Surprisingly to many, the New England Patriots made both of their draft picks without moving up or out of the first round and took two players that Coach Bill Belichick and Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio must have really fallen for in a pair of Georgia Bulldogs OL Isaiah Wynn and RB Sony Michel.
First up is Wynn, the 6’3″ tackle from UGA that can make it at the next level at the position in the New England offense, but also projects to be an elite interior offensive lineman at Guard. With the pick the Patriots got from the Los Angeles Rams for Brandin Cooks, Belichick and Caserio filled a critical position of need on the line to protect Tom Brady and replace the departed Nate Solder. Wynn is a nasty mauler who owns the line of scrimmage and finishes his blocks with defenders planted on their backside. Doesn’t have the prototype size to be an NFL tackle, but with Dante Scarnecchia as the o-line coach and the way they run their offense, he could be their every-down left tackle.
Wynn had the best pass block efficiency of all the guys in this years class at 98.0% according to Pro Football Focus, and allowed just five pressures in all of 2017 and only 26 in his 2,609 collegiate snaps. The Patriots landed a great offensive lineman in the back-end of the first round and can pair him on the line with another former Dawg in center David Andrews. With Rashaan Evans snatched up by the Titans, the pick here was on the line with Wynn.
Next up was their own selection at No. 31 that raised a lot of eyebrows for the skeptics out there. The Patriots selected dynamic running back Sony Michel with their own pick over Lamar Jackson or a few top linebackers on the board. I am usually not a fan of taking a running back in the first round, but Michel is explosive and dynamic and he showed those skills down the stretch on Georgia’s way to the SEC Championship and the National Championship game. He’s a home run hitter and a dynamic game-changing back much like the departed Dion Lewis.
There were a few questions about his health with a knee injury concern, but according to multiple reports it was heavily vetted by New England and they were comfortable pulling the trigger to get potentially the next Alvin Kamara. Michel ran for a career high 1,227 yards last year at UGA with 16 touchdowns averaging 7.9 yards per carry. He torched the Sooners in the semi-final as did Wynn mauling the Oklahoma defense all day. Clearly Bill Belichick loved what he saw watching these two guys in the big games.
New England has plenty of options and picks left to address the QB of the future (Kyle Lauletta) and fill some holes on the defensive side of the ball. I’m really high on LB Sam Hubbard out of Ohio State who should be there when the Patriots pick tonight at 43, but going offense in the first round in Michel & Wynn is fine by me. Two great picks for Bill Belichick to support the greatest Quarterback to ever play the game.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank