The New England Patriots don’t care about mock drafts. They don’t care about anyone’s rankings or big board. All the team cares about is their own internal big board, and with their pick in the first round it’s clear they stuck to their gun.
Many expected the Patriots to select an offensive lineman early, but no one thought it would be Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn. In all honesty, it seemed like he may have even been off the board before New England got a chance to make a selection. The draft was crazy on Thursday night though, and extremely talented players were available late. The Patriots obviously loved Wynn, and there’s a chance he makes a move to tackle, but it was still a bit surprising.
The most shocking Patriots move though came when they chose a running back, Wynn’s Georgia teammate and roommate Sony Michel. He’s a premier back that has been compared to Alvin Kamara, but the Patriots didn’t have a need for a running back. This is where it became clear that they were sticking to their big board, regardless of position or need.
Bill Belichick wants to get difference makers onto his team, and he did so in Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Isaiah Wynn’s fit
Connor Williams from Texas was still available when the Patriots selected Wynn at #23, and no one would have been shocked if they called the Longhorns name. New England may have gotten the best pure pass blocker in the draft though.
Wynn played both tackle and guard at Georgia, but his 6’3″ size makes him a more likely guard in the Patriots system. They could look to develop him into a Nate Solder replacement though. He doesn’t seem to have a preference on where he plays.
“It doesn’t matter to me. Wherever the coaching staff thinks to put me, I’m ready to help contribute to the team in any way I can,” Wynn said when asked if he prefers tackle or guard.
Wynn is a stud, as he allowed just five pressures while playing left tackle in the SEC. Yes, he was going up against premier pass rushers, and was holding his own and winning battles.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 27, 2018
Wynn is much different than Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, but there are some smaller tackles in the NFL. Chicago’s Charles Leno Jr. is also 6’3″ and he has started every game for the Bears over the last two seasons. The worst case scenario is that Wynn winds up as a guard for the Patriots, but that still wouldn’t be so terrible. He has the skills to develop into a perennial All-pro at the position, and he could be New England’s next Logan Mankins.
Sony Michel’s impact
Sticking with the Georgia Bulldogs, the Patriots used pick #31 on running back Sony Michel. They could have added a pass rusher, a linebacker, a corner, or even Lamar Jackson, but they stuck to their big board. Michel was likely a target the Patriots loved, and teams like the Browns and Colts in the beginning of the second round would have scooped him up before New England made their next pick. Now, Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels have their own Alvin Kamara.
Michel has some injury concerns and some turnover issues, but the Patriots didn’t think they were enough to pass on the runner. He runs with power and is extremely quick. Michel is a clear replacement for Dion Lewis.
CASERIO EXPLAINS WYNN AND MICHEL PICKS: “We try to pick good players” pic.twitter.com/5pIEKY96oo
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) April 27, 2018
New England is now loaded at running back, and this is likely bad news for Mike Gillislee, who had trouble finding the field last season. The Patriots will likely utilize Michel and Rex Burkhead on first and second down, as Belichick continues his use of James White on third. Jeremy Hill may also have a tough time cracking the roster now, but Brandon Bolden should be safe as a special teams ace. In the meantime, Michel will aim to take in as much as he can from the other backs on the team.
“What can they teach me? How much can they teach me? I’m just so eager to know what can they teach me and I’m just excited to have other guys there that I know I can go in there in learn from; words can’t describe.”
Words probably can’t describe the feelings of most Patriots fans after the team landed both Wynn and Michel. The duo could become key pieces of the franchise for years to come, and the thought of a premier running back to take over the load when Tom Brady does eventually retire is intriguing.
New England will be back at the NFL Draft tonight for the second and third rounds. They currently have picks #43 and #63 in the second round, and #95 in the third.