Sony Michel

After his younger brother’s success, Marken Michel ready to make a name for himself

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After his younger brother’s success, Marken Michel ready to make a name for himself

As Marken Michel has been clawing to create a football career of his own, he watched as his younger brother went to a college powerhouse, got drafted in the first round of the NFL draft and then became a Super Bowl champion as a rookie. 

That would make a lot of guys jealous. 

Not him. 

“There’s never been a bone of jealousy in that relationship at all,” said Allen Pinder, a close family friend whom Marken and Sony Michel consider an older brother. 

While Sony has found fast success in the NFL, his older brother (by about year and a half) has taken a more circuitous route. 

Marken Michel, 25, went undrafted out of UMass in 2016, spent that summer with the Vikings and then went to the Canadian Football League for the past couple seasons before joining the Eagles in January. 

After an impressive offseason, Sony’s older brother might finally have his own chance to stick in the NFL. 

At the end of the day, I said this my first year when I came out of college,” Marken said last week, “one of us is going to put that last name on an NFL jersey. Whether it’s me or him or both of us. He knows I’m super proud of him. I’m always there with him every step of the way. I’m always going to root for him.

Always competitive

While Marken is a receiver now, he was a quarterback until his junior year of high school. Sony, of course, was the running back, who played varsity football as an eighth-grader. Pinder, 37, doesn’t think that would have happened without older bro watching out for him. 

In fact, Pinder thinks a lot of Sony’s football success can be directly attributed to Marken. 

“Marken pushed Sony and Sony wanted to be like Marken,” Pinder said in a phone call last week to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Marken started off with more success than Sony did and it has kind of driven Sony to be like, ‘I need to get where Marken’s at.’ Marken always fueled Sony. ‘I need to work harder, I need to be better.’”

As you might imagine between two athletic brothers who are a year and a half apart, there was a constant competition between them as they grew up in Florida. They competed in everything. Football, baseball, basketball. 

Marken said they used to have 3-point shootouts at their childhood park. He was asked who is ahead in the all-time tally and he didn’t hesitate. 

“Me,” he said. “Of course.” 

Would Sony corroborate that? 

“He better, or he’ll be lying.” 

The two are wildly competitive but are also best friends. When they talk, it’s rarely about football. But, of course, when Sony played in Super Bowl LIII in February, Marken was there rooting for him. Marken said that Sony knows when he’s watching him play, he better not mess up. 

Sony’s Patriots won Super Bowl LIII, 13-3, over the Rams. Sony had 18 carries for 94 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown. 

“He knew it,” Marken said. “He knew if he didn’t, I would be on him.” 

North of the border

After things didn’t work out for Michel in Minnesota, where Pinder thinks he wasn’t really given a great opportunity, he ended up with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. He was the CFL West Division Rookie of the Year in 2017 and was a part of the Grey Cup-winning team in 2018, although he missed the end of the season with a broken scapula. 

He was bummed to miss the Grey Cup in November but was thrilled his team won. Since he was in OTAs in May, he and linebacker Alex Singleton (who is also on the Eagles’ roster) missed the ring ceremony. Singleton was heading north for the Stampeders first game of the season this past weekend and Michel gave him the job of bringing his ring back to him. 

In two years in the CFL, Michel made a name for himself, catching 72 passes for 1,215 yards and eight touchdowns. He had so much success, it wasn’t easy to leave. 

“I kind of felt like I had a good situation up there in Canada,” Michel said. 

Back to the NFL 

Michel didn’t tell anyone when he signed with the Eagles. His family — Sony and Pinder, included — found out when the Eagles announced it on Twitter. 

Pinder said he knew Michel had a couple workouts, but he didn’t know how they went. When confronted by his brother via text, Michel simply texted back a smiling emoji. 

“I’m real low key,” Michel said. “I don’t like the spotlight.”

But he found it this spring. Michel has emerged as a real contender to steal one of the final roster spots at receiver for the Eagles. In the absence of a few starters at OTAs and minicamp, Michel even got some first-team reps and worked well with Carson Wentz.  

If things don’t pan out with the Eagles, Michel could probably go back to Canada and resume what was already a promising career, but he’s trying not to think about that or anything aside from giving this chance everything he has. 

But he is well aware the Eagles play the Patriots this season. If he makes the team, little brother will be waiting.

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Should the Eagles take a RB at 32?

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Should the Eagles take a RB at 32?

The Eagles on Friday reportedly hosted a formal visit with LSU running back Derrius Guice.

If the Eagles have real interest in Guice, they know he won’t be there beyond pick 32. He might not even be there at pick 32. So would the Eagles seriously consider taking a running back with their first-round pick?

The Eagles’ running back situation is murky going forward. LeGarrette Blount has found a new home. Jay Ajayi will have an enormous role in this offense, but is only signed through 2018. Corey Clement will likely take on a bigger role after he proved himself as a pass catcher and, more importantly, a pass protector. Kenjon Barner’s value is strictly as a returner, a need the Eagles may look to address elsewhere. Then there’s former mid-round picks Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey who I mention in this space simply because they have roster spots as of today. And don’t forget about Darren Sproles, who’s still lingering in free agency.

The free agent market is less than inspiring. Adrian Peterson is out there but he’s not going to play for free. Do you want to bring back former Eagle DeMarco Murray or (almost former Eagle) Frank Gore? Didn’t think so. You could take a chance on an Eddie Lacy or a Matt Jones, guys who showed promise but lost their way. But, again … meh.

Last year’s running back draft class was crazy deep and talented. So much so that the Eagles were able to pick up Clement off the street after he didn’t get selected. This year’s class isn’t far behind it.

There’s an obvious RB1: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. No, Eagles fans. It’s not happening. You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, focus on the guys the Eagles have an actual shot at getting. Guice, for one, would be an excellent addition as a lead back. There’s also USC’s Ronald Jones, a Jamaal Charles clone that would fit like a glove in this offense. Then there’s Georgia’s dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb is more of a bell cow while Michel is more dynamic.

The history of the Eagles drafting running backs high is not illustrious. Since they made one of the worst decisions in franchise history by selecting Michael Haddix No. 8 overall in the loaded 1983 draft, it’s been a somewhat mixed bag. They took Keith Byars No. 10 overall and Anthony Toney in the second round in 1986. Byars was OK, but Toney was a bust. They took Siran Stacy in the second (48th overall) in 1992 who never logged a single NFL carry. They did better in 1994, selecting Charlie Garner in the second round (42nd overall), and hit it out of the park in 2009, selecting their all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy at pick 53.

The Eagles clearly have running backs on their radar in this draft. Though their history isn’t great with drafting them high, this would be the year to do it.

8 NFL draft prospects to watch in CFP National Championship

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8 NFL draft prospects to watch in CFP National Championship

It’s time to crown the college football national champion.

It’s also our last chance to get a look at some NFL prospects before postseason All-Star games and the combine.

Here are eight prospects to watch in tonight’s CFP National Championship.

Alabama vs. Clemson
Mercedes Benz Stadium
8 p.m., ESPN

Georgia

No. 27 - Nick Chubb, RB, senior (5-10/225)

Chubb fits the mold of a bell cow back. He had a ridiculous freshman season filling in for an injured Todd Gurley in which he ran for 1,547 yards on 7.1 per carry. Chubb then suffered a gruesome knee injury of his own the following season. Chubb could’ve come out after a so-so junior campaign in 2016 but opted to return for his senior year. And boy, did that move work. Chubb rushed for 1,320 yards this season and 15 TDs while sharing time with the player listed below. If not for the injury history, Chubb would easily be considered the second-best back in the draft behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. The Eagles’ biggest need certainly isn’t at running back, but with a loaded class and questions about Jay Ajayi’s chronic knee issues going forward, it’s certainly worth looking into.

No. 1 - Sony Michel, RB, senior (5-11/215)
The other half of Georgia’s dynamic rushing attack has seen his stock rise, especially after his 181-yard, three-TD performance against Oklahoma. For the season, Michel has also gone over the 1,000-yard mark while averaging eight yards a carry with 16 TDs. Despite a couple productive seasons in 2015 and 2016, this season has really gotten Michel on to the NFL draft radar. A strong combine could only boost his stock.

No. 7 - Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, senior (6-6/243)
I would love to profile stud LB Roquan Smith, but with how he’s played recently, it’s hard to imagine him falling out of the top 15, let alone to wherever the Eagles pick. Carter fits the mold of former Bulldog and first-round pick Leonard Floyd (Bears). Much like Floyd, Carter never reached his full potential as a pass rusher in college (14 career sacks) because of his role. But as was the case with Floyd, someone will fall in love with his measurables. Could that team be the Eagles? Carter would be an intriguing rotational pass rush piece.

No. 6 - Javon Wims, WR, senior (6-4/215)
Wims has quietly had a solid season for Georgia and provided true freshman QB Jake Fromm with a reliable target. Wims led the Bulldogs in receptions (44), receiving yards (704) and TDs (7). While the numbers aren't mind blowing, Wims has one distinguishable NFL trait: size. That size helps him beat press coverage and make contested catches, two important things at the next level. Wims also has sneaky quickness, which was evident against Oklahoma. He ran several hitches where he stopped on a dime and hauled in a couple easy completions.

Alabama

No. 9 - Bo Scarbrough, RB, junior (6-2/235)

The bruising back gained a ton of hype after monster performances in the CFP last season. After beating up Washington's highly-touted defense (180 yards, two TDs), Scarbrough was having a similar performance against Clemson in the title game (93 yards, two TDs) before breaking his leg in the third quarter. Whether it's lingering effects from the injury or other factors, Scarbrough just hasn't had the same impact this season. He's rushed for just 573 yards on 4.8 yards a carry. His freakish physique and physical running style will intrigue somebody in the middle rounds. If the Eagles want a smash-mouth heir apparent to LeGarrette Blount, Scarbrough could be that guy.

No. 34 - Damien Harris, RB, junior (5-11/221)
Part of the reason for Scarbrough's lack of production is the emergence of Harris. With 17 yards tonight, Harris will have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. That's impressive considering his timeshare at the position and playing with a run-heavy QB in Jalen Hurts. Harris may have come into the season less heralded than Scarbrough, but he'll end it being the better NFL prospect. He's a complete back and could be a steal in this deep class.  

No. 3 - Calvin Ridley, WR, junior (6-1/190)
Serious question: how does a program with a consistently inept passing game snag all these stud receivers? Following in the footsteps of Julio Jones and Amari Cooper, Ridley will likely be the next 'Bama wideout to be a first-round pick. After an impressive 1,045-yard, seven-touchdown freshman season, Ridley hasn't reached the 1,000-yard plateau in either of the last two campaigns (65 yards would get him there tonight, however). But the numbers don't tell the whole story. Ridley is lightning quick and an outstanding route runner. He has decent size and can take the top off a defense (his ability to track deep balls is also exceptional) . Most consider him to be the draft's second-best receiver behind SMU's Courtland Sutton. That's probably fair, but neither receiver is expected to go in the top 15. If Ridley somehow falls to the Eagles in the 20s, they should take a long, hard look. He'd be an outstanding complement to Alshon Jeffery and give Carson Wentz another dangerous weapon.

No. 32 - Rashaan Evans, LB, senior (6-3/234)
Evans is at the heart of Alabama's stellar defense. The senior 'backer recorded 66 tackles (11 1/2 for a loss) and six sacks. He's not the easiest player to evaluate because of the run-heavy SEC and how clean the Crimson Tide's stout front keeps him. But what Evans does show is solid instincts and great burst. He trusts his eyes and doesn't over commit on fakes. He's a strong blitzer (he was recruited as an edge rusher) and plays a violent brand of football. In the small sample size of coverage snaps he has, he's looked solid. His time at MLB will serve him well, but he might be best served as a weak side linebacker at the next level. One that might look pretty good next to a (hopefully) healthy Jordan Hicks.