UM coach Al Golden said McGee improved tremendously in 2012.
An excellent pro
Hes going to be an excellent pro, Golden said. If you look at his body of work, everything is trending so positively. His size, his strength, hes always had length and long speed and now hes married that with a tool box.
He showed the ability to tackle and be physical on the edge. I see his peak coming as he enters the draft.
James, whose career was held back by having former star Lamar Miller ahead of him, and then, this past season, sharing reps with Duke Johnson, more than doubled his output in 2012 from the previous season.
He rushed for a career-best 621 yards and six touchdowns on 147 carries for a 4.2-yard-per-carry average, and was UMs third-leading receiver with 30 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
Though some projections have McGee going sooner than the 5-11, 222-pound James, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes James is the better value as a Day 3 pick.
I like Mike James, Kiper said. He was one of the guys you can get probably a little later in the draft. Its a kid over 220 pounds [who] has better quickness than he does 40 time. He runs inside very effectively but can bounce it to the perimeter. Hes got some skills.
You saw what Alfred Morris [of FAU] did last year as a sixth-round pick.
James played fullback as a freshman and is regarded as the ultimate team player who is smart, loyal, has great hands and wears defenses down with considerable strength.
Everybody wants 30 carries a game, said James, who was timed at 4.53 in the 40 and did 28 reps in the 225-pound bench press. But I trusted the judgment of my coaches. We did the best we could to try to make the team go as a team, not just to make Mike James go as an individual.
Im at peace.
Golden said hes confident James will flourish.
Wherever you put him on your board, thats what hes worth, Golden said. Theres not much you dont know about Mike James. Hes as pure as any draft pick youll ever get. I think hes a mid-round player, and hell make somebodys team and have a great career.