I heard a TV commentator compare Michael to Ahman Green and attribute that comparison to former A&M coach Mike Sherman. The comparison is dead-on.
Michael has a strong burst, good finishing strength, nice pad level, and quick feet to make sharp cuts. I think he flashes some skill at the cutback while still having the maturity to take what his blockers give him – even when the creases are small.
Note the pad level and strength on this run above. There are three different angles to view it (ends at 0:46). I love how hard he hits the crease and this combination of speed and pad level makes him scary to bring down at the second level, because he’ll bounce off hits or use his array of moves in combination to turn a 10-yard gain into a 50-yard jaunt.
The lateral cut Michael executes at the left hash after telling the linebacker a bedtime story that featured his stiff arm four yards earlier is a thing of beauty. Moreover, the speed to cross the opposite hash and outrun a fine angle by the defender back to score on this play is a great display of speed and stamina to turn on the afterburners. He did a fair bit of work early in the play and still had the gas to cross the field and outrun two angles for a long score. Impressive stuff.
I have no doubt that Michael has the physical skills to be a lead back in a pro offense and a terrific one at that.
Like Green, Michael generally carries the ball under the same arm on running plays regardless of his position on the field – his right. He sometimes tries too hard in the open field to make that extra cut or move to avoid down-field defenders rather than maintain a straight path and finish strong. He loses more yards with some of these decisions than he would if he forced the defender to bring him down while he was at full speed.
At the same time, I have seen Michael look great in the open field against Arkansas, Mississippi, and Auburn. he doesn’t always run with his eyes as much as he should and this reduces his effectiveness because he’s not setting up moves as much as he’s focusing on one move at a time.
A real positive about Michael’s game is his pass protection. He keeps his head up and uses his hands well enough to punch defenders. He gets good position before delivering blocks and he flashed good skill both in stand up and cut blocking. He’s also a reliable receiver on short routes, catching the ball with his hands, and he can catch targets with his back to the quarterback. He’ll have the occasional lapse of patience where he has to be more cognizant of looking the ball into his body.
Injuries have been an issue. Michael has broken a leg and torn an ACL in consecutive years. He was had lapses of discipline as a teammate.
The maturity issue was considered Micheal’s greatest stumbling block before the draft. The A&M runner put on a show at the combine with a 4.54, 40-yard dash; an incredible 4.02, 20-yard shuttle; and a somewhat mind-blowing 6.69-second, three-cone drill. All he had to do after this display was to show up to the team interviews and say that his past mistakes were nothing but youthful immaturity.
He could throw in that he’s learning how to become a better teammate and reliable adult and that he understands the NFL is an opportunity of a lifetime and he’d be a lock for the third round. Instead, Michael overslept and missed his interviews.
However, post-draft interviews with Michael depict a young man who displays far more maturity and poise than how some in the media depicted him at college. Michael says he missed the interviews because he was ill during the combine and after working out the symptoms were bad enough that he was wiped out that night and next morning.
Based on my limited information about Michael’s behavior I characterized him as a player who can run over, around, or away from just about anyone on a football field, but was having a lot of trouble winning the internal battle. I’m not so sure the losers in this evaluation of Michael’s character weren’t those of us who didn’t know anything more than what the media reported. At the same time, I’m not completely convinced his past behavior was all something the media blew out of proportion. If he can regain his pre-injury form and continue to show evidence of mature (enough) behavior he can be the best back in this class.
My sample play-by-play reports on Christine Michael.
Fantasy draft coming up? Download the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio available now. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the 56-page Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2013 RSP at no additional charge and available for download within a week after the NFL Draft. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.