Mike Mitchell (safety)

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Mike Mitchell
refer to caption
Mitchell with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015
No. 23 Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: Free safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1987-06-10) June 10, 1987 (age 29)
Place of birth: Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school: Ft. Thomas (KY) Highlands
College: Ohio
NFL Draft: 2009 / Round: 2 / Pick: 47
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2016
Total tackles: 433
Sacks: 7.0
Forced fumbles: 7
Pass deflections: 39
Interceptions: 10
Player stats at NFL.com

Michael Mitchell (born June 10, 1987) is an American football free safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played college football at Ohio.

Early years[edit]

Mitchell attended Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky for his first three years. He lettered as a sophomore and junior before transferring to Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., where he lettered one, and earned Kentucky All-Star honors, in addition to being selected honorable mention All-State as a senior. That year, he led the team to the state title, recording 87 tackles with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown.

College career[edit]

Mitchell began attending Ohio University in 2005 to play football for first year coach Frank Solich. He began the season on the bench but would eventually earn his first career start the second game against Pittsburgh. On October 8, he made his first tackle in a game against Bowling Green and end the game with 5 altogether and one for a loss. Ohio would play Toledo in week 10 and Mitchell would rack up a career-high 8 tackles and force a fumble. He would finish his freshman season with a total of 21 tackles, 2 pass deflections, and a forced fumble for an Ohio team that would end the season at 4-7.[1]

He would return in 2006 for his second season and begin the season as a back-up but would play in all 14 games. For week 6, Ohio would play Western Michigan and Mitchell would record a season-high 7 tackles in the 27-20 victory. The next week he would receive his first start at free safety against Illinois and would maintain the starting role the next 7 games. In a week 10 matchup against Eastern Michigan, he would make his first career interception in the fourth quarter that would lead to the game-winning touchdown. The Bobcats would play Central Michigan in the MAC Championship, with Mitchell shifting over to strong safety and ending the game with 6 tackles and an interception. After losing to Southern Mississippi, Mitchell would end his season with 55 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and a forced fumble.[1]

After a season where the Bobcats would end with a 9-5 record, Mitchell would return as the Bobcats starting strong safety in 2007, despite having many injuries. During a week 4 contest with Wyoming, he would amass a career-high 14 tackles and 2 interceptions. The next game, Mitchell would assist 7 tackles and have 1.5 tackles for loss against Kent State. He would end the season with a career-high 74 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a team-high 47 solo tackles.[1]

For his final year Mitchell would start 11 games at strong safety for the Bobcats. During a week 4 contest at Northwestern, he would pick off 2 passes in an 8-16 loss. While playing against VMI, he would make 4.5 tackles for a loss and 2 forces fumbles. After sitting out week 11 against Bowling Green with an injury, he would return the next game against Akron, Mitchell to make 9 tackles in the 49-42 victory. He would finish his senior campaign with 62 tackles and lead the team with 3 interceptions.

Mitchell started 30 of 45 games at Ohio—23 at strong safety and seven at free safety. He would end his career at Ohio with a total of 213 tackles, 126 solo, 14.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 7 interceptions for 140 return yards.[1]

Professional career[edit]


Mitchell wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, but performed well at Ohio's Pro Day. He ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and he did 22 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press to go along with a 37½-inch vertical and a 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump.

Pre-draft measureables[2]
Ht Wt 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20 ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6'1" ** 216 lb ** 4.39 ** 1.50 ** 2.55 ** 4.19 ** 6.85 ** 37½" ** 10'3" ** 22 ** X

(**represents Ohio Pro Day)X = did not participate

Oakland Raiders[edit]

Mitchell playing against the Broncos in 2010.

2008 NFL Draft[edit]

Mitchell's selection raised eyebrows on draft day, as most television commentators had never heard of him and could not find him in draft guides. Mitchell was generally expected to be a second-day pick or an undrafted free agent.[3][4] ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said Mitchell's grade was somewhere between the 40th and 70th safety available in the draft, and the NFL Network's Mike Mayock had given Mitchell a seventh round grade.[5] But after posting a 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash at Ohio's pro day, he was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 47th overall selection. Later on draft day, it was reported that Mitchell was being targeted by the Chicago Bears (selecting at 49—two spots behind the Raiders).[6] However, after Mitchell was taken by the Raiders, the Bears ultimately traded their selection. Upon report of this, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network apologized to the Raiders for his low grade.[7] Mel Kiper later gave it "Most Likely To Make The Raiders Look Good Award," stating "Oakland took Michael Mitchell, OK?" "I asked teams after the draft. The misnomer is it's all Mel Kiper's opinion, it's all Todd McShay. You have to ask other teams. We're not the end-all, be-all. Some said they had him as a free agent. One team told me they had Michael Mitchell in the third round. They had him as a Pro Bowler. They think it's a great pick by the Oakland Raiders. So Oakland wasn't the only team out on the island that saw something in that kid."[8]

Mitchell is the highest Ohio player to be drafted since Gene Ruskowski's fifth-round selection (44th overall) by the Los Angeles Rams in 1948. The last time an Ohio student-athlete was drafted in a higher round was the Bobcats' only first round selection, Art Lewis (ninth overall) in 1936 by the New York Giants.[9]


On July 29, 2008, the Oakland Raiders signed Mitchell to a four-year, $3.77 million contract.[10] He began his rookie season as the backup strong safety to Tyvon Branch. On December 13, 2009, he had his first career sack on Redskin's quarterback Jason Campbell. He finished his rookie season with 11 tackles in 16 games.[11]


On September 26, 2010, he earned his first career start and made two tackles in a 23-25 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. During a Week 9 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Mitchell finished the 23-20 victory with a season-high seven total tackles. On December 12, 2010, he intercepted his first career pass from Jaguar's quarterback David Garrard during the Raider's 31-38 loss. He finished his second season in the NFL with 51 total tackles, five pass deflections, and an interception in three starts and 16 games.[11]


After an 8-8 season, the Oakland Raider's fired head coach Tom Cable. In Mitchell's first season under new head coach Hue Jackson he remained the backup strong safety for the third season behind Tyvon Branch. He missed the first three regular season game due to an injury and returned in Week 4. On December 11, 2011, he earned his third consecutive start of the season against the Green Bay Packers and intercepted a pass from Aaron Rodgers while making four solo tackles during the Raider's loss. He finished 2011 with a total of 31 tackles, five pass deflections, and an interception in 13 games and four starts.


After an 8-8 season, the Raider's fired Jackson after one season and Dennis Allen was hired in his place, marking Mitchell's third coach in four years. On November 18, 2012, Mitchell started his first game of the season against the New Orleans Saints and finished the 17-38 loss with a career-high 11 tackles. He finished his final season with the Raiders with 41 combined tackles and one sack while starting two games and playing in all 16.[11]

Carolina Panthers[edit]


On March 20, 2013, the Carolina Panthers signed Mitchell signed a one-year, $1 million contract with $250,000 signing bonus.[10][12] Entering the season, he was named the backup strong safety to Charles Godfrey. He played in his first game during a Week 2 matchup against the Buffalo Bills after Charles Godfrey suffered a season-ending injury and made three solo tackles in his place. The following week, he earned his first start during a 38-0 victory over the New York Giants and made two tackles. During a Week 6 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, he made seven total tackles and intercepted Viking's quarterback Matt Cassel two times, returning them for 62-yards. The following game, he made a season-high eight solo tackles in a victory over the St. Louis Rams.

In his only season with the Panthers, he had a career season, making a career-high 3.5 sacks, career-high two forced fumbles, and a career-high four interceptions[13] His play contributed to a season where the defense was ranked second in the NFL in total yards, rushing yards, and points, and helped the team win a division title and playoff berth for the first time in 5 years.[14][15] Mitchell finished the season with a total of 66 combined tackles and a career-high 8 pass deflections.[11]

Pittsburgh Steelers[edit]


On March 11, 2014, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mitchell to a five-year, $25 million contract that includes $5.25 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $4.75 million.[10][16] Entering training camp, he was expected starting free safety, replacing Ryan Clark, who left for the Washington Redskins during the off season. He started the season opener against the Cleveland Browns and made a season-high 7 combined tackles. During a Week 7 contest against the Houston Texans, he recorded a season-high 6 solo tackles. On October 25, he was fined $7,875 for taunting during a victory over the St. Louis Rams.[10] After starting a 16 regular season games, he finished with a total of 71 combined tackles and 3 pass deflections


The following season, he returned as the Steeler's starting strong safety under new defensive coordinator Keith Butler. On October 12, 2015, he made a season-high 7 solo tackles in a victory over the San Diego Chargers. Four days later, he was fined $8,681 for an unesscary roughness penalty against Charger's tight end Antonio Gates during the game.[10] The following week, he made two tackles and intercepted a pass from Cardinal's quarterback Carson Palmer during the Steeler's 25-13 victory. It was his first interception with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Week 8, he intercepted Bengal's quarterback Andy Dalton and returned on for 7-yards, while also finishing the loss with five combined tackles. Mitchell finished the season with a career-high 80 combined tackles, three interceptions, a career-high nine pass deflections, and two forced fumbles.[11]


On November 24, 2016, Mitchell finished a Thursday night football victory over the Indianapolis Colts with a season-high seven combined tackle, six solo tackles, and intercepted quarterback Scott Tolzien for his first pick of the year.


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