Patriots Go Against The Grain in Round 1

ARLINGTON – The first round of the 2018 Draft saw five teams select quarterbacks in the first round. The New England Patriots were not one of these five. There were thirteen selections of defensive players in the first round, and none by the Patriots, three months removed from allowing forty points in the Super Bowl.

In a first-round stocked with defensive talent and quarterback prospects, the Patriots chose an offensive lineman, Isaiah Wynn, and a running back, Sony Michel, with their first-round picks. Wynn was selected No.23 overall while Michel was taken 31st overall.

Wynn is the end result pick acquired in the trade of Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks to Los Angeles in early April.

New England immediately filled the holes created by the departures of left tackle Nate Solder and running back Dion Lewis in round one.

Though a few inches undersized, University of Georgia tackle Isaiah Wynn is praised by scouts for his pass blocking and versatility. Pro Football Focus graded Wynn as the most efficient pass blocker in all of college football last season with a grade of 98 out of 100, perfect for a pass-heavy offense in need of protection for its 40-year-old quarterback. Though listed as a tackle, Wynn also expresses interest in playing any of the guard and tackle positions. New England lost two of its linemen for extended periods of time last season, so Wynn’s versatility and eagerness are appreciated.

Wynn was the sixth of seven offensive linemen taken in the first round, and Michel was the third of three running backs taken in the first round. The number of quarterbacks taken was expected, but these were unusual trends in recent draft history.

Sony Michel is an intriguing prospect for his incredible quickness and pass-catching. He fits the mold of a modern NFL running back in today’s pass-happy game, and no team pushed this trend further than Josh McDaniel’s Patriots offense. Michel also discussed how he models his game after Patriots running back James White. Ironically enough, Michel will have to compete with his prototype in White for an extended role next season. The running back battled with injuries and for playing time while at the University of Georgia, so a training camp competition is nothing new to the 20-year-old.

Michel was the shifty change-of-pace back to future NFL draft pick Nick Chubb, who also dealt with injuries that allowed Michel to step up in Chubb’s absence. If the name Chubb rings a bell, Nick Chubb is the brother of Denver’s top draft pick, defensive end Bradley Chubb.

Wynn and Michel are already familiar as both were teammates and roommates at Georgia. They join Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and center David Andrews as products of Georgia’s football program.

New England addressed running back and the offensive line in the first round, but there are still holes at positions such as cornerback, quarterback, defensive end and linebacker that will be addressed in later rounds of the draft.


Image: Georgia offensive guard Isaiah Wynn (77) and tailback Sony Michel (1) during the Bulldogs’ game against Georgia Tech at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. (Photo by John Paul Van Wert/ UGA Sports Comm)

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