If the voters are correct, Seahawks running back Christine Michael is about to step up and show everyone what he can do in 2014.
In what was far and away the biggest response we’ve ever had in a Sound-Off Saturday survey, Michael was the clear winner as the player you believe will take a major step forward in 2014 and have a breakout year that surprises a lot of people.
First, let me thank everyone who voted either on ESPN.com, my Twitter page, my Facebook page or by sending me an email. I even had a couple of people come up to me at a restaurant Saturday night and tell me who they would choose.
Clearly, this was a passionate topic for the 12s. What surprised me the most was the number of players who received votes. Twenty-nine players received at least one vote, but the winner was no contest.
Michael, the 2013 rookie out of Texas A&M, received 21 percent of the vote. A distant second was receiver Percy Harvin with 10 percent of the total vote.
I agree that Harvin is likely to have big numbers is 2014 after missing most of last season with a hip injury, but I don’t think it will surprise most people if Harvin has a big year.
There is a bit of a link between Harvin and Michael. The Seahawks gave up their first-round draft pick last year in the deal to acquire Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings.
Michael was a surprise second-round pick, which was Seattle’s first choice in the 2013 draft. Clearly, the Seahawks were drafting talent over need because they have one of the best backs in the NFL in Marshawn Lynch and a quality backup in Robert Turbin.
The Seahawks were drafting for the future, as was true for most of the 2013 Seattle draft selections.
By the way, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll tends to agree with you on Michael. During the NFL combine in February, Carroll said he though Michael could have a breakout season in 2014.
“He’s really talented and he’s a really exciting guy in our program,” Carroll said of Michael. “He probably has the most breakout potential of anybody because you haven’t seen much of him yet. We’ve seen him and we know that he can do really special stuff.”
It all depends on his much Michael will play. Lynch remains the centerpiece in Seattle's power-running game. And for now, Turbin still is No. 2 on the depth chart. He isn’t as talented a runner as Michael, but Turbin is a better blocker, an area where Michael needs to show improvement.
There’s little doubt Michael is the back of the future for the Seahawks. But will it start in 2014 or is he more likely to blossom in 2015? By Carroll’s words alone, it seems obvious Michael will get a lot more than the 18 carries he had as a rookie.
And my pick for a 2014 breakout player? I'll go defense and say Williams, the 2013 rookie from Alabama who missed last season with a knee injury. The big Aussie (6-foot-3, 325 pounds) will be a force at defensive tackle.