Summary: Michigan has big group of prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft and in speaking with NFL sources, Charlton is the heavy favorite to be the first Wolverine drafted. The media hype would suggest Jabrill Peppers, but NFL teams are a lot more excited about Charlton. A 6-foot-6, 277-pounder with speed and athleticism is a tough commodity to find, so Charlton will have plenty of teams interested in drafting him in the first round.
Entering his senior year, Charlton rotated into the game but wasn't an every-down player. As a sophomore, he had 19 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His junior year saw him total 30 tackles with 5.5 sacks. Charlton broke out in 2016 with 9.5 sacks, 43 tackles and 13 tackles for a loss. He was excellent late in the year, including a dominant game against Ohio State to finish the regular season before eating up Florida State in his bowl game.
In the ground game, Charlton is impressive. Sources have said they were impressed with his ability to hold his gap, fight off blocks, and make tackles at the point of attack. He is strong to get free of offensive line with the speed to make tackles outside of his gap. Charlton is a quality run defender entering the NFL.
For the NFL, there is a lot to like about Charlton as he looks like he could be a double-digit sacker who puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Charlton is fast off the line with a good get-off and speed that catches offensive linemen by surprise. He is fast to turn the corner and can use his hands at the same time as his feet. Despite a lack of experience, Charlton shows some variety in moves, including an outside rip move and a spin back to the inside. When Charlton gets to the quarterback, he puts him down hard with some rattling hits on quarterbacks. Charlton is fast in pursuit and closes in a hurry. He is a great athlete with a ton of upside for the NFL.
Given how talented and physically gifted Charlton is, one wonders why it took him so long to become an every-down player. Sources said that the staff at Michigan had questions about Charlton's toughness and ability to go the distance. Hence, he was used more rotationally as a sophomore and junior. Charlton is going to need good NFL coaching to help keep him engaged and grinding during tough stretches.
For the NFL, Charlton's best fit would come as a base end in a 4-3 defense. He does have the length and athletic ability to standup as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He also could move down and play some 3-4 defensive end in some situations. Charlton is versatile with scheme flexibility. It wouldn't be surprising if he becomes a Pro Bowl defensive end during his rookie contract.
Player Comparison: Carlos Dunlap. Sources have compared Charlton to Dunlap. Both are big, stout base ends who have the speed to turn the corner and rush the quarterback. Dunlap fell to the second round of his draft class because of some off-the-field concerns, but he was widely regarded as a first-round talent. Dunlap has turned into an excellent pro defender, and Charlton could be the same quality of player.
NFL Matches: New York Jets, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Washington, Detroit, Miami
There are a lot of potential fits for Charlton in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In the top 10, there are two possible landing spots for Charlton with the Jets being the first at No. 6 overall. The Jets could use an edge rusher, but No. 4 seems a little too high. At No. 9, Cincinnati might be a fit. The Bengals have Margus Hunt in free agency, while Michael Johnson is a limited player. Charlton could be the pass-rushing end to go on the other side of Carlos Dunlap with Geno Atkins disrupting from the inside.
The Saints have to upgrade their defense and improve their pass defense. They need an edge rusher across from Cam Jordan, and it sounds like the team's preference is adding a pass-rusher first with secondary help to follow. Charlton could be in play for New Orleans with the 11th-overall pick.
Indianapolis needs help all over its defense, and Charlton would instantly upgrade it. John Simon and Jabaal Sheard are more complementary pass-rushers, while Charlton would give the Colts a lead dog.
The Ravens need more pass rush after cutting Elvis Dumervil. Charlton would make sense for Baltimore.
The Redskins want to get younger and more athletic up front. Charlton would be able to play five-technique defensive end in a 3-4, or 4-3 end or tackle for Washington.
Among the playoff teams, Charlton shouldn't fall past two of the teams in the early 20s. The Lions could use defensive line help. Charlton could upgrade their edge rush across from Ziggy Ansah. Miami could use a young defensive end after cutting Mario Williams and given the age of Cameron Wake.