Seattle Seahawks select Christine Michael and Jordan Hill in NFL draft
RENTON — Christine Michael, the Seahawks’ second-round draft pick, didn’t think Seattle would take him.
“I thought that y’all forgot about me,” Michael said.
Quite the opposite, Christine (pronounced Chris-TIN).
The Seahawks pulled another draft-day surprise Friday by selecting Michael, a 5-foot-10, 221-pound running back from Texas A&M, with the 62nd overall pick. Of all the avenues the Seahawks could have ventured down, few draft analysts, if any, had Seattle taking a running back in the second round.
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But general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll had a black-and-white reason for making the selection: “He was the highest player on our board,” Schneider said.
The Seahawks did fill a need during the NFL draft on Friday by selecting Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill in the third round. Hill, who is 6 feet 1 and 303 pounds, profiles as more of a pass-rushing option at defensive tackle, though Carroll said Hill is also capable against the run.
Schneider said the Seahawks had a little “hole” at defensive tackle.
“That was the one spot, quite honestly, when you’re putting it together, you’re a little nervous that maybe you’re pushing players because of a need,” Schneider said.
Hill set career bests with 4 ½ sacks and 8 ½ tackles for loss as a senior at Penn State. He said he prides himself on always playing with a high motor.
“It’s really everything to my game,” Hill said.
The Seahawks return starter Brandon Mebane at defensive tackle and signed free agent Tony McDaniel to replace departed Alan Branch. Carroll said Hill will factor into the rotation immediately this season.
Yet the talking point of the second day was Michael, a player with enormous ability who has a history of injuries and off-the-field issues.
Michael was a five-star recruit coming out of Orange, Texas, the same hometown as Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. Michael led the Aggies with 844 yards as a freshman and was named the Big 12 offensive freshman of the year by the league’s coaches.
At the time, he was viewed as one of the league’s rising — and most explosive — young players. But he broke his right leg in the eighth game of his sophomore season.
He rushed for 899 yards, including 230 yards against Arkansas, in the first nine games of his junior year, but his season ended abruptly again when he tore his ACL in his left knee against Oklahoma — a game Schneider attended.
After that season, Texas A&M fired Mike Sherman and replaced him with Kevin Sumlin and a new offensive scheme. Michael struggled to adapt and was suspended for a game for violating team rules; he made matters worse when he tweeted, “Man run the ball” during the game.
He lost his starting spot, fell to third on the depth chart at one point and didn’t play in the Aggies’ Cotton Bowl win against Oklahoma. He finished third on the team with 417 yards and 12 touchdowns.
During the NFL combine, he overslept and missed two team interviews, according to NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt.
“I was terribly sick,” Michael said. “Even performing on that Sunday, I couldn’t give my best out there. I had the cold. I had flu-like symptoms. I just felt bad. I felt terrible. I took that NyQuil and I took that Mucinex and it passed me right out.”
Said Carroll, “We went into all the background stuff.”
Matt Berry, the Seahawks’ Southwest area scout, said Michael is a powerful downhill runner and that Seattle wouldn’t have taken him if there were concerns about his past. Michael is in a similar mold as current running backs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, though Berry said Michael is more of a one-cut-and-go runner.
Said Schneider: “Have you seen him physically yet? He’s put together pretty good.”
Michael will compete for carries in the Seahawks’ backfield and will also play on special teams, possibly as a punt returner.
All that will be decided in the coming months.
“I finally get to live my dream,” he said. “Playing pro ball has been my dream since day one. I just want to go to the league and just do it for my family, my daughter and just be something that I can’t even imagine myself being.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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