Sony Michel – Running Back
Sony Michel NFL Draft Profile
The success of the Georgia Bulldogs in 2017 was a cumulative effort built on grit and determination. With a true freshman quarterback behind center, the need to establish a ground game became much more important. Enter Sony Michel, a 5’11” 220-pound running back who began his high school football career while still in the eighth grade.
Michel helped the Bulldogs win the 2017 Southeastern Conference championship over a stout Auburn team. As the focal point of the ninth-best rushing offense in the country, he helped beat the Oklahoma Sooners in one of the greatest Rose Bowl games of all time. Touching the ball just 15 times, Michel managed to compile 182 total yards and 4 touchdowns.
An unquestioned offensive commodity, Michel is a talented runner who has his best football in front of him. He will have an opportunity to play at the pro level, and though his role in the NFL is up for some debate, he will be an asset on Sundays for years to come.
The most valuable asset in all of competitive athletics, regardless of the sport, is the NFL quarterback. A franchise will only go as far as the arm of their signal caller will take them. This simple fact makes a running back who is well versed in pass protection and blitz pickup worth a roster spot—for obvious reasons.
During his senior year at Georgia, Michel was asked to protect a young, inexperienced quarterback, and help him navigate the choppy waters of the SEC. Film study shows that not only did Michel excel at blitz pickups, his actions lead to the steady progression of his quarterback throughout the season.
Pass protection is a skill that can be taught. However, the great ones have an uncanny ability to recognize pressure, pick it up and execute at the point of contact. Michel is one of these players.
Indecision is one of the worst traits an NFL prospect can have. It will turn an organization off almost instantly, and transform any hope of playing on Sundays to dust. Sony Michel doesn’t have that problem.
Michel is a decisive back who takes little risks when running the ball. Losing yards for the sake of trying to fix a broken play isn’t in his repertoire. Instead, every effort is spent trying to move the ball forward. Choosing a running lane, be it designed or developed, and sticking with his decision is part of what makes a back like Michel intriguing. In an era where highlight reels and amazing plays dominate social media feeds, the Georgia running back sticks to what works.
His running style shows both maturity and dedication to both his team and himself. When things break down—as they often do at the pro level—Michel has a running style to keep the ball moving in the right direction.
Breaking Free at the Line of Scrimmage
After highlighting Michel’s willingness to make a decision and stick with it, it would be irresponsible not to mention his issues at the line of scrimmage. Far too often he is bottled up at the line. And while his unwillingness to be a hero is admirable, he finds himself in these situations far more than he should.
Breaking down film of the 2017 season shows that when Michel can get to the second level he is dangerous. However, if there is contact at or behind the line of scrimmage, he shows nothing special in terms of finesse or tenacity.
The Bulldogs had one of the better offensive lines in college, yet all it took was the slightest amount of penetration to make Michel look like an average running back. This will make it difficult for him to stay on the field, despite his abilities in pass protection.
Lack of Wiggle
Seen as more of an angular runner, Michel has succeeded up to this point using his speed and power. This will only take the Georgia product so far on Sundays. He will need to add elusiveness to his bag of tricks if he is to be productive in the NFL.
Stiff hips and the lack of a discernible wiggle causes Michel to lower his shoulder instead of making defenders miss. Though he is light on his feet and avoids tackles, his prowess in this area leaves much to be desired.
More likely to take a defender head-on in the open field, Michel often misses cutback lanes and holes that develop through the course of a play. His lower body is strong enough to muscle through arm tackles, which gives the illusion that he is making people miss, but this is not the case.
A 220-pound frame is difficult to move, but it can be done. Michel will need to loosen up and learn to apply finesse when he needs to. This will make him a more attractive prospect and take away some of the unnecessary punishment he takes.
A powerful back who is faster than he is quick, Michel will be on plenty of draft board’s come April. His ability to pass protect combined with big-play potential will make him a welcomed addition to NFL backfields. His role as a three-down back is up for some debate, but his athletic ability is undeniable. With the right coaching and veteran mentoring, Sony Michel can be a productive back with plenty of room to grow.
Teams with Needs at Running Back
Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders
Round 2/ Pick 12: Washington Redskins