Michel’s value took a hit when the Pats drafted Damien Harris, but he’s still the go-to guy in Foxborough.
Sony Michel had an amazing rookie year by anyone’s standards – he broke into the NFL as a first-round pick, earned substantial playing time, and even won a Super Bowl by scoring the game-winning touchdown. However, he finished as the RB25 in standard scoring and RB35 in PPR. Entering his second year in the league, it looks as if he will remain the Patriots’ early-down and goal-line back, a prime position to be in.
Michel’s biggest competition for work will be James White, who flourishes in the red-zone. White, who finished last year as the RB11 in standard scoring and RB7 in PPR is a pass-catching machine. However, White scored 62.0 standard points during Weeks 7-10 when Sony Michel was injured. That was 32.7% of the points he scored during the entire season. Michel should handle the early work, but his receiving opportunities are limited with White in the backfield.
The rising sophomore took a big hit when the Patriots drafted Damien Harris in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Harris, an Alabama product, was hailed as a steal where he was taken. His selection was still a surprise, as the Patriots spent a ton of draft capital last year on Michel. Regardless, Belichick has a soft spot for Alabama players and has no problem taking the best player available even if it doesn’t suit an immediate need. Harris isn’t the best running back on the team, but he can provide in the running and passing attack.
Rex Burkhead made multiple big plays during the end of the season and playoffs when he was finally healthy, but don’t worry too much about the veteran. Burkhead doesn’t command carries even when he is healthy, and it’s almost inevitable that he’ll be injured at some point in the next season. With the recent drafting of Harris, it would not be a surprise if Burkhead didn’t make the final roster, or ended up on Injured Reserve beforehand.
With all of the talent among the Patriots’ running backs, it’s safe to say that the trio of Michel, White, and Harris will all receive work. The question is predicting who will get the goal-line work, and as of now, that should be Michel. If Isaiah Wynn is recovered from his Achilles injury and ready to step in at left tackle, it will be a large boost for Michel, who ran behind Wynn at the University of Georgia.
Michel had an early third-round ADP before the NFL Draft and is now labeled as a late third-round pick. He will be a boom candidate if he can retain the bell-cow role that he executed quite well last year, when given the opportunity. White could end up being the safer pick, but those who take the risk of drafting Michel early could be pleasantly surprised.