RENTON — John Schneider threw in another surprise at a position where the Seattle Seahawks appeared set.
With linebacker and the line of scrimmage seeming to be Seattle’s priorities, the Seahawks went for Texas A&M running back Christine Michael with the 62nd overall selection, the final pick in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night.
The selection was another eye-catching move by Schneider, the Seahawks general manager. Seattle picked up a speedy, bruising back who played sparingly as a senior, joining Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. When asked which NFL running back he tries to emulate, Michael said, “Marshawn Lynch.”
“I just want to go into the league and do it for my family, my daughter, and just to be something I can’t even imagine myself being,” Michael said. “Just to be a powerful guy, a leader, and be a young player coming in with confidence and just help contribute.”
Seattle filled depth on the defensive line by selecting Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill with the 87th overall pick in the third round.
The Seahawks held the 56th overall selection but traded with Baltimore to drop back six spots and also picked up additional fifth- and sixth-round selections. The 62nd overall pick was the latest selection in Seattle’s draft history.
While it may not have appeared to be a need with Lynch and Turbin already in place, Schneider did want to come out of the draft with another running back to add depth after they released Leon Washington during the offseason. Seattle led the NFL in rushes last season with 536 attempts.
“We want this position loaded up. So the chance to get another good, strong, tough guy like we did just adds to the theme we’re trying to present as a team,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Michael saw limited action his senior season with the Aggies, but still rushed for 12 touchdowns. With the coaching change at Texas A&M between his junior and senior years, and a change in offensive styles, Michael had fewer chances.
There were also reports of Michael getting in trouble with new Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin and oversleeping at the NFL combine when he was fighting illness and taking medication.
“Like I mentioned in all of my interviews, the coaching change was definitely a difficult situation for me … but it was worth it,” Michael said. “I lived and I learned from it. The coaching change there was definitely some adversity I had to overcome and I did. I grew up a lot learning from that stuff.”
Both his sophomore and junior seasons were cut short by injuries. He rushed for 899 yards in nine games as a junior in 2011 before suffering a torn ACL. A year earlier, Michael suffered a broken leg and was limited to eight games. Still, he finished his college career at Texas A&M averaging 5.28 yards per carry and scored 34 touchdowns in just 40 games.
Going against convention has become little surprise with Schneider in charge. Last year it was taking defensive end Bruce Irvin with the 12th overall pick and drafting Russell Wilson in the third round. This time it was the pick of Michael.
“You can’t go through drafts and be passing on talents like Michael,” Schneider said. “When you start doing that, in my opinion, is when you start making mistakes. While it may not look like a glaring need, we run the ball so much we did have a hole.”
While getting Michael could be considered a luxury, getting help for the defensive line was a necessity. In Hill, the Seahawks feel they found a defensive lineman who has a quick first step and an ability to provide pressure from the interior. The defensive line was a point of emphasis in free agency with the Seahawks signing defensive end Cliff Avril, and defensive tackles Tony McDaniel and Michael Bennett, and Hill brings a little more versatility to the group.
“He’s different than the guys that we have. He’s got real nice quickness, an ability to get on the edge and get in the backfield and penetrate. He’s a really good effort guy,” Carroll said. “Because he’s different he’ll be right in the rotation and we’ll see how it fits.”
Hill was a first-team all-Big Ten selection as a senior at Penn State when he had 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and an interception. Hill started every game in his junior and senior seasons and played in 45 total over four seasons at Penn State.
“I’m a versatile player,” Hill said. “I’m not just a guy who can pass rush. I can stop the run.”
Seattle hopes to again capitalize on the final day of the draft. Thanks to the trade with Baltimore, the Seahawks picked up two additional selections and will have 10 picks on the final day. In recent seasons, the Seahawks have found starters Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright on the last day of the draft.
“This has been a great area of the draft for us and to have this many picks, the trade that we made, we’re going in very optimistically that we’re going to come out with some good stuff,” Carroll said. “There are some terrific kids in the draft at this point. We’ve worked very hard on this aspect of the draft again.”