Texas A&M running back Christine Michael is an interesting prospect that some team is likely to steal in the April draft. Could the Pittsburgh Steelers wind up being the team that commits the theft?
Michael tore it up at the NFL combine last month, outside of his 4.54 40 time, as he posted a 43″ vertical, a 10\’05” broad jump, a 4.02 short shuttle time and 27 reps on the bench. With the good came the bad, however, as Michael overslept while in Indianapolis which caused him to miss some scheduled meetings with a few teams. Michael claimed that he was sick that week and that the reason he overslept was because he had taken some night-time cold sleep medicine.
It was reported last week that Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson was present at Michael\’s pro day and that he even directed him through the running back drills. This is not uncommon and it is no secret that the Steelers will be looking to add a running back in the draft.
Michael comes with a little baggage and he was most likely asked about it during the meetings with teams that he did make at the combine as well as during his talks with personnel at his pro day.
The 5 foot, 10 inch, 220 pound Michael, who missed time in 2010 and 2011 due to leg and knee injuries, butted heads with head coach Kevin Sumlin during his senior season. That head-butting resulted in him being suspended early in the season for a game for violating team rules. Michael has since admitted that he didn\’t handle the coaching change or the installation of the spread offense well last year.
“We had a whole new coaching staff, a whole new offense. It got shaky for me,” Michael said at the combine, via a report in the San Antonio Express-News. “I went into my own tunnel and got a little stubborn and was just in my own world. … It was just frustrating for me not to get as many carries and not to be that No. 1 guy in that offense.”
The draft hopeful went on to express what he learned from his drama filled senior season.
“Let a lot of things go,” Michael said. “Sit back, and let things happen, let (crap) happen.”
Despite all of that baggage, NFL.com draft analyst Gil Brandt thinks that Michael is a “rock star” and the only Southeast Texas running back in the last 30 years that he would put anywhere near the level of Jamaal Charles.
“If it were not for the problems in his background, he’d be the first or second back taken,” said Brandt. “Those problems, however, will cause him to drop. Some team has a chance to get a real bargain.”
As far as positives go, Michael played in both one and two back sets while in college and showed great vision running both between the tackles and the outside. He can run behind a man or zone blocking scheme and can get outside on stretch runs when asked to. He is a physical back that possesses above average balance and he doesn\’t waste any steps behind the line of scrimmage. He carries his pads well and usually gets positive yardage with the use of a strong lower body base.
As far as negatives go, outside of his injury history and immaturity, Michael is not an elite cutback runner that also lacks elite elusiveness. I would rate him average in both of those categories. He also appears to be extremely right handed and has put the ball on the ground a few times. As far as pass receiving and pass blocking goes, he needs polishing in both of those areas.
As far as stats go, Michael was productive when healthy. In the 40 games that he played in he netted 2,791 yards on 529 carries for a 5.28 yards per carry average with 34 rushing touchdowns. He chipped in 44 catches for another 232 yards and a touchdown.
Many scouts believe that Michael will not make it out of the third round, so if the Steelers intend on drafting him, that is more than likely where they will need to select him.
Below are some video of game cut-ups of Michael.