By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots drafted Georgia running back Sony Michel with the 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. New England previously showed interest in the former Bulldog when they met with Michel at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
One of the most explosive backs to come out of the SEC, Michel played 14 games for Georgia in 2017, running for 1,227 yards on just 156 carries and rushing for 16 touchdowns. He also caught nine passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Michel boasts solid size at 5-foot-11 and 214 pounds, and is known as mainly a north-south runner.
Here are some of Michel's strengths, via NFL.com:
-- Decisive runner who rarely takes unnecessary losses by trying to be the hero
-- Runs with discipline and looks for the optimal path
-- Has good burst after cuts
-- Six of his touchdown runs went for 16 yards or more this year
-- Stout lower body can rip through arm tackles and allows for plus balance through contact
-- Highly respected, vocal leader
-- Excellent in blitz pickup
-- Understands his blocking responsibilities and will square up and take on rushers
-- Two-year captain
And some of his weaknesses:
-- Lack of agility precludes him from making late cuts to elude incoming tacklers
-- More angular runner than one who can make sharp cuts
-- Had some huge rushing lanes to work with thanks to scheme and improved blocking in 2017
-- Open field balance is inconsistent
-- Plays with aging bull mentality in short yardage and needs to improve his feel for finding creases
-- Will duck head and finish prematurely if he doesn't see an early opening to work with
-- Serviceable as pass catcher, but has had issues catching it cleanly
And of course, being a running back, Michel has no shortage of highlights from Georgia to enjoy:
Michel's ability in the passing game was better than his relative lack of catches in 2017 would suggest. He'll have a chance to be a receiving threat out of the backfield for the Patriots, and his abilities as a pass-protector will give him a chance to earn plenty of snaps in the Pats offense.
Between his powerful, decisive running, and ability to do other things besides carry the rock, Michel certainly sounds like a Bill Belichick kind of back. He'll have a chance to top the depth chart with James White, Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee also on the roster entering 2018 training camp.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].