If teams were drafting on pure talent and athletic ability alone, Christine Michael would have been the first back off the board. Highly recruited out of high school, Michael burst onto the scene at Texas A&M as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year; after that, it was a slow but steady decline as he suffered two season-ending injuries (a broken tibia in 2010, a torn ACL in 2011) and worked his way into the coach’s doghouse and a part-time role as a senior.
But let’s talk about those athletic gifts. Michael is built like an NFL running back, 5-10 and a solid 220 pounds. He’s effective as an inside runner, with the vision to see a hole and the feet to quickly cut through it; he also doesn’t shy away from contact and consistently picks up yards after contact. Those talents were on display at the Shrine Game and again at the NFL Combine, where he rocked the 40, the vertical, the shuttle run and the three-cone drill.
Problem was, following that strong showing in Indy Michael overslept and missed his team interviews. And that speaks to one of the two biggest knocks against him, knocks that kept him out of the first round: attitude and durability. Some scouts questioned whether Michael looked all the way back from his ACL injury as a senior, and the fact that he was suspended for a game is evidence of the attitude issues.
The Seahawks have some experience with backs whose attitude have been questioned, and while there are still some lingering concerns with Marshawn Lynch he has more than lived up to his end of that trade. Michael would serve, at least initially, as a complement to the bruising Lynch and while he’s not particularly experienced as a receiver he has flashed the ability to be both a quality pass-catcher and competent pass protector when he wants to be. Scouting comparisons include Ahman Green and Ahmad Bradshaw; the Bradshaw similarities seem especially appropriate, given Michael’s durability concerns and the fact that like Bradshaw in New York he’ll begin as a junior member of a backfield committee. Perhaps that will provide time for him to mature; if that happens and he’s able to live up to his considerable talents, both the Seahawks and dynasty leaguers who take a shot at Michael will have themselves a real steal.