Brock Huard’s 2018 NFL Draft preview: Georgia RB Sony Michel
Each day, Brock Huard is profiling a different draft prospect that he considers an early-round possibility for the Seahawks. His draft previews continue with Georgia RB Sony Michel. The audio is embedded above.
• Position: RB
• Height/weight: 5-11, 220
• Class: Sr.
• Hometown: Plantation, FL
Scouting report: Michel is the same class as fellow Georgia running back Nick Chubb, and both running backs (they split reps from 2014-17) are projected to be late first- or early second-round picks.
Last year, Michel averaged 7.9 yards per attempt (156 carries for 1,227 yards) and had 16 touchdowns. He wrapped up his college career with 4,234 combined rushing/receiving yards for 39 touchdowns. Michel’s 27-yard touchdown run in double overtime won the 2018 Rose Bowl for the Bulldogs (and for it, he was named offensive MVP).
Brock’s take: “(Michel) exploded in 2017, averaging 7.9 yards per rush. That doubles what the Seahawks run game did a year ago per rush. Obviously it’s a very different level and a very different game, and Georgia’s good… but Sony Michel is the flash, man, he is lightning when it comes to that combination.
“Michel was 5’11, 211 at the combine, ran 4.54. A year ago, [Saints RB Alvin Kamara] at nearly the same size was equal there at 4.56. That doesn’t blow you away. That’s not lightning speed. But put on the tape and that is where that speed shows up. Michel is truly one of those players who, when the pads come on, plays faster. He breaks tackles, he pass protects, he does everything within the offense. He didn’t come out of a spread scheme where he knows one system and one system alone. He knows an NFL pro-style system. He knows what it takes to get the pads down and get the yards after contact. And more than anything else, he knows how to be violent. And when I think of what John Schneider and Pete Carroll have always coveted at that position, it’s a level of violence; to be a difference-maker. This guy’s got some fun to him. He has got some of that charisma.
“Here’s my concern: torn ACL in 2011 when he was in high school, left shoulder contusion in 2014, ankle injury in 2014, a broken left forearm in an ATV incident off the field in 2015, a re-aggravated right shoulder blade injury in 2015, a left knee injury in the SEC championship game that knocked him out and ultimately he came back from.
“I think this is one of those guys, more than anybody else in this draft, where those medical records are so critically important. John Schneider told us a couple years ago on the air that they do all of this work, they spend all of this time [researching] and then they bring in the medical people right about now, about 10 days before the draft, they come in the building and he says, ‘OK, what kind of investment am I looking at here?’
“You may get some bang for the buck [with Michel] but at No. 18, I don’t know if its sustainable for years and years to come. He had the benefit of splitting carries with Nick Chubb at Georgia. Can he have the benefit of doing so in the NFL with Chris Carson, with C.J. Prosise in this backfield? Yeah, more than likely. Is that worthy of the 18th pick? No. And that is why for the sixth, seventh-consecutive time at No. 18, I just have been unable to say ‘yes’ alone.”
How he’d fit: Outside of the defensive and offensive lines, running back remains one of Seattle’s biggest areas of concern. The team was impressed with then-rookie running back Chris Carson last year, but a high ankle sprain and fracture knocked him out of the season in Week 4. He’ll be competing for that starting spot in the rotation in training camp, but he’s not sealed anything yet. The Seahawks also have Mike Davis, J.D. McKissic, Tre Madden, and C.J. Prosise, but haven’t firmly established a year-after-year starter since Marshawn Lynch. And if Carroll wants to run his preferred style of football, they’ll need to find one.