Christine Michael

March 23rd, 2013 | Written by Kip Earlywine

Talk to the hand.

If there is a story to tell with the 2013 running back class, it’s the high risk / high reward running back.  Marcus Lattimore might be the next Willis McGahee, a terrific talent that had a once bright NFL future cast into uncertainty with an awful injury during his final season.  Knile Davis seemed like a budding megastar in 2010 but missed 2011 from injury and disappointed in 2012.  Christine (pronounced “Kristin”) Michael is a former 5-star recruit that battled injuries and coaches over the last 3 seasons.  While each have tantalizing upside, each could end up leaving the board in the middle rounds despite that.

While I would have personally preferred to draft a receiver instead of trading for Harvin and all the future cap space that went with it, I love the trade for all the extraneous benefits it provides.  It finally gives the team an “out” for Leon Washington.  If the Hall of Fame takes kick returners, Washington is in it, but I never really felt comfortable with the crunch Washington put on our roster by essentially committing one of our few running back spots on someone who was essentially just a special teams player.  Harvin made Washington expendable, and with it our team finally has a 3rd spot open for a real running back.

I suspect that “plan A” for this roster spot is a diverse and explosive talent like Denard Robinson.  I’ve always thought that Robinson would be an amazing situational running back on day one, with the upside of being a return man or receiver down the road.  Seattle has met with Robinson and he’s one of the few players I can guarantee our team covets.  If Robinson isn’t in the cards though, it wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle gave a long look at Christine Michael.

Last year I made the mistake of comparing Robert Turbin to Marshawn Lynch.  Both are big, fast, physical backs, but Turbin is more of a home run hitter than an evader.  The zig-zag agility and light feet that Marshawn Lynch runs with are extremely rare for any back, much less for one with his power and determination.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t compare Michael to Lynch either- although I do think his game compares very well to former Seahawk Ahman Greene.  Green was 6’0″, 220 pounds, and ran a ridiculous 40 time unofficially.  Michael is 5’10″, 220 pounds, and ran an official 4.54.  On tape though, he is explosive and has the field speed of a 4.4s type player.

There are plays in every compilation I watched where Michael “wows” with his acceleration through the hole.  This play against Mississippi State, for example (this video also included a Ryan Swope sighting).  Michael relies on that burst so that he can be more patient waiting for the hole to develop, knowing that he has the burst to react rather than being forced to anticipate.

How explosive is Michael?  Vertical jump is measured in part because it is often a strong indicator of short area burst.  At the combine Christine Michael posted a 43″ vertical.  That is not a typo.  He did that in a 220 pound body.  Unsurprisingly, his cone drill and 20 yard shuttle both ranked #1 among all running backs, despite posting an official forty time that was middle of the pack.

As you might expect, the speed, size, and power that Michael brings makes tackling him difficult, as if trying to catch a cannon ball.  Michael doesn’t have the lightest feet, but he has excellent balance similar to Golden Tate or Chris Polk.  That balance allows him to keep plays alive, sometimes for huge gains.  This combination of traits allows him to break tackles with his body and continue for yards after contact.  He has a lot of power and can push a freestanding pile similar to Marshawn Lynch.

Michael has a few minor flaws.  He doesn’t make the sharpest cuts and only really shines with his maneuverability at higher speeds in open spaces.  He’s not likely to be more than an average cutback runner.  He’s more of a north/south guy than a “moves” back.  Michael also has a problem with ball security (another reason for the Ahman Greene comparison).  I didn’t get to see much of him as a blocker, but as a receiver he didn’t seem at all instinctive.

Really, if we are talking about his tape- this guy should be a first or second round pick, without question.  The reason he won’t be is because of his reputation off the field.  He was in the coach’s doghouse at Texas A&M and he even missed two interviews at the combine because he overslept.  Seriously.  In fairness, snippets taken from his interviews show a maturing young man that learned from his mistakes and considers his former A&M coach a “real good friend.”

He also has some injuries in his past- not surprising given his extremely punishing style.  Those past injuries include a broken leg and an ACL.

These issues press a first round talent into the middle round range.  General managers tend to view draft picks as business decisions, and it’s very common to see outstanding talents fall disproportionately far because of high risk- especially if we’re talking character risk.

In a year that figures to have some very exciting options in the middle rounds at running back, Christine Michael is my favorite.  He may not be a complete back, yet, but he also possesses mega-star upside in Tom Cable’s power zone running game.  Seattle can afford the risk and I don’t sense Michael is a problem child too difficult for Carroll to manage.

48 Responses to “Christine Michael”

  1. The 2nd song in the highlight video was performed by Christine Michael, for those wondering.

  2. Michael says:

    Good call Kip. This guy caught my eye at the combine simply by lining up for his 40. If I was forced to draft one running back from this class based on how they look in their underwear it would be no contest.

    He certainly looks faster on tape than 4.54 and I would be thrilled if we got him in the middle rounds.

    I also share your excitement for the open roster spot at the position, and I remember thinking this time last year that Leon might be a cap casualty at that time. I enjoyed watching Leon run back kicks, but I’m glad that we no longer have to tie up that much money and a roster spot on a player that never really did anything for us on offense.

  3. AlaskaHawk says:

    He would be a first or second round pick if teams picked running backs in the first few rounds. Since every team wants a big linemen or speedy receiver / corner, he like most running backs will be lucky to get picked in mid rounds. It’s a tough business.

    • Very true. It’s amazing how the market for RBs and 4-3 LBs has really depreciated over the last few years, despite some amazing success stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if those positions make a comeback though as the league tries to copycat Pete’s run heavy philosophy and fast linebacker strategy.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        I’m pretty convinced that Marshawn Lynch is a unique talent in his ability to stay on his feet and move a pile. Kind of like Earl Campbell was. He makes our offensive line better.

  4. Another decent comparison for Christine Michael: Darren McFadden. McFadden is taller but has a similar north/south style and ran in the 4.3s at 218 pounds. Also had problems with injury.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9v-RmeOPTo

  5. Aussie Rich says:

    With the new crown of the helmet rules, I think taking the quickest back in the draft is a good move. At this point there is no way of knowing how often the crown of helmet will be called, even if they say that last year there would have only been 10 calls for this hit, because there is an instantaneous judgement made by officials. A move to the faster back covers an unknown.

  6. YDB says:

    Shoelace as Plan A…WOW! Considering the team’s very real needs on the defensive side of the ball, I am extremely interested as to what value a seeming luxury pick would garner.

    Not that I disagree with you at all Kip, but at what point in the draft do you feel that the ‘Hawks would pull the trigger on drafting Robinson? I would sure hope they shore up B3T and Will before they select a high risk homerun option.

    • I meant “plan A” at RB, not in round 2. That’s speculation on my part anyway. Confident speculation.

      • YDB says:

        Ya, I understand you meant as a RB. My question was rather, where in the draft would Seattle find it valuable to add Robinson considering the high risk/reward nature of such a pick for a moveable chess piece? I could definately get behind a pick like this, provided that the ‘Hawks address more immediate needs earlier in the draft.

        The 5th round seems like a place Seattle could select him after filling bigger holes in the roster. Then again I have no idea how high other teams are on him.

        Thoughts?

        • Jon says:

          I realy feel that WILL is not as much a need as some think. Hill was still the starter at the end of last season but the quality of play between him and Smith was very slim. also, it is quite clear that Avril will be moved into a linebacking position occasionaly at the very least.

          I think 3tech is our major need to be filled in the draft and I am fairly sure that position will be taken in round 2-4 (depending on where the value is actually available).

          The rest of our picks are going to be about chess pieces. This is why I see a swing T/G will be chosen in rounds 2-4 as well, the chess part of that move is taking the place of McQuistan this year as the all around lineman (he is our oldest lineman and we could save 3 m in cap by replacing him this year). Next we realy need to draft a Bigger WR or TE, as I simply cannot see Rice/Miller (at least one of them) on the books next year costing nearly 10 m (Rice) 7 m (Miller).

          Sure, 3 Tech and WILL seem very important now, but looking at the cost of resigning players in the future, we may need to plan on drafting the replacement this year instead of having to pay some of the non-elite talent on the team (Okung, Wilson, Thomas, Sherman) These guys are safe, beyond that I hope that we keep a few others such as Tate, and Wright, but they are certainly replaceable.

          We have to be out from under contracts it seems by 2014 (Rice (10 m), Miller (7m), Bryant (8.5 m), Clemons 9m) At least 2 or three of these Roster Spots must be filled through the 2013 and 2014 draft. Some of that must happen this year. There is no position that we must have at any point in this draft outside of the absolute need of a 3 tech somewhat early.

  7. Morgan says:

    Wasn’t he also a bit of a fumbler? That worries me almost more than the injuries. A also don’t think our FO will take a shine to his attitude. Sure we’ve had some reclamation projects but Carroll and Schneider want guys that love football and I wonder if Michael has the passion. He’s an amazing athlete and they will grade him very highly for that, but he seems sulky and lackadaisical if he isn’t featured.

    If you are looking for a Marshawn Lynchy-y back, check out Winona State’s Rayon Simmons. Doesn’t have the beast mode, but he has cloned they way Lynch keeps he feet under him to juke laterally. They guy has incredible vision and even though he only timed at 4.67 in the 40 he gets to where he’s going quickly because he wastes no movement. Come to think of it, his pro-day results are eerily similar to Arian Foster’s, way back when.

    • Morgan says:

      Back to Michael, though. Remember back in the day when Mike Shanahan was with Denver and he would always find 1000-yrd backs out of nowhere? He said he’d look for backs that ran low and ‘behind their pads.’ Michael is a perfect example of this.

      • Good point. Makes sense. It wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle had similar criteria. Shanahan had Alex Gibbs, so did we for a short time. Tom Cable is a protege of Alex Gibbs.

    • Yup, I mentioned ball security in the post.

      Not really looking for another Marshawn, looking for upside guys at RB with power. Seattle has always keyed on upside.

      • Miles says:

        Upside indeed. 43 inch vertical? Are you kidding?? He could be too good to pass up in the 3rd or 4th.

      • Morgan says:

        Holmgren ditched Ahman Green because of fumbleitis…do you think this is something he could grow out of, or is even the type of worker that would even try? Michael is intriguing because he’s probably the best overall athlete in the draft and we know how much this FO value that, but I wonder where the tipping point is.

  8. SES says:

    Couldn’t agree more on getting “out from under contracts it seems by 2014″. This is a part of the draft that a lot of GMs & coaches never seem to understand. To stay competitive teams need this type of forward-looking vision. Think of how the Steelers would loose a Pro Bowl player in FA and just plug in another young guy who later would end up in the PB. I have faith that P/J look out years in advance concerning the make-up of this team. The type of pconfidence I NEVER had w/ Ruskell.

    You could probably add Mebane & M Robinson to the list of those who may need to be replaced in the near future. (Btw, I especially LOVE the way M Rob plays the game and how valuable he is as a leader… that will be a tough loss when it comes!)

    • Agreed. I don’t think Robinson or Mebane need to be replaced immediately, but it’s good to be on the lookout as both are rare types of players. Mebane is 28 and still playing very well. He’s got 3 years left on his current deal.

  9. Hawksince77 says:

    Kip,

    Sweet. If this kid can keep his shit together, he could be a RB star in the NFL. As a pure RB (not considering pass-catching or blocking skills) he looks really good, and displays the kind of running skill and explosiveness that should translate well at the next level.

    Now about his character…who knows? It really depends on how PC/JS assess his willingness to work, to join and respect a program.

  10. chris says:

    Latavius Murray from UCF, could be a steal. 6’3″ and 220 pounds. Ran a 4.45 at he’s pro day. I’ve watched a ton of his games, he’s pretty good.

    • I’ll check that out.

    • Having watched him, he’s not a RB. He runs extremely upright and has no burst or vision. He pretty much has no running back skills whatsoever. It’s a little bit like watching Golden Tate line up at running back except Tate would be better.

      That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle gave him a look in UDFA to see if he could develop into a WR. Carroll LOVES receivers who either converted from RB or play like one. Given how undeveloped his is at RB, I don’t think you could do much worse trying him at WR.

  11. Kenny Sloth says:

    Seems like a great 3rd round pick. I love his ability to turn upfield and leave the defense behind. I don’t think thwere’s anyone with his burst in this draft..

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      Something that shouldn’t be understated is his power when running. He runs low and arm tackles don’t even phase him. I’m not sure about his vision, because the holes were wide open at A&M with thant nasty OL upfront. He really tears it up and is now my favorite RB in this draft, although I don’t necessarily agree with taking an RB so high. It really depends on who’s available. Rob, could we potentially see a third round this week? It kind of sucks only considering one player to Seattle a week…

  12. YDB says:

    So you don’t feel Will is a significant need because you feel Smith can maintain the sub par level of play that Hill displayed at the end of the year?

    This position is in need this year…not due to cap hits in years down the road. I understand the financial as well as injury related reasons behind drafting positions currently occupied by some of the strongest players on the team (Rice, Miller). However, Williams has already been brought on board as a high ceiling big receiver prospect to develop as they would a draft pick. Furthur, any TE drafted this year would likely wind up 3rd on the depth chart or in a best case scenario, as a backup to a stud who’s cap number goes down $4m next year. So, barring an absolute steal falling to us in the early rounds (2nd or 3rd) there seems to be little way picking a WR or TE to ride the pine would upgrade the team as much as improving the starter on the team’s weakest defensive position.

    And as for Avril playing LB…position he could play within this defensive scheme is Sam. And even that would come in very run heavy packages

    • YDB says:

      What the ?

      This was meant as a reply to Jon, but posted as a comment and deleted the end…

      Continued…

      Packages that feature Avril at Sam would pair him up with the likes of Vernon Davis and Jared Cook just within the division. His snaps at LB will likely be limited to exotic sub packages that could not be relied upon to supplement the need to upgrade a base package position.

      I do agree withe you that the situation on the OL needs to be addressed in regard to McQ and Giac. How Carpenter’s recovery Cable’s trust in Giac play out will determine how high this need rate.

      I know that Will is supposed to be the easiest position to upgrade in this scheme, but this staff is looking to add ve

      • YDB says:

        Ugh.

        Versitility within position groups. Currently Wagner and Wright are the only starting caliber LBs Seattle has. With addressing the Will, the team would simultainiously upgrade corps depth.

        • Jon says:

          Yes, I did not mean to suggest that PC/JS do not look for anything as for an upgrade to Smith. However, when Avril is used as a LB you are correct that it will be as the SAM. However, Wright will swing in that situation to the WILL.

          I just don’t see the WILL as much more presing of a need than (TE, Big WR, Swing G/T) as my argument above suggests that we will need starting caliber players at all of those positions possibly by next year.

          I think that the way the WILL is going to be utalized in this D it calls for 4-5 round picks unless a specific player falls.

          BPA is the best situation to be in when it comes to the draft, and for me outside of the 3 tech position this year, the Hawks should be absolutely drafting by BPA. They certainly should not be drafting a WILL just because it seems like some kind of need. If a WILL is BPA and BPA meets need then that is wonderful, but don’t take a 5th round WILL in the 3rd because it may be better than Smith. The Hawks likely are going to draft a WILL, just be prepared to be dissapointed on how early that is unless something special falls.

          • YDB says:

            I’m not suggesting that Seattle takes a Will just because it is a need. I am simply stating my opinion that it is a much more pressing concern than TE or WR.

            Miller is integral to this offense (~85% snap count) and his cap number drops by $4m next year. Barring a catastrophic injury, he is not going anywhere. Adding to that, the chemistry the he and Russ displayed down the stretch and especially in the playoffs, andcutting him for cap space would greatly weaken the team.

            In terms of Rice, Schneider has already addressed the position by bringing in Williams. This allows the FO to take the BPA approach should a high ranked player fall into their laps. What Rice does for this defense is undeniable, but he may indeed become cost prohibitive next season.

            The Will position has not been addressed at all. Now that is not to say I feel that one should be reached for just to attempt to upgrade. I like Brown in the 2nd or Gooden in the 3rd and see little else in this draft that fit the Seahawks mould. Again, I’m just saying it’s a bigger need at this point than TE or WR. Whether it can be improved upon through this draft remains to be seen.

            Now, in regard to fielding Avril at Sam and swinging Wright to Will, that sets this defense up for disastrous mismatches against our competition in the NFC. If SF or ATL break the huddle in 11 personnel, that matches KJ against Boldin or White and Avril covering Davis or Gonzales. Considering how terrible KJ looked in coverage, and the fact that Avril hasn’t been asked to drop back since college, those are gross mismatches at two points against the ‘Hawks. No bueno to say the least.

            I’m not disagreeing with you that BPA is a great position to be in–it absolutely is ideal. I justthink you may be underestimated the need to upgrade the Will and simultaneously improve depth for an already thin corps.

            • Jon says:

              one thing to mention is on the alignment of Avril and Wright. When the Nickle or Dime D is on the field, you do not have 3 LBs on the field. Avril would be a linemen in that situation. Wright would be covering a TE and a CB/S would hopefuly be used for a slot reciever.

              This is my argument about our linebackers. We already have 2 three down linebackers, and the goal in my mind for this team is to eliminate the need for a third three down backer. This is why I see the position possibly as less important (while still an important upgradable position) than you see it.

              For me, Brown in the second? yes, but it depends on the posibilities for the 3 tech as their might be some very good value at the 56 slot for 3 tech. I agree with you. However, with Gooden, I don’t see him to be of value in the 3rd round (though I may be wrong).

              Until they draft is past us I will continue to believe that 2 of our first 3 picks in the draft are likely to be on the offensive side of the ball. It would take me way to long to give well thought out reasons why I think this. Its more than finances, its more than future turnover, I just keep trying to convince myself otherwise, but keep coming back to the OL, TE2/Big WR, as very likely targets in rounds 2-4 (I dont. With 3 tech and WILL the only ‘need positions’ but do not see many possibilities for the WILL. This is what keeps bringing me back to the Offense.

              • YDB says:

                The reason I mentioned that alignment was that you stated that when “Avril is used as a LB you are correct that it will be as the SAM. However, Wright will swing in that situation to the WILL.”. Maybe I misread, but you seemed to be implying 43 personnel, not nickel or dime.

                As for Wright, I don’t see him as an ideal 3 down LB. Unless he makes a huge jump in coverage ability, he at best (in my opinion) below average in 3rd & mid to long situations. I think as the season progresses we will see Smith (or a draft pick) take snaps from him in some of those situations.

                I agree with your caveat on drafting Brown in the second. If say, Sylvester Williams is on the board, I think you have to select him above Brown. I could definately see a highly ranked OL being taken above him as well.

                • Jon says:

                  agree with this, and the last paragraph is why I just can’t find a WILL that ends up fitting BPA until later on.

    • I can’t answer for him, but my take is that Seattle is open to upgrading the WILL spot but only for the right player (must have a TON of speed) and they feel comfortable with the status quo of Smith/Morgan/Bradford. Since there are so few options that fit Seattle’s criteria, Seattle might avoid a big investment at LB until next year. Players like Zaviar Gooden and Jayson Demanche could draw mid to late round consideration though.

      • Jon says:

        This is the thought for me, especially on Gooden, but I see so much positional value for others that I would not want to draft him at least until the end of the 4rth, maybe even our second 5th round selection. He is fast, but I don’t see much else that is special about him.

      • YDB says:

        As I replied to Jon right above, I am definately not advocating reaching for a Will. Actually, I think we are in agreement as to how the position should be addressed.

        I think this thread may have strayed from what my original question was: At what point do you think Seattle would pull the trigger on Shoelace?

        My uninformed guess is somewhere in the 4th-5th round.

        • Jon says:

          I agree, with the 4th on Robinson as far as I’m concerned, sorry we somehow got into all that. Truth be told, this draft is so confusing because there are like 5-10 guys that I would seriously want that should still be on the board with our picks in rounds, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Such a deep class that our entire discussion may be void, and the Hawks may pick up a WILL, a TE/Big WR, G/T swing, as well as a 3tech in the 2nd and Denard Robinson somewhere along the line. It is so exciting that it is posible by my eye test that you could have up to 4 starters and Denard Robinson in this draft by the end of the 5th round. And this is without having a 1st round pick. AMAZING

        • I’d be fine with taking him in the 4th. Recent hype has him going in round two or three, but I think four to six is where he’ll end up.

  13. Leonard says:

    Michael is at the top of my list of system fit RB’s in the draft. I actually think RB is the deepest position this year. There are about 10 guys I really like. One guy that is not getting nearly enough attention is Dennis Johnson from Arkansas. He reminds me a little of a 5’7″ version of Lynch. Very good vision and explodes the holes with a wide base and feet always churning. I think he ran in the high 4.4′s with similarly good times in other drills. He looks pretty light on his feet and gets to full speed quickly but he can also run through arm tackles or just run your ass over if you come in too high. Another plus is he is a very good kick returner and supposedly is a Pete Carroll kind of guy in the locker room. He’d be a perfect complimentary back that could probably be had in the 6-7th round.

    • I almost included Knile Davis in Dennis Johnson in this writeup, but I wanted to keep it focused on Michael.

      Dennis Johnson has Justin Forsett type height and speed, but in a very bulky body that can handle the workload. I’d compare his game to a shorter, slightly slower Alfred Morris.

      Lynch and Turbin oozed speed in college, so I think speed is a big consideration for Pete at RB though. He also ditched Forsett who didn’t have speed. Dennis Johnson looks like a quality NFL starter, but the chances of him reaching Alfred Morris production strikes me as unlikely and I think Seattle wants more explosiveness and power from their running backs. They want backs that wear down defenses.

      • Leonard says:

        He might have some similarities to Forsett but he is a lot faster. He has legit sub 4.5 speed and he gets to his top speed quickly. While it might not be Turbin speed it is still pretty good. He does have two elite qualities though that are what remind me of Lynch. Balance and vision. He is very good at finding the hole and getting through it quickly, north and south, with one cut. Very good for zone blocking. His wide base and strong legs make him bounce off tackles like a pin ball. Dude runs with an attitude, watch the Mississippi State game from 2011. He just flattens Darius Slay who is a pretty good tackler. Add to that a leader in the locker room, very hard worker, good hands and route running, willing pass blocker and good kick returner.
        I’m not trying to oversell the guy since I think he is probably a value pick in the late rounds and a compliment to the guys we already have who are 20-25 carry a game types.

        • It’s interesting that Dennis Johnson wasn’t invited to the NFL combine. I know that unofficially he ran in the 4.4s and some rumors have him lower, but on tape he has Justin Forsett speed. I think 4.6 is his real field speed. He doesn’t have much burst either, at least Forsett had great burst. He’s more of a vision back than an athletic back.

  14. HardcoreHawk says:

    This guy ‘wowed’ me many times during the season, when I watched A&M games. And I really feel like that says a lot, when you are surrounded by the talent he was. I mean Johnny Football, Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews, Ryan Swope, etc. Yet he was often the players I came away most impressed by.

    I don’t worry about his off-field issues. He will get straightened out, once in Seattle. I have no doubt about that. Same with Harvin. We probably won’t ever see more of his primadonna-personality.

    Look at the touchdown at 3.14 in the highlight video. Amazing speed!

    • Honestly, I wouldn’t complain if Seattle took Michael in the 3rd round. I really doubt they would- but I’ll just say that from the 4th round on, Michael will be one of the players I’ll be hoping to get the most. High risk player, but man, he could be special if he clicks in Tom Cable’s scheme.

  15. Snoop Dogg says:

    I think that honestly, Marshawn (and Turbin) are so good that if a draft pick was to hope for some reps running the ball he would need to be one of the theextreme high upside, low valley RBs (Michael, Lattimore, and Davis. I just don’t see Andre Ellington or Giovanni Bernard beating out Robert Turbin for reps… Slower and smaller probably without the catching/blocking ability of the SeaHulk!