I think Donovan Warren is smart to explore his NFL options at the end of the regular season. He's been an NFL talent in waiting since his freshman All-American year.
While injuries hampered his ability last year, Warren has been a bright spot on a poor Division I defense this season.
Of course, he has committed his share of missed tackles and poor angles, but overall, he is in the right place at the right time 9.5 out of 10 times. Even when he is out of place, he rarely gives up the big play.
He has fluid hips, a quick burst, above average cover skills, above average tackling ability, and above average height for the position. Add a tough demeanor with a positive, aggressive attitude, and you can see why he'll be playing on Sundays.
But the question remains: Is this the time to go? The so-called experts are all over the place on his projected draft positions. You'll see everything from second to fifth round.
Part of the reason Warren hasn't been able to dominate at the corner position this season (although he's tied for second in the Big Ten with four interceptions) is because he's been asked to participate in a new scheme that puts him in a sort of hybrid safety/corner position due to Michigan's weakness at safety.
Yet he's been all over the field. During the Wisconsin game, I couldn't help but notice him making several tackles of Bucky's tight ends that should have been made by others.
Even though Warren is performing at the position, the spot duty has limited his evaluation and precluded him from solidifying himself as a lockdown corner.
Michigan's defense is young and bad but will progress from this year to the next. That development should allow Warren to stay at corner and improve his stock. Should Warren have a breakout game against OSU this year, his projected stock could rise even further.
That being said, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly the areas that Warren needs to improve upon. If he truly believes that he's playing at his best, he should go, even if that means sacrificing a round in the draft (absent the first round, of course). NFL scouts would have a full display of his skills from which to evaluate him.
Of course, there's always room for improvement, but if he doesn't think he can get much better in the next year, it may make sense to go to avoid risking injury. He knows all too well the limitations caused by injury and may not feel the same sense of invincibility that other players who return for their senior years may feel.
All this leads me to the final point: There's nothing wrong with exploring your options. He ultimately will make the decision that is best for him and his family. I am of the opinion that Warren will be in a Wolverine uniform next year. But you can't and shouldn't knock the kid for seeing what's out there.