There are hundreds of stories being told during the planning and anticipation of the 2018 NFL Draft. My passion includes providing film-based reviews of prospects and highlighting their skills to help you apply to your fantasy football needs. In this scouting report, we will be looking at senior running back Sony Michel, Georgia Bulldog, one of the most discussed players in the upcoming Draft. If Michel is so good, why didn’t he ever start over Nick Chubb? Well, as a former high school football coach and educator by trade, let’s break down what I saw in the six games I reviewed on this senior playmaker in 2017:
[Note: These game videos are available via YouTube and DraftBreakdown]
RB Sony Michel, Georgia
5’11” | 216 lbs.
Games Studied: Auburn, Oklahoma, Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida, Tennessee
Cons: The first thing that jumps out about Michel is that he has twelve career fumbles with five of those lost. Turnovers kill drives, and most NFL coaches have little patience for young runners that put the ball on the ground. Michel needs to use both arms to secure the ball near the line of scrimmage and make sure he switches the pigskin to his outside arm near the sidelines. Also, the former Bulldog is a bit older as he turned 23 in February. Most dynasty owners prefer adding younger players to their fantasy stables. Another concern is that Michel’s leg drive is only adequate, so he may not be used a lot in goal line or short yardage situations. He was used sparingly up the middle, so while he had experience there, it’s not a strength. Now, this won’t matter as much in PPR leagues, but it could cause some concern in leagues with different scoring. Michel’s college teammate Chubb was a better and more powerful inside runner which is why Michel shared time and did not see as many scoring opportunities. Michel has also had his share of injuries; missing five games his freshman season with a fractured shoulder blade, one game his junior season with a broken forearm (all-terrain vehicle accident), and one game his senior season with an ankle injury. He isn’t used to a starter’s number of touches, but thankfully most NFL offenses rarely use a stud (or one) running back approach. Obviously, if a power running team were to draft Michel, as opposed to a zone-blocking team which would play to his strengths, his playing time would be more limited.
Pros: Michel is an amazing outside runner. Once he gets into the open field, his loose hips and quick feet maneuver around would-be tacklers as if they were standing still. Michel changes directions instinctively, leaving many defenders in the dust and he is most dangerous when his plays are schemed out in space. These plays include those where he runs out of the slot, is sent in motion, or is returning kicks. Michel has excellent vision and balance that allows him to read blocks and seek out a rushing lane to exploit. Finding cut back lanes is his lifeblood. The former Bulldog does a great job of not taking big hits by twisting, turning, and doing his best not to hit defenders head-on. Michel has soft hands and usually catches the pigskin well in stride which should project him for three-to-six receptions a game. Michel’s pass-catching successes will separate him from peers that don’t come with the same expectation (e.g., USC’s Ronald Jones II). He is a hard-working pass blocker, and what he lacks in technique, he makes up for in effort which should allow him to be on the gridiron most of the time.
Overall impressions: There are a lot of great running back prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. Michel is a great fit in most PPR leagues with his soft hands, excellent vision, and loose hips. While chances are high that he will find himself in a committee, the young back should receive at least 15-20 touches a game, and the former Bulldog should make the most of them. Because of these reasons, Michel should not only be considered a top-five rookie running back option but a top-five overall rookie selection in all non-two-quarterback league variants.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to generate and discuss 2018 rookie scouting reports with you so be sure to keep an eye on DTC for the continuous stream of new content! You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.