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Is Jerick McKinnon a Poor Man’s Christine Michael?

jerickmckinnon

Andrew Cohen wrote a smart piece earlier in the week highlighting the potential to get Christine Michael while he’s still relatively discounted. That’s an awesome idea.

But I’m really a nit about pricing and can’t stand to pay fair value for anything – even if I sometimes end up smoking cigar butts left on the street, just for their one free puff. Paying Christine Michael’s appreciating price is no different. I would always rather look at a player and try to get a poor man’s version as long as I can talk myself into believing that the free price makes that player worth it. Jerick McKinnon might be that player. Here is his combine information from Mockdraftable, which lists Michael as one of his comps.

 

McKinnon isn’t exactly the freak that Michael is, but he’s close. He’s actually faster in the 40 than Michael, although McKinnon weighs about 11 pounds less. McKinnon’s times in the agility Combine drills are great but not otherworldly like Michael’s. But McKinnon is probably just as explosive as Michael is. Michael is ahead in the vertical while McKinnon is easily ahead in the broad jump.

On production measures neither guy is going to jump off the sheet at you. Michael’s final year of college featured really underwhelming production. Things like carries, yards and touchdowns actually have some correlation with fantasy scoring so that kind of matters.

Via PFR

Christine Michael College Stats

Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
*2009 Texas A&M Big 12 RB 12.00 166.00 844.00 5.10 10.00 15.00 66.00 4.40
*2010 Texas A&M Big 12 RB 8.00 126.00 631.00 5.00 4.00 13.00 174.00 13.40
*2011 Texas A&M Big 12 RB 9.00 149.00 899.00 6.00 8.00 8.00 35.00 4.40 1.00
*2012 Texas A&M SEC RB 11.00 88.00 417.00 4.70 12.00 8.00 48.00 6.00
Career Texas A&M 529.00 2,791.00 5.30 34.00 44.00 323.00 7.30 1.00

McKinnon did really well last year from a yards per carry standpoint but he just didn’t rack up the touches that you want to see. Superstars like Ray Rice, Steven Jackson and Matt Forte all showed in college that they were capable of carrying the ball a lot. Here’s a summary of McKinnon’s seasons at Georgia Southern.

Jerick McKinnon College Stats

Year Team G Rush Yds Yd/Rush TDs Rec Yds Yd/Rec TDs
2010 GaSo 10 109 495 4.5 3.00 0 0 0
2011 GaSo 13 80 537 6.7 7.00 6 127 21.2 1
2012 GaSo 14 269 1817 6.8 20.00 1 15 15 0
2013 GaSo 10 161 1050 6.5 12.00 3 23 7.7 0
Career 47 619 3899 6.3 42.00 10 165 16.5 1

The interesting thing to note is that in 2012 when McKinnon was playing QB in the triple option he actually did carry the ball quite a bit, although still less than the 30 combined touches per game that I would like to see out of a prospect. One reason that I think total touches might matter quite a bit for RB prospects is that the efficiency that a player has in college is likely to be heavily related to things that won’t follow them to the NFL, like scheme and offensive line. But a player’s ability to touch the ball a lot of times per game at least tells us that they can stand up to getting the shit beat out of them once a week for three months.

But I think the point is that neither guy is going to flash based on their total college production. Michael never even had a 200 touch season in college. Both are physical specimen that have athleticism across a number of categories.

The key difference is that McKinnon will cost almost nothing in your rookie draft this year, while Michael was going on the 1/2 turn last year. That happened even though it was obvious he was sitting for at least a year. Also, even if McKinnon is drafted in the later rounds we know how fragile the running back position is. It’s also really unlikely that he goes anywhere and has to compete with another back as physically talented as he is. In fact, the best case scenario for him might be to go to a situation where he’s backing up one of the guys that’s been in the league for a few years but is in his late 20s now, just like Michael did. One thing that might help McKinnon early in his career is that he doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and doing some blocking. The triple option offense required that he block almost as often as he touched the ball.

I feel relatively certain that I’ll be using a rookie pick on McKinnon. The only real question is how his draft spot and situation affect the price I’ll be paying.

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