It’s Friday and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.
Patriots Add Two Bulldogs – The Patriots stuck to the offensive side of the ball on Thursday night during Round 1 of the NFL Draft and took two players out of Georgia, grabbing offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel in the first round.
With Bill Belichick having spent time at Georgia’s Pro Day last month, he must have obviously been pleased with what he saw after selecting two players from the University. Wynn’s addition is interesting primarily because he was sidelined that day during the workout while recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum. However, Belichick must have been pleased with what he saw on film and with what he heard, which gave him enough confidence to spend their first pick on him. Wynn is reportedly a well-respected player, having been named one of four permanent captains during his time at Georgia.
Wynn and Michel are the latest two Bulldogs to join New England’s roster, with Malcolm Mitchell having been drafted in 2016 and center David Andrews having joined the team as an undrafted player in 2015. Andrews has become a key player on New England’s offensive line and Wynn admitted that Andrews was helpful back when the newcomer was just a freshman.
“Pretty close. I’m actually very close with him,” Wynn told reporters Thursday night when asked about his relationship with New England’s center. “He was, coming in as a freshman at Georgia, he was one of the guys who was like a big brother and took me under his wing. I just learned a lot from him coming into my freshman year because as a freshman it’s kind of rough just getting adjusted, but David Andrews helped me a lot. He helped me a lot.”
As for Michel, he’s an interesting addition. Looking at his numbers, he was clearly an explosive player, averaging 6.1 yards per carry rushing the football, along with 9.7 yards per reception. He rushed for 3613 yards on 590 carries during his career along with 33 rushing touchdowns, as well as catching 64 passes for 621 yards and six touchdowns out of the backfield.
But despite being a tremendous athlete, he’s definitely not afraid of contact, which you can see below:
Sony Michel is not to be taken lightly. pic.twitter.com/1KsYNBoO9O
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 15, 2017
Michel told reporters he was excited to see Wynn drafted, with the offensive lineman having been roommates with him in college. Even better, now they’re NFL teammates.
“I shot him a couple of texts. I’m excited for him, especially him being one of my roommates in college,” said Michel. “I’ve seen how hard he works, so I was very excited for him in the moment. I shot him a couple of texts. I knew he had a lot going on so I really couldn’t have too much interaction with him, but just talking back and forth I was just expressing my emotions for how I feel about his situation.”
The one question with Michel has been his injury history, which has seen him banged up. He’s dealt with a broken forearm (a non-football injury that happened in an ATV accident), along with injuries to his knee and ankle. But his knee is reportedly the bigger concern, with Mike Lombardi reporting before the draft that the Georgia running back was potentially dealing with a “bone-on-bone” condition in his knee and that may be the reason he fell so far in the draft.
However, Lombardi still liked what he saw from Michel and if he’s healthy, Lombardi feels Michel could be a productive player in the NFL.
“I love this kid,” Lombardi said via DawgNation.com. “I think I’m concerned. There’s a lot of teams telling me there’s a medical concern here, so he could slip a little bit. I don’t know what it is, but the way the medical works at the combine is there’s a table with like six doctors from each team at one table and six different from another team at another table. His medical grade is a little iffy from what I’m told.
“But this kid, to me, is the prototypical NFL back. He can catch the ball, he can impact the passing game. Remember how we have to evaluate running backs– it’s block, catch, run. It isn’t run, catch, block. And this kid blocks well. This kid can be impactful. I love this kid as a player.”
Michel also downplayed the injury reports, telling reporters that there’s nothing to worry about.
“I’m not sure what’s out there, but I’ve been playing with no problems,” said Michel. “I don’t have any injuries. I’m not sure what you guys are hearing.”
With the loss of Dion Lewis this offseason, it appears that Belichick may have found a potential replacement to compliment James White in the backfield if Michel can take the next step. But either way, he should be fun to keep an eye on in the coming months at training camp.
Patriots Passed Twice on Jackson – One other thing that was interesting about Thursday night is the fact that despite their apparent interest in Jackson, which even saw them bring him into Gillette Stadium recently, the Patriots passed on him twice on Thursday night.
They selected Wynn at #23 overall, before electing to grab Michel at #31. If they had any plans on taking him later, the Baltimore Ravens put an end to that notion when they jumped in and made a last-minute trade with the Eagles to snag him with the #32 overall pick to close out the evening.
As expected, the top quarterbacks were gone long before the Patriots had an opportunity to pick, with Sam Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen all off the board by the time the Patriots made their first pick at 23rd overall. Two of those players are now in the AFC East, with Darnold having been taken by the Jets and Allen being taken by the Bills.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a former second-round pick so the odds of New England finding someone they feel confident in the later rounds are pretty good. Now we’ll just have to wait and see who is on Belichick’s radar when the draft resumes tonight.
AFC East Additions – Taking a look at the AFC East, there were some interesting selections made by the Patriots Division rivals in round one Thursday night.
Following the selection of quarterback Baker Mayfield by the Browns and the Giants’ selection of running back Saquon Barkley, the Jets jumped on USC’s Sam Darnold at #3 overall to try and bring stability to a quarterback position that’s been a mess in recent years.
Darnold brings with him an impressive resume. The 6’4″ standout is an accurate, athletic passer, coming out of the NFL Combine having run a 4.85 40-yard dash. He finished his career completing over 60% of his throws, finishing 303-of-480 for 4143 yards (63.1%) in 2017 and 246-of-366 for 3086 yards (67.2%) in 2016.
The biggest question will be whether or not the Jets can develop him and help him take the next step as an NFL starter, or if he’ll end up as another failed attempt to shore up a position that’s been shaky for as long as most can remember. Time will tell.
His selfie with Jets fans would lead you to believe he’s got his work cut out for him as he’ll likely be under intense pressure to turn that franchise around.
— NFL (@NFL) April 27, 2018
He has absolutely no idea what he's gotten himself into. https://t.co/UbyBq6bzwM
— PatsFans.com (@PatsFans) April 27, 2018
Meanwhile, the Bills made the first splash of the night, jumping up to the #7 spot after making a trade with Tampa Bay and grabbing who they believe will be their quarterback of the future after selecting Josh Allen. The move reportedly cost the Bills two second-round picks to move up and leapfrog everyone to get him.
The former Wyoming quarterback has been the subject of controversy heading into the draft, having made racial slurs in Tweets he made in high school that got him in a bit of trouble. However, prior to the start of the night, Allen took responsibility for being what he said was “young and dumb.”
“First off going back to six years ago, I was a kid. I’m not the same person I was,” Allen said via NFL.com. “Obviously we were young and dumb — me and my friends — and that’s what we did. We made mistakes; I own up to it. I’ve learned from it and I’ve learned throughout the way. This is just a reiteration from what I’ve learned through my journey going to [Junior College], going Division 1. I love my family, I love my teammates. Obviously, this is a very embarrassing moment but the support I got from my teammates at Wyoming and at my Junior College has been outstanding. They know who I am, I know who I am. Obviously, it was not the best situation but I’m looking forward to tonight.”
He’s a strong kid with good athleticism and does a good job throwing the ball when moving to his left but appears to be a project after having issues with accuracy (56% last season). The latter stat is a little concerning when you take into account that according to ESPN’s Stats and Info, Allen threw a higher percentage of short passes than Darnold, Mayfield and Rosen, with 30 percent of his attempts having traveled zero to 5 yards in the air.
Needless to say, he appears to fall under the category of a player who seems to have some questions and may have some work to do as he tries to help the Bills become contenders in the AFC East again.
The other interesting moment of the night came at #10 when Arizona made a deal with the Raiders to jump in front of the Dolphins, who were reportedly set to take quarterback Josh Rosen. Instead, it was Arizona, who signed Sam Bradford this offseason, who swooped in and grabbed him. Rosen was thought by many to be the best quarterback in the draft, so the fact he was kept away from the Dolphins is at least the one solace Patriots fans can take away after many were hoping he might fall far enough for New England to have a shot at him.
That left Miami to have to settle for Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, adding some size and athleticism to their secondary. The 6’0″ Fitzpatrick finished with eight pass break-ups and an interception in 2017, but he has nine career interceptions, including four he returned for touchdowns. He’ll reportedly be playing safety in Miami’s defense.
Buffalo later jumped up again, moving up from 22 to 16 after making a trade with the Ravens. With the pick, the Bills took linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, grabbing the 6’5″, 253-pound star out of Viriginia Tech.
Edmunds is a big, speedy linebacker who is considered to be a good edge rusher, while also having terrific lateral quickness out in the flat. Should he end up on the field by the time the Patriots meet them in week 8, it could potentially set up an interesting battle between he and Rob Gronkowski – which could be one of the big reasons why he was on Buffalo’s radar.
Rounds two and three will take place beginning at 7pm on Friday night.