Colson totaled 15 tackles.

The Wolverines were selected to a second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance and were set to face the TCU Horned Frogs in the Fiesta Bowl. Colson totaled six tackles and a pass breakup in Michigan’s 51-45 loss to the Horned Frogs. Colson was named second-team (Coaches) and third-team All-Big Ten (Media) and was awarded Michigan’s Roger Zatkoff Award for his efforts on the field.

Colson played in all 15 games for the Wolverines in 2023, totaling 95 tackles, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and two pass breakups. The Wolverines finished the 2023 regular season 13-0 after defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 26-0 in the Big Ten Championship game, where Colson recorded eight total tackles and two pass breakups.

The Wolverines were selected to their third-straight College Football Playoff appearance and were set to face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Rose Bowl. Colson recorded ten total tackles in the Wolverines’ 27-20 victory over the Crimson Tide to advance them to the National Championship game. Colson totaled six tackles to help lead Michigan to a 34-13 National Championship victory over the Washington Huskies.

He was named second-team (Coaches) and third-team (Media) All-Big Ten for a second year in a row. Shortly after winning the National Championship, Colson took to social media to announce he would be foregoing his senior season and declare for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Colson’s noted strengths according to Bleacher Report: 

  • Good movement skills overall, which helps him in coverage, as he's able to stay in-phase against running backs and tight ends.
  • Has the speed to carry vertical routes or be effective in Tampa 2.
  • Quick to read play action and can get to his depth/landmark by either backpedaling or ROBOTing.
  • Impressive instincts and ability to read the quarterback's eyes to help tighten throwing windows when playing zone coverage.
  • When coming downhill against the run, has the speed and pop to create stalemates in the hole against iso blocks from fullbacks.
  • Sure tackler who wraps up and uses his body weight well to bring offensive skill players down.

Colson’s noted weaknesses: 

  • Shaky instincts versus zone runs. Hesitant and is often late to his gap or fits to the wrong gap.
  • Inconsistent with using his hands against the run. Gets caught with his hands and ends up getting stuck on blocks.
  • Often takes on blocks from offensive linemen square instead of getting on an edge or taking on half the man, but he doesn't have the strength to do so and get extension.
  • Angles against outside runs are a little shallow and will get beat to the corner by faster running backs.

Junior Colson compared to other 2024 prospects: 

Junior Colson - Michigan Wolverines - 6’3 - 247 lbs

  • 42 Games
  • 245 Total Tackles (109 Solo - 136 Assisted - 8 For Loss)
  • 2 Sacks
  • 5 Passes Defended
  • 1 Fumble Recoveries 

Jeremiah Trotter Jr - Clemson Tigers - 6’0 - 230 lbs

  • 39 Games 
  • 192 Total Tackles (113 Solo - 79 Assisted - 29.5 For Loss) 
  • 13 Sacks 
  • 14 Passes Defended 
  • 4 Interceptions 
  • 2 Defensive Touchdowns
  • 3 Forced Fumbles 

Tommy Eichenberg - Ohio State Buckeyes - 6’2 - 239 lbs 

  • 37 Games 
  • 258 Total Tackles (145 Solo - 113 Assisted - 20.5 For Loss)
  • 3 Sacks
  • 6 Passes Defended
  • 2 Interceptions 
  • 1 Forced Fumble 
  • 1 Fumble Recovery 

Edgerrin Cooper - Texas A&M Aggies - 6’3 - 230 lbs

  • 45 Games 
  • 204 Total Tackles (111 Solo - 93 Assisted - 30.5 For Loss)
  • 8.5 Sacks 
  • 10 Passes Defended
  • 2 Interceptions 
  • 3 Forced Fumbles 
  • 2 Fumble Recoveries 

Payton Wilson - NC State Wolfpack - 6’4 - 238 lbs

  • 46 Games 
  • 402 Total Tackles (202 Solo - 200 Assisted - 48 For Loss)
  • 15 Sacks 
  • 20 Passes Defended
  • 7 Interceptions 
  • 1 Defensive Touchdowns 
  • 1 Forced Fumble
  • 2 Fumble Recoveries 

While Colson struggles against zone runs and is inconsistent against certain blocks, his strength, ability to read plays, drop into coverage, and tackling style make him a perfect fit for the Cleveland Browns defense.  

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