Why Michael is on the list
He almost wasn't on the list.
Despite Michael's limited-but-juicy game film, pounding the table for a sophomore breakout campaign is a tough sell for one simple reason: Marshawn Lynch.
Beast Mode, after all, has averaged 300.3 carries per year over the past three seasons while forcing an outrageous 108 missed tackles last autumn, a whopping 31 more than the second best runner. Lynch's grip on the position kept Michael to just 18 carries as a rookie.
The former Texas A&M thumper with freakish combine numbers brings a hard-charging, downhill style to his game that fits perfectly with Seattle's offense. "He has breakaway speed and power behind his pads," coordinator Darrell Bevell recently cooed.
I went back and watched all of Michael's regular-season snaps and preseason work from Year 1.
The sample size is thin, but Michael bursts off the screen. He runs with a low center of gravity and a heavy dose of power. While dishing out punishment, the 5-foot-10, 221-pounder still has the wheels to dart away from would-be tacklers into the second level and beyond.
Want proof? Check this out, children:
Some "Making the Leap" candidates come attached to a large body of work. When it comes to Michael, we admittedly have less evidence at our disposal. What we've witnessed, though, leads us to agree with Carroll, who called Michael the "biggest breakout candidate"on this championship roster.
We run the risk of jumping the gun.
Despite hints Seattle plans to spread the wealth, Lynch remains the centerpiece of Seattle's run-heavy offense.
Michael's best chance to make the leap is to make it impossible for Seattle to pull him off the field. He struggled with off-the-field issues at Texas A&M and lost time to a broken right leg and torn left ACL in college. If he can stay healthy and pull his weight protecting Russell Wilson, Michael is bound for a boost in touches.
"He's going to get a ton of work," Carroll recently promised.
After Michael was activated for just four games as a rookie, we project him to leapfrog Robert Turbin and suit up from wire-to-wire in Year 2.
A split backfield is unrealistic, but Michael has a shot to see 100 carries and increased playing time down the stretch. He's done a lot with a little before, having scored 12 touchdowns on just 88 carries during his final collegiate campaign.
Riddick opined this week that if Michael gets the chance to eat this fall, "he'll show he's the most gifted running back drafted in past five years."
Bottom line? We anticipate Michael being viewed with confidence as Seattle's running back of the future by Christmas.