Hold the war room phone — do Seahawks need another running back?

Staff writerApril 26, 2013 

NFL Combine Football

Texas A&M running back Christine Michael runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013.

DAVE MARTIN — ASSOCIATED PRESS

So, the Seahawks take a furlough for a day and a half and then finally draft a redundant running back?

What’s next, wasting a pick on the shortest quarterback in the draft? Or taking a 6-foot-3 cornerback with a fifth-round pick, thinking he can become a dominant force?

Maybe draft a 240-pound strong safety, or pick a defensive tackle and move him to guard.

Wait, what? General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll already have done those things the past couple years? And they worked out?

OK, so, they’ve earned some latitude even when their second-round pick is accompanied by a few red flags, such as when they used their first pick of the 2013 draft (62nd overall) on Christine Michael, a running back from Texas A&M.

The immediate electronic response from the masses Friday fell into two polarized camps: “In Pete and John We Trust” and “What the ...?”

Michael missed parts of consecutive college seasons because of a broken leg and a torn ACL. Then he got sideways with his coach, Kevin Sumlin, and in a reduced role, he averaged a modest 38 rushing yards a game as a senior.

He was benched for the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma in what was called a “coach’s decision.” This is less than a rousing endorsement for Michael as a teammate.

When he went to the NFL combine, he had the best running back marks in five disciplines, but he also overslept and missed two interviews with teams — the result

of cold medicine, he said.

But the most compelling argument against using a second-round pick on Michael is that the Seahawks already have Pro Bowl back Marshawn Lynch (age 27) and last year’s fourth-round pick, Robert Turbin, who averaged 4.4 yards a carry as a rookie.

They ran the ball a higher percentage of time than any team in the NFL, and they just traded for versatile play-making receiver Percy Harvin, who must be fed the ball with regularity.

Because of successes with the last three drafts, the Seahawks are in the position of not having specific needs that require immediate attention. But they still could use a weakside linebacker, and certainly depth across the board.

But third-team depth at running back? Schneider reminded that Leon Washington’s leaving as a free agent left them with a vacancy in the backfield.

Part of selecting Michael was a matter of following their draft protocol.

Schneider and Carroll said Michael was the highest-rated player available on their draft board when their time arrived, and that’s how they operate — need or not.

“He’s our kind of runner, tough, intense, up-field, one-cut guy,” Schneider said.

Carroll’s emphasis on the rushing game supports the need for bodies at that position.

“We wanted this position loaded up,” Carroll said. “I think this gives us great depth.”

A search of Michael’s video highlights shows a powerful back who is quick to the hole, with impressive balance who doesn’t give defenders much of a target. He looks a lot like Turbin — whom Seattle already has.

He was projected as a second-rounder, so his talents warrant the spot — for a team that needs a young running back.

Carroll and Schneider talked about draft choices being valuable as components of a successful team, even if they’re not immediate starters. Michael, Carroll said, is expected to be valuable on special teams.

And if they drafted only players who had clear paths to starting jobs, quarterback Russell Wilson never would have had a chance in Seattle, Carroll reminded.

“You can’t go through drafts passing on talents like Michael,” Schneider said. “While it may not look like a glaring need, we run the ball so much, and we did have a hole with (Washington’s departure).”

By trading down from 56 to 62 before taking Michael, the Hawks stockpiled two more picks, giving them 10 Saturday in Rounds 4 through 7.

Schneider by now has proven his ability to judge and acquire talent that will suit Carroll’s schemes and player specifications.

So Christine Michael will be given the chance to prove his worthiness. Carroll will give him the ball. And Schneider will keep him away from cold medicine.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440
dave.boling@thenewstribune.com
@DaveBoling

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