Sony Michel Is A Low-Risk High-Reward Gamble For The Rams

New Los Angeles Rams Running Back Sony Michel. Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels | Wikimedia Commons
New Los Angeles Rams Running Back Sony Michel. Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels | Wikimedia Commons

The day the Los Angeles Rams lost Cam Akers to a torn Achilles, the offensive ceiling of the team took a hit. Akers was supposed to take a major leap after having a breakout rookie season and Matthew Stafford would finally have a running back that could consistently run for over 100 yards and catch passes when he had to.

All eyes turned towards Darrell Henderson who was also a highly touted pick. Henderson was going to be the lead back on a unit that also possessed second-year Raymond Calais, second-year Xavier Jones, and rookie Jake Funk.

Well, after a preseason in which the running game struggled to gel, and Calais was also lost for the season due to injury, Les Snead once again rolled the dice sending 2022 5th and 6th round picks for former Patriot Sony Michel. This is a move that’s instantly proved polarizing as the Patriots declined his option and are ready to move on from their 2018 first-round pick. Sony is a risk but a risk that’s worth taking if the Rams are to stabilize their running back unit.

Sony Michel rushed for 2,292 yards and 14 touchdowns in New England. He never became the running back of the future. He never looked like an explosive back and quickly became the bread maker from “Old School” amongst the fantasy community. Having said that, he did score the game-sealing touchdown against the Rams in the Super Bowl. On its surface, the Rams trading for Michel is Les Snead desperately putting all his money in a blue-chip stock like TransAtlantic Zeppelin or Amalgamated Spats but in all honesty, it’s not that bad. The picks he gave up (the 5th and 6th rounders in 2022) come back to the Rams in exchange for the John Johnson 4th round comp pick. Sony is also only on the team for a year so either way, he won’t be back next year and will net the Rams a comp pick down the road.

Fans are probably annoyed that they moved picks for a first-round running back who can technically be labeled a bust especially in light of the fact that New England could’ve had Nick Chubb with that pick (Seattle made the same blunder with Rashaad Penny) because they’d rather the Rams pick up a center.

Michel also weirdly fits the Todd Gurley mold of being a former Georgia running back with a history of knee issues so that’s something to monitor. That’s all fair and this trade can negatively impact Darrell Henderson if the Rams aren’t careful. Losing a fourth next year isn’t ideal either because the Rams have managed to hit pay dirt every year on day three of the draft but assuming their day three selections hit this year it won’t be that big of a deal. The Rams also are savvy about finding day three picks anyway as Les Snead can trade with the best of them.

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Still, there’s a lot to like about Sony Michel. He still has solid bursts, he can run downhill and the team wanted him in part because he can thrive in the same blocking scheme the Rams built around Akers. He was extremely efficient last year as he averaged 5.7 yards per carry. He’s going to function as a much quicker Malcolm Brown and can catch the ball if need be. He’s not going to be the lead back despite what reports state. This will definitely be a running back by committee and given the thumb scare, Henderson experienced a day ago the team can’t afford any more injuries to their running backs.

It is also worth noting that the Rams current Running Backs coach (and future NFL Head Coach), Thomas Brown, was the running backs coach at Georgia in 2015 when Sony Michel had one of his best statistical seasons. So the familiarity is there, something that is a trend with this team and coaching staff.

Jake Funk isn’t ready for primetime and Xavier Jones isn’t big enough to function the way Sony is. It is risky bringing him in this late in the season and his impact won’t be truly felt for a few weeks while he gets up to speed but if the gamble pays off then all the agita being felt this morning will be for nothing.

The Rams have invested a lot of picks and cap space (they’re still paying $8.4 in dead money to Gurley btw) in their running back room and they’ve had to do it again out of necessity. The search for a center fans can agree upon still looms but Sony Michel, believe it or not, might actually be the piece that can hold the running back room together with duct tape while Cam Akers recovers. He and Henderson can be a solid one-two punch and maybe Sony Michel can score a touchdown in the Super Bowl FOR the Rams for a change. Only time will tell.

How do you feel about the trade Rams fans?

Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels | Wikimedia Commons