For much of the year, I wasn't nearly as high on Warren as many around the Michigan blogosphere were. He was a good corner and undeniably our best player in the secondary, but he was never able to truly shut receivers down. Teams threw at Warren less than at other corners, but I think that's as much a function of Michigan's other corners being terribly inept as opposed to brilliance on Warren's behalf. So while Warren's departure--if he decides to go--will have an impact on the defense, I don't think it'll be nearly as catastrophic as some might feel.
But without Warren, Michigan is tossed back into the Horrifying Depth Chart-ness that they inhabited this past year. You can probably expect the corner depth chart to look something like this:
|Left Cornerback||Right Cornerback|
|1st string||Justin Turner||Troy Woolfolk|
|2nd string||Cullen Christian||J.T. Floyd|
|3rd string||Teric Jones||Courtney Avery|
|4th string||Terrence Talbot||James Rogers|
So the depth there doesn't look completely hopeless, but how many of those players would you actually want to see on the field? Three? Pray there are no injuries. Given Rodriguez's decision to redshirt Turner, it's my guess that, at least early in the season, Woolfolk stays at corner and they try to redshirt Cullen. This does however, mean a few other things for the secondary, namely, more Kovacs at safety (and not linebacker, his obvious position) and an unproven Vlad Emilien playing deep. Michigan has Marvin Robinson coming in the 2010 class, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Kovacs move to linebacker and Robinson take over sometime in the Big Ten schedule.
|Free Safety||Strong Safety|
|1st string||Vlad Emilien||Jordan Kovacs|
|2nd string||Mike Williams||Marvin Robinson|
|3rd string||Carvin Johnson (expect redshirt)||Jared Van Slyke|
We've seen worse looking depth charts than that, but it's still kind of OMG THEY'RE ALL FRESHMAN AND WALKONS involved.
The upshot is this: Warren is going to be a loss, but probably not a significant one. The secondary gets a little younger and a little less experienced than they otherwise would've been. That's about it. Warren wasn't an interception machine last year (he led the team with four for the entire season), and his production started to dwindle as the season went on. Woolfolk will likely take over as the most effective corner--he was nearing it toward the end of 2009--and Michigan will just have to roll the dice with the young'uns. It's going to be very touch and go early, but if some of these young, guru-approved recruits start to pan out early, the loss of Warren will be minimal.