Scouting Profile: Running Back Sony Michel
Sony Michel, Georgia
Weight: 214 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds
Broad Jump: N/A
If there’s one thing clear about how Georgia made it to the national championship against Alabama, it was on the backs of their running backs. Michel and Nick Chubb made an excellent duo in the backfield, but don’t walk into the NFL Draft thinking that Michel is just a timeshare back. He’s someone who can do it on all three downs and never has to come off the field if you don’t want him to, something that’s highly coveted in today’s game.
Michel is essentially the ideal build for a running back at 5-foot-11 and 214 pounds, and has somewhat limited tread on his tires because the timeshare he was in. What may be the most impressive thing he did was through the college playoffs against Oklahoma and Alabama where he totaled 320 total yards with four touchdowns in the two games, outplaying Chubb who finished with 174 total yards and two scores.
Vision/Patience: 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s some bright spots in Michel’s game-film when it comes to his vision, but there’s also some downside because he seems to lack a great deal of patience. This isn’t the worst thing, however, because you aren’t going to see Michel take a loss very often. This is something extremely rare for a running back who moves as well as he does laterally. Those type of backs often try to bounce runs outside because they have that ability, but it’s a give and take thing. Michel wants to get downhill in a hurry and then beat you in the open field. The only issue is that he’ll sometimes run into his lineman while they’re still trying to clear a lane. If he could display just a tad more patience, he’s going to be even better.
Elusiveness (twitch, juke, tackle breaking): 4.0 out of 5 stars
He’s one of the more shifty running backs in this draft class, which makes him extremely fun to watch. He moves very well laterally but can get downhill as well. He’s not a tackle-breaking machine, but he’s also not a marshmallow who’ll go down on first contact. There were moments in the national championship game where he made Alabama defenders look silly, which is something that’s extremely hard to do. If he develops more patience, it’ll allow his elusiveness to shine a bit more than it already does.
Speed: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Some may see this rating and point to his 4.53-second 40-yard dash time as a reason his rating should be lower, though this rating is based on game-speed. While watching Michel, you have no complaints about his game-speed right out of the hole. His acceleration is among the best in class, though his long-speed isn’t elite. He’s often able to make defenders miss in the open field, which is why you’ll see him break long runs, but he is someone you can catch from behind if you’re a fast defensive back. The 40-time could’ve been better, but I’m not too worried about it affecting his play on the field. I’ll take acceleration over long-speed all day.
Pass-catching/Pass-protection: 5.0 out of 5 stars
There is little left to desire with Michel in the passing game, as he’s displayed rock-solid hands, but more importantly, he is a phenomenal pass-blocker. This is going to allow him to get on the field right away in the NFL. There was a play in the national championship where he was asked to block defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, who is expected to be a top-20 pick in the NFL Draft, and Michel held his own, not allowing Payne through to his quarterback. The reason some are considering Saquon Barkley in the top-five picks is because he can contribute on all three downs. Michel may not have the elite athleticism Barkley does, but he can stay on the field for all three downs as well.
Balance: 4.5 out of 5 stars
At this point, you probably realize that Michel is a complete running back. Not only is balance important when he makes cuts, makes a change of direction, but it’s also very necessary to be a great blocker, knowing how to leverage his weight. You’ll see him tip-toe along the sidelines, side-step defenders, and turn his hips upfield on a dime. Then you’ll see him block a linebacker like he’s 260 pounds or something. Michel knows how to handle and when to use his weight.
Potential Landing Spot
There are plenty of teams who could use a running back like Michel, so it’s difficult to nail down one landing spot. One team who could wind up taking him in the second-round is the Buccaneers, who released Doug Martin this offseason and have Charles Sims leaving via free agency. The Jets could also take a long, hard look at him since they have two picks in the second-round. Previously, I had him going to the Titans to work with Derrick Henry, but that vacancy was filled by Dion Lewis in free agency. Wherever he lands, he’s likely to contribute immediately. You don’t take a running back in the top two rounds and not use him in a featured role.
You guys are going to love this one. Michel reminds me of one of the best fantasy running backs we’ve seen over the last 10 years – LeSean McCoy. While McCoy may be a bit more shifty, Michel is much less likely to lose yards on a carry, something we know McCoy has been prone to do throughout his career. Both are excellent receivers out of the backfield, too. While McCoy may have a tad softer hands, Michel is better in pass-protection. There’s some give and take between the two, but Michel could very well be a long-time fantasy producer.