The 2018 NFL Draft is stuffed full of quality running backs – the group has a chance to be truly historic. At the top end, two names keep surfacing above the rest in Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice, but right behind those names, and inching closer weekly, is Georgia’s Sony Michel. Michel capitalized on a dominant senior season at Georgia where, on the biggest of stages in the Rose Bowl and National Championship, the 23-year-old star showed out. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
- 590 carries for 3,638 yards and 33 touchdowns, with 64 catches for 621 yards and six touchdowns over 37 games played for Georgia
- Two year captain, co-offensive MVP and winner of Charley Trippi Award as most versatile offensive player at team’s post-season awards
- Finished his career 3rd on UGA’s all-time rushing list with 3,638 yards, and also ranks 16th among all-time rushers in SEC history
- Named to the All-Bowl Team of both ESPN and Rivals.com. Rose Bowl Offensive MVP
Height: 5’10 5/8
Hand: 9 1/8
Arm: 31 2/8
Wingspan: 73 5/8
40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds
Bench press: 22 reps of 225 pounds
10 yard split: 1.56
20-yard shuttle: 4.21 seconds
- Torn ACL in high school (2011)
- Fractured forearm in July 2016 from ATV accident
- Fractured shoulder blade twice in 2014
- Florida (2017)
- Kentucky (2017)
- Auburn (2016)
- Oklahoma (2017)
- Alabama (2017)
- Good athlete overall with true football speed
- Great initial burst
- Balance as a runner is what separates him
- Excellent patience setting up blocks
- Excellent in blitz pickup
- Plus mental processing when evaluating defenses
- Long stride runner who deceives defenders taking angles
- Good at creating yards and finishing after small contact
- Underrated pass catcher with ability to separate with good feet in and out of routes
What stands out for Michel is his balance and body control when reaching top speed. His ability to stay in bounds here was nothing short of miraculous.
Michel is dynamic in the inside zone concept, as he is most comfortable in it. He is patient enough to set up second level defenders and manipulate them with one quick cut like we see here.
The thing about Michel’s speed is that it is deceptive. He often make angles disappear and defenders misjudge him.
Three defenders are bearing down on him down the field here, and he erases them all.
Pass catching I wouldn’t define as a strength, but he can handle the duty. Here he flips his hips at the top of the route to make the catch after play-action.
The vision as he allows his line to work level to level is what makes him so dangerous in the inside zone. Watch the subtle hip wiggle here.
This explosiveness will make for one tough back at the next level.
- Has to continue to work on ball security – was an issue in college early
- Lack of top end agility
- Has some issues with hands catching; he allows the ball to get to his body
- Can favor too much contact in the hole, opening his body to major hits
- Average to below stop and start
- Propensity to get tripped up inside the hole
Where Michel will catch his highest amount of flak and ridicule is his fumbling. He often exposes the ball to body contact from defenders too often, as we see here. He has improved on it throughout his college career, but he has to get better.
Michel and his family emigrated from Haiti early in his life. Michel attended American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida where, as a senior, he rushed for 1,833 yards and 24 touchdowns. Michel was a top-15 recruit nationally coming out of high school, and he was rated a five-star recruit by most recruiting services. He arrived at Georgia when the Bulldogs had known commodities in Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb dominating the backfield. His sophomore year he moved into a split role with Chubb and found the success the jump-started his career.
Michel will be best served as a combo back who can split carries with another back similar to what he did at Georgia, but I wouldn’t put it past him to have the ability to be a bell cow type of back, either. The only concern are the injuries and workload, but it would not surprise me to see a team draft him to earn the majority of its offensive snaps.
Sony Michel was one half of the toughest running back duo to tackle in 2017 pic.twitter.com/DBYVk6tYS7— PFF (@PFF) April 12, 2018
Michel brings the type of power/speed combo at running back that scouts and GMs love. He can put his head down and get tough first downs, but he also has the ability to make defenders miss and break the home run types, as well. An up and comer in the passing game, Michel forced 31 missed tackles on 63 career receptions and was second in the SEC in yards per route run, according to PFF (Pro Football Focus). I truly see him as a similar comp to Willis McGahee when McGahee came out of Miami. The styles mesh very well, and I think that is the type of ceiling Michel can reach. Overall, I gave Michel a 5.17 grade, which has him a round one player for the upcoming draft.