The Seahawks had other options and more pressing needs when it came time to make the 62nd selection in the NFL Draft. But running back Christine Michael was their obvious choice, for the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.
Why would a team that already has All-Pro Marshawn Lynch and selected complementary back Robert Turbin in the fourth round of last year’s NFL Draft make another running back its top draft choice this year?
General manager John Schneider supplied the bottom-line answer after the Seahawks did just that by taking Texas A&M’s Christine Michael in the second round last Friday: “He was the top-rated player on our board.”
But the broader explanation is that the more the Seahawks saw of the 221-pound Michael – whose first name is pronounced kristin – the more they liked him.
He posted the top marks among the running backs at the NFL Scouting Combine in the vertical leap (43 inches) and cone (6.69 seconds) and shuttle (4.02 seconds) drills. He was second in the broad jump (10 feet, 5 inches) and third in the bench press (27 reps with 225 pounds). His time of 4.43 second in the 40-yard dash ranked ninth, but only one of the eight faster backs weighed more than 210 pounds and his time was second-best among the backs the Seahawks would have considered with what ended up being the 62nd pick overall.
Cue the video of him at A&M and Michael displays the ability to not only run through defenders but away from them. During his pre-draft visit to Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Michael took a liking to the Seahawks, and vice versa.
“When we got to our spot and Michael was there, we were excited,” Sherman Smith said Wednesday. “There were other backs we liked, but some of them were gone and we also wanted a bigger guy.”
Smith, of course, is the Seahawks’ original running back – a quarterback at Miami of Ohio who was selected in the second round of the 1976 draft and given a baptismal by blowtorch as a running back at his first NFL training camp. Smith, who led the team in rushing from 1976-79 and again in 1982, now is in his fourth year of coaching the team’s running backs.
Another factor in the Seahawks’ decision to go with Michael: There is an open roster spot at the position because change-of-pace/kick returner back Leon Washington was released after the team acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin in a March trade with the Minnesota Vikings.
“You can never have too many,” said Smith, pointing to the way the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints have used multiple backs by choice, necessity or both. “Leon did a great job. With the size that he had (5-8, 203), he gave us everything he had. But this guy is a lot like what we have with Marshawn and Robert.
“We don’t have to play small ball, let’s put it that way.”
Michael wore No. 33 at A&M and will inherit that number from Washington when the rookies report next Thursday for their three-day minicamp that starts Friday.
But even while wearing the same number, no one will mistake Michael for Washington. His style is one where power takes precedence over finesse, and the first step is the most important step.
“He’s our kind of runner,” Schneider said. “He’s a tough, intense, up-field, one-cut guy. A very good football player.”