In the eyes of at least one prominent analyst, Sony Michel’s finish to the 2017 season has catapulted his NFL draft stock.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said that Michel has vaulted into the second round — and possibly the late first round — following his senior season.
While Michel was technically the No. 2 back behind Nick Chubb throughout his time at Georgia, he is apparently the one projected to a higher draft slot at the moment.
"(Michel's) a solid second-round pick," Kiper said. "He's got that burst outside, the bounce outside ability, the inside running ability. He blocks extremely well in pass protection. He catches the ball out of the backfield. I think Sony Michel helped himself late this year. He probably went from a fourth- or fifth-round pick up to a second-round pick."
Kiper said the only thing keeping him out of his projected first round is the fact the majority of NFL teams are now waiting to grab running backs in the draft.
As for Chubb, Kiper believes he began the year as a late first- or early second-round prospect but has since slipped to the third-through-fifth round range.
"Late in the year, it was Sony Michel who was the key guy," Kiper said. "The pass blocking of Michel is better than Chubb. I think the versatility overall, being able to run up the gut inside and bounce outside. That dual versatility as a runner is why Sony Michel has moved ahead of Nick Chubb."
Michel and Chubb both ended the 2017 season with over 1,000 rushing yards, which marked the first time Georgia ever saw two running backs achieve this feat in the same season. Chubb led the way with 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns and Michel totaled 1,227 yards and 16 touchdowns.
While Kiper was complimentary of Michel, he didn't seem too keen on junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson's decision to declare for the NFL draft. Thompson announced his professional intention after a junior season that saw him record 38 tackles and zero sacks.
Kiper said Thompson is not a first-round prospect, which probably should have led the Albany native to return for a final season of football.
"Thompson didn't have the year expected (of him)," Kiper said. "I don't know why guys leave early who aren't first-round picks. I always say if you're not a first-round pick, go back. Where will he go? He still has a chance to be a third-, fourth- or fifth-round pick. We'll see how the process plays out. It's a little too early. He looked like a first- or second-round pick going into the year. He didn't have that kind of season."