Offensive Tackle - #51
Rockford High School (Rockford, MI)
Where We've Seen Him: Michigan Summer Camp 2010, vs Holt, vs Traverse City West, vs Plymouth
On the Hoof: He's listed on the roster at 6'6, 280. Having seen him in person, I'd say he's definitely 6'5 at least. He's filled out a lot since I first saw him as a sophomore, where he was listed at 250. He's a naturally big bodied, thicker kid.
Analysis: When we saw him at summer camp, he admittedly hadn't played much tackle yet. He picked it up pretty fast, as he did very well in 1-1s, with his natural strength and punch helping win the majority of his battles. He eventually got matched up against the best defensive end there that day, Muskegon's Damon Knox, and had good battles with him. At that point, we knew he was a prospect to monitor.
When I saw him against Holt and TC West during the year, I liked what I saw. He's a people mover. He's very strong and he finishes his blocks. Technically, he'll have some work, but what high school player doesn't? He shoves and throws defenders around, but doesn't always lock and drive. That's something he'll do more of when he's facing bigger, stronger defenders. The Rams did throw the ball last year. They aren't just a power team, so Braden has experience as a pass blocker. He did face Plymouth and Brennen Beyer in the playoffs, but Beyer saw more of Parker Ehinger, the Cincinnati commit. What I did like about Braden was he played hard and finished his blocks. He's a very nice kid off the field, but he plays with intensity and ruggedness.
I think he's a right tackle, but I could also see guard. He definitely fits the new Michigan style of offense very well, although the old staff liked him a lot too. We'll have to see him as a senior to see further development, but he was moving along very quickly for a kid who was just picking up the position. He is very well coached at Rockford, which certainly contributed to that.
Ranking: Right now, he stands at 11th in the state of Michigan, and that's where he'll be when the rankings debut next week. That puts him likely as a high three-star off the bat. He has the potential to move up, as his size and strength are high end. Continued improvement in space and with agility are important for him, but he is a very good prospect who likely would have gotten even more offers as we moved forward.
Bottom Line: This first commit fits new Michigan's M.O. A big, strong, power type lineman and an in-state kid. Braden wasn't just taken because he's within state borders though, he's a big ball of clay who improved every time we saw him, and should continue to do so.
#51 Ben Braden | OT | Rockford (Mich.) H.S.