Michael is the type of player you look at and you take for granted right away. He has solid size and speed and is very strong when blocking in open spaces. He has good feet, excellent balance and the ability to catch the ball in traffic, hang onto it and take the big hit. Michael is used mostly as a slot receiver by his college team and his blocking is mostly done when he is put into motion. He is not being used as a true tight end and, because of that, he looks like he might be a tweener type of player. But don't be deceived, this kid's potential to be an excellent blocking and receiving tight end for the team that drafts him is all there hiding in a 6'5" 255 lbs frame. When he blocks, you can see the quick feet and lateral agility to mirror his opponent. When he is in the red zone, you can see the match-up problems in the passing game that he causes with his size and pass catching abilities. He is flexible enough to go up in the air, adjust to the ball and keep his feet in bounds. Michael is the type of player you learn more about every time you throw the ball to him or ask him to make a block. Right now, I don't believe Michael really knows how talented he is. He just does what he needs to do, when he needs to do it. Michael shows excellent leadership skills through his play on the field and is very smart. He is that "clutch type" player who comes thru the door of opportunity when others are ready to close it. The difference is, Michael doesn't recognize it as a door of opportunity -- to him, it's just another door.
Michael will have to get stronger if the team that drafts him wants to use him as an in-line blocking tight end. I have no doubt that he can be an in-line run blocker, but I know it won't happen overnight. I know he can pass block and help out the tackles, but he will have to become more consistent. In general, though, I have no doubt that Michael can accomplish anything you ask of him, you just have to ask. Give him some time, that's all he needs.
Michael is just one of those guys that does what he does when he does it. I saw him catch a pass on a wheel route, jump up in the air between two defenders, turn his body while in the air, take a ferocious hit from the safety and tap his feet in bounds for a 25 yard completion. Now there is nothing in the way Michael plays that gives you the impression that he is that athletic, but when the situation called for it, Michael pulled out that athleticism from somewhere and then went back to the line to get ready for the next play. Michael stands on the line, runs a route and catches the ball -- nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary. But then on the next play, he goes in motion and blocks a quicker, faster, linebacker, cornerback or safety in the open field and stays with them all the way until he drives them out of bounds at the end of the play. I don 't think most people understand the athleticism it takes for a 6'5" player to block and stay with (in the open field) a player who is 5'10" or 5'11" and mirror them all through the block until the whistle. After that play, Michael lined up for the next play. It is a simple ten yard in route to catch the ball for a first down. No big deal. There is a lot more to this kid's game than most are giving him credit for and the team that drafts him will realize that the first day of practice in the NFL. Give him some time and Michael will be just fine. A core player and sure to be the coaches' and fans' favorite.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart April/12