With the 31st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Patriots selected Georgia Bulldog Sony Michel. This is the first running back the Patriots have selected in the first round since Lawrence Maroney.
Michel comes into the league with a tremendous opportunity to produce in a Tom Brady led offense. In the past, the Patriots have been known to have a game-by-game approach with their running backs. However, this situation feels different. Bill Belichick spent a first round pick on Michel for a reason. He joins a backfield with James White (pass catching specialist), Rex Burkehead (often injured), and Brandon Bolden (Special Teams). With the departure of Dion Lewis, and his 180 carries, the backfield is wide open.
At Georgia, Michel often played second fiddle to Nick Chubb. However, Michel was able to flash lead-back talent when he was given a sufficient workload. For example, during the Rose Bowl, Michel ran for a whopping 181 yards on 11 attempts. He also added four receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. He followed that performance up with a 98 yard effort on 14 carries versus a stout Alabama defense.
Michel has the ability and situation to be a successful NFL running back. Michel will be an important part of the Patriots offense, but he will not be the centerpiece of the offense. In an offense that features Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman, Michel will have room to grow. In recent history, running backs who have entered the league in a stable offense have had time to develop and thrive. This will allow him to ease into the NFL and have a better understanding of the game. Michel is a smart player and will thrive in the NFL. He has the mental and the physical abilities to produce. The fact that Belichick was willing to spend a first round pick on him should indicate the kind of player he can and should become.