The New England Patriots have themselves quite a running back in first-round draft pick Sony Michel, just ask running backs coach Ivan Fears.
When the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Sony Michel’s name as the No. 31 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, there was some surprise amongst New England Patriots fans. With defensive players like Harold Landry still on the board, there was a reason to wonder why a team that struggled defensively was going offensive.
You see, typically Bill Belichick doesn’t puck that much value in a running back that high in the draft. The last one the team selected in the first round was in 2006 when they selected Laurence Maroney at No. 21.
But, during those days, the defense was the strength of the team.
So why a player like Sony Michel so high in the draft?
Well, he’s a playmaker. Coming off a season at the University of Georgia where he rushed for 1,227 yards and showing an ability to catch the ball, Michel is made for a system like New England.
By now, I’m sure you’ve seen many highlights and read all the analysis. But, how does the highly touted running back look in person?
During Patriots’ rookie minicamp over the weekend, New England Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears got a good look. While he won’t admit to any sort of excitement over a player who hasn’t played an NFL snap yet, he certainly likes the talent he adds to a group of veteran running backs.
"“He’s a playmaker, man,” Fears told the media. “Whenever Georgia needed it, whenever they wanted to do something with a back at the end of a game, he was the guy who was touching the ball.”"
With the versatility of running backs Fears have coached throughout the years, Sony Michel is a combination of all of them. At 5-foot-11, 215 pounds, he has the speed and quickness of a Dion Lewis and the power of a LeGarrette Blount. Overall, he is a dynamic weapon who can bring it to the house whenever and wherever he touches the ball on the field.
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"“He’s very physical for a guy who is really good in the open field,” Fears continued. “Most of those (open-field) guys are scat-back types. He’s very productive in the open field and he’s also very productive inside because he has some stout to him.”"
Before we get too excited about Sony Michel, Ivan Fears did point out some things he needed to work on, like ball security. But, what better place to solve that issue than New England.
Health not an issue
Of course, health will play a major role in the type of production Sony Michel gives the New England Patriots.
With a long list of injuries that included a “bone-on-bone” knee condition, the No. 31 pick overall could turn into one of those players who stand on the sideline more than they see the field. But, that could be the case with any player in the NFL.
While the injury concerns are very real, the Patriots have done their homework and feel comfortable with Michel. The player himself says there is nothing to worry about.
"“I’m healthy,” Michel said when asked about his knee condition. “I’m not sure what’s out there, but I’ve been playing with no problems. I don’t have any injuries. I’m not sure what you guys are hearing.”"
Unfortunately, until Sony Michel plays a full season in the NFL in a New England Patriots uniform, those questions will be out there. With a player with his talent, this gives him something to prove.