Meet the Newest Patriots Players: What the Experts Say About the First Round Draft Picks

Posted by: Gronkowski

Well, we now know at least two of the new players to be wearing Patriots jerseys next season!

After an exhilarating Night One of the NFL Draft from Dallas, Belichick and co. came away with two first round picks.

We’re sure you ALL know their names by now, but just in case you were in a cellphone signal Siberia last night -- here’s a refresher.

With the 23rd pick, the Pats took Isaiah Wynn, a guard/tackle from Georgia. Then with the 31st pick, they took Sony Michel, a running back also out of Georgia (which shocked many a fan who were hoping they’d nab quarterback Lamar Jackson from Louisville).

 

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2018 marks the first year that the Pats have used two first round picks on offensive players, but owner Robert Kraft isn’t complaining. “We’re pretty excited to have them both,” he said, as he introduced his newest employees.

So what do we need to know about this pair of Bulldogs? While we’re firm believers of “in Bill we trust,” here is what some of sports pundits are saying.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Wynn
The Patriots’ top need entering the draft was left tackle, and if Wynn ultimately fills that void, this will be a pick in which top talent meets top need. I had listed Wynn as a potential Patriots target at guard, which is where some teams projected him because he is short for a tackle (6-foot-2 3/8). One NFL general manager described him this way to me: "Undersized with different body type; good football player." Wynn is considered a technically sound player, and with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia having one of the best reputations in the business, his endorsement of Wynn goes a long way toward the feeling that this is a solid pick.Wynn told reporters in New England he underwent surgery on his labrum in January but said Thursday night he believes he will be ready for June’s minicamp. Regardless, the team won’t rush him. Wynn showed toughness to play through the injury, was a captain in his senior season and went up against some of the most NFL-ready players in college football in 2017. The St. Petersburg, Florida, native is a rare player in that he could probably play all five spots on the line.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Michel:

Michel, if healthy, is the team’s most dynamic threat at the spot. The key words are “if healthy” as Michel’s injury history and the condition of his knee gave some teams concerns. Best-case scenario: It’s similar to what unfolded in 1995 with Curtis Martin, who had similar questions coming out of Pittsburgh. Overall, the selection of Michel -- along with that of offensive tackle/guard Isaiah Wynn at No. 23 -- reflects how the Patriots place a high priority on “football character,” as both are leaders and highly respected among teammates. They were also roommates at Georgia.

Michel had 12 career fumbles in college, which could be an issue, but director of player personnel Nick Caserio said late Thursday that the team isn’t alarmed. Caserio used Patriots Hall of Famer Kevin Faulk as an example of a player who had ball-security struggles early in his career before turning things around. “We spend a lot of time when a player gets here on ball security,” Caserio said. “Right now, I don’t think it’s an issue.”

Patriots.com on Wynn
To further add to the uncertainty, Wynn underwent surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder after the Senior Bowl and will be limited in the offseason. He told reporters he planned to be ready for mini-camp in June but even if that turns out to be true he still will miss valuable on-field development time.If Wynn can play tackle – and there are plenty of folks who believe he can – the pick makes a lot more sense … With Nate Solder gone to the Giants via free agency the Patriots are lacking a bonafide option at left tackle. LaAdrian Waddle re-signed after filling in for Marcus Cannon on the right side last season, and he would likely qualify as the top in-house candidate to take Solder’s place in 2018. Tony Garcia, last year’s third-round pick, also will be in the mix after missing his rookie season due to a blood clot issue but he’s a huge unknown. So there’s an opportunity for Wynn to enter the mix if he proves capable of playing tackle.

Patriots.com on Michel
The Michel pick doesn’t come without questions either. He is a dynamic back with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, as his 64 career catches indicates. He was part of a one-two punch with Nick Chubb that led the Georgia offense and carried the Bulldogs to the national championship game.

Michel has drawn comparisons to New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara, who took the league by storm with his multi-purpose skills as a rookie last season. But he also has a knee injury that was a significant red flag for some teams, and with James White, Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee already in the fold to say he doesn’t fill an urgent need would be an understatement.

Michel’s talent is unquestioned, and if his knee checks out the backfield will have a different element. But that doesn’t mean the picks made sense.

 

But enough from the analysts, what do our first round draftees think of each other? They were teammates and college roommates who have been friends since high school, after all! NESN has the answers for us, as Wynn and Michel gave scouting reports on each other. 

Michel on Wynn:
I would say he’s the best offensive lineman -- I’m not even going to put a position, because I’m not a coach -- but I would say he’s the best offensive lineman that I’ve seen in a long time. His skill set, he’s able to do everything you ask of him. He’s a coachable player. He’s one of those players that, if a coach tells him to do one thing, he’ll do it.


Wynn on Michel:
To me, he’s a do-it-all running back. He can run. He can catch. He’ll make somebody miss in the open field. He won’t dodge hits. And the best part that I like about him is his leadership and his vibe. For example, one day, a guy may not be feeling up to working. (Michel) comes in every day -- I’ve never seen a day where he didn’t feel up to working. … You can easily catch his vibe, and he’ll get you right on point.

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