Last night’s National Championship game between the Georgia Bull Dogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide was filled with a ton of talent on both sides. Guys like Calvin Ridley (WR, Bama) Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB, Bama), and Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia) are some of the few that will go early in the first round of this years NFL Draft.
With those players not being options for the Patriots at the end of the first round, there are still plenty of talented players from both schools that the Patriots could scoop up with their first, second, and even third-round picks. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Now I know Nick Chubb gets a lot of the spotlight in Georgia’s backfield, but Sony Michel should not be overlooked. He’s currently projected as a 2-3 round pick, and I think the Patriots could use another running back come next season. Rex Burkhead is a free agent, Dion Lewis is a free agent, and they could cut ties with Mike Gilislee after a very unproductive season. If he’s available with one of those second-round picks, they should absolutely consider scooping him up.
If one of the running-backs currently on the roster is to go in the off-season, Michel could wind up being a perfect candidate to fill their shoes. This season, the senior back rushed for 1,227 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns on 156 attempts. In the passing game, he hauled in 9 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown.
And if there is any truth to this comparison, I would welcome Michel to New England with open arms:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 9, 2018
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Every Patriots fan knows that this teams linebacking core is one of their biggest weak points. Watching Dont’a Hightower go down early in the season didn’t make things much better. Rashaan Evans, who is also out of Alabama, like Hightower, could be a perfect addition to a Pats linebacking core that lacks a lot of depth and young talent.
Evans has laid out some pretty big hits during his time at Bama, and he can pretty much do whatever you ask of him. It might be a stretch, but there’s a decent chance he is available at the end of the first round. If he is, there’s no question the Patriots should try to grab him.
He finished his senior season with 35 solo tackles, 39 assisted tackles, 6 sacks, and one forced fumble.
DeAndre Baker, DB, Georgia
He hasn’t entered the draft yet, but DeAndre Baker could be one of the most interesting defensive back prospects in this years class. The Patriots DB’s got absolutely torched by almost every QB they faced at the beginning of the season. I mean, they let Josh McCown put up 300+ yards for crying out loud. While they were able to kind of patch things up in that area as the season progressed, there are still a lot of question marks heading into the off-season. Malcolm Butler is a free agent, and if he leaves you’re left with Stephon Gilmore at #1, who we all know has had a pretty dissappointing Patriots career thus far. I’m not saying Baker is the answer, but he certainly could be a step in the right direction.
Baker is currently ranked the #11 cornerback by CBS Sports and is projected to go in rounds 3-4. The junior finished this season with 3 interceptions, 9 passes defended and 44 total tackles.
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
I really think the Patriots could use another safety, which is why I would like Ronnie Harrison if he’s available. Jordan Richards proved to be absolutely horrendous almost any time he was on the field this season. He was practically useless, so maybe adding another one would help? It would also take a ton off pressure off the shoulders of Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, and Pat Chung.
Harrison finished his junior year with 74 total tackles, 3 interceptions, and 4 passes defended. He is currently ranked as the #4 safety in this years class by WalterFootball.com and is projected to go somewhere in rounds 1-2.
The Patriots haven’t had a first round pick for two years now. It’d be really nice if they could use their pick this year, along with the pick they got for Jimmy G and their own second rounder, to maybe grab one of these guys if available.
Written By: Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)