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Sony Michel and draft strategy

Discussion in 'Blinded by the Lombardis: Patriots Forum' started by BigSoxFan, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    We didn’t “need” a first round RB, which was entirely my point. Before the draft, we had Burkhead, Gillislee, and White in the fold. Clearly, you can’t rely on Burkhead staying healthy but they also had Gillislee who was only a likely cut because they spent a 1st on Michel. And then they added additional depth in Hill.

    Michel was and remains a dumb pick for this team. He is only leading the team in carries because Hill and Burkhead got hurt and because they were trying to force feed him against Detroit, which failed miserably.

    I sure hope that Michel provides some kind of value as the season progresses.
     
  2. Jimbodandy

    Jimbodandy Member SoSH Member

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    I'm as down on that pick as anyone, (because of slot and relative need), but it seems premature to have an opinion on the player based on two games. His practice time was very limited due to the injury, and the offensive line is a work in progress. He was not put into a position to succeed.
     
  3. Mystic Merlin

    Mystic Merlin Member SoSH Member

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    You think Gillislee was a viable option?

    Look, I think it’s reasonsble to challenge the wisdom of taking a RB in the top 60 picks or so, but I think you’re overreaching when you suggest we were fine at the position. Gillislee was as far in the doghouse as you can get by the end of last year.

    Comparing Hill and Burkhead to Michel is tricky because I think Michel will prove to be a better back between the tackles. These guys aren’t necessarily interchangeable when you look at their skill sets.
     
  4. dcmissle

    dcmissle Deflatigator Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    For Michel to warrant being picked where he was by this team this spring, he needs to be a transformational back. By that I mean a legit threat to take it to the house and someone who can carry a big part of the offense given the inevitable degradation at the WR position because of cap constraints.

    Putting aside health worries, which are another issue entirely, I was excited by the pick. College gave some indication he might be up to this level of performance. And if the ability is there, there is no reason not to expect it right out of the box in a rookie year.

    Some people argued that the pick was flawed period. I respect that POV though I disagreed at the time. But in the context of this team circa April of this year, and you need to judge these decisions at the time they are made, anything less than transformational performance by Michel makes this pick a massive fail.

    And if the response is, well they didn’t like the LBs (for example) on the board at that slot, then trade down, trade up, or maybe think about changing your defense or expanding your very narrow population of draftable players.
     
  5. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    I think Gillislee was viable backup depth. Burkhead/Lewis was a perfectly acceptable starting RB duo. I'm not saying that Michel is a bust or won't provide any value, I just think using a 1st round pick on him was dumb (note: I didn't at the time so I can be dinged for changing my mind here). RB could have been easily addressed later on in the draft. Guice went 2/59. Royce Freeman went 3/71. Either could have been had with the Dawson pick.

    Saying that RB was a "need" is correct. Saying that Michel was a good use of capital to fit that need is TBD but history is on my side on this one. As dcmissile just posted, for the pick to be a good use of draft capital, he needs to be a legit workhorse who provides explosive plays. I'll be rooting for that to happen.
     
  6. RedOctober3829

    RedOctober3829 Member SoSH Member

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    To provide explosive plays, he needs an offensive line to block for him. That hasn't been the case the last 2 games.
     
  7. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    He also needs to learn how to catch a football. That also hasn't happened. Explosive plays don't have to be limited to rushes. Again, I'm not saying Michel will suck, I just don't think the value will be there given the price paid.
     
  8. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    RB sometimes do contribute right away, but not always. Le'Veon Bell rushed for 860 yards at 3.5 yards per carry as a rookie, and his receiving game was a far cry from his prime, too. David Johnson had 500-something yards his first year. They're not all Adrian Peterson and great from jump.

    Why is "transformational performance" the standard? How many guys drafted in that range are that kind of player? That just seems to be setting yourself up for disappointment.

    Where I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here is that, while RB is considered low "positional value," so is off-ball linebacker! A non-pass-rushing LB hasn't gone top five since 2009 (Aaron Curry - yikes!). The top three paid RBs (Bell, Gurley, Johnson) all make more AAV than any off-ball LB (Jamie Collins #1, believe it or not).

    They had pick 43 also, and between 31 and 43 only two defensive players were taken, one (Harold Landry) with health concerns. They basically ended up trading 43 into 2019. It's pretty clear that a) they weren't crazy about the defensive talent in that range and b) this was the general consensus among the other teams selecting there. Maybe they (and most of the rest of the league) are wrong on that, maybe Duke Dawson was the wrong DB to target among the run of guys late round two, maybe Michel doesn't become what we'd like him to become. But I have a hard time criticizing them for taking Michel over a defender when a) few teams took defenders in that range and b) they had another pick a dozen slots later. To me, it's a way more valid criticism to argue they should have taken stayed at 43 and taken Josh Jackson, and then stayed at 61 and still taken a guy like Lorenzo Carter or Justin Reid or Fred Warner. The Michel pick has nothing to do with why the defense is bad.
     
  9. Smiling Joe Hesketh

    Smiling Joe Hesketh All Hail King Boron Dope

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    It's been 3 fucking games.

    James White is by far the best RB we have, and he couldn't even see the field in his rookie year here.

    It's absolutely ridiculous to say "I don't think the value will be there" after 3 games. Oy.
     
  10. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    No, it's absolutely not. Using a first round pick on a RB is almost never a good relative value play. Their careers are so short and the position can be adequately filled in later rounds. And if you're lucky enough to "hit" on one, you're looking at a 2nd contract that almost certainly won't age well.

    I'm not saying that Sony Michel won't provide any value. I'm saying that I don't think the relative value will be there. Oy.
     
  11. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    Is this true, or just what you think? RB were overvalued 20 years ago but they still touch the ball a lot. There seems to be this bizarre belief among certain people that RB is the least valuable position on the field.

    Every position can be filled in later rounds. Tom Brady was a sixth. Antonio Brown, too. Your chances go down, obviously.

    Again, this is true of a lot of positions, particularly linebacker (as we saw with Mayo and are seeing now with Hightower). Speaking of which, this RB value discussion should probably be broken out into a separate thread, mods.

    It's worth noting: one of the principles of Belichick's team-building philosophy has been cutting against the grain with positional value. He puts a ton of resources in "low positional value" spots like safety and tight end, while going relatively cheap at edge rusher and wide receiver. I see this as just Belichick being Belichick, and squares with what I see league-wide: QB are way more important than any other position, the differences in importance between all other positions are pretty overrated.
     
  12. Harry Hooper

    Harry Hooper Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Quite possibly yes, but not if he keeps bouncing so many runs outside. Mason being knocked into the backfield by journeyman Jean Francois was emblematic of how poor the OL played in front of Michel, though

    As for rookie RBs having an impact. Don't forget John Stephens putting up almost 1.200 yards as a rookie for the Pats in 1988.


    Back to linebackers topic, I thought the Pats did quite a bit of blitzing early on vs. the Lions, but did not get near the QB.
     
  13. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    Sorry, did not mean to sidetrack from the LB discussion. Happy to continue this in another thread and enjoy exchanging viewpoints.
     
  14. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member SoSH Member

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    With regards to the Michel pick, what we don't know is what the War Room thought regarding his potential upside impact. If the consensus was that his likely peak was to eventually be a "poor man's Dion Lewis", folks have the right to be upset at the pick, especially as the Pats could have easily had the real Dion Lewis in the fold for this season, thereby allowing the team to use the pick in other ways that would have allowed them to boost the D.

    If, OTOH, the Pats thought Michel could be a "transformational running back", or even a near-transformational player, then the use of that pick is more justifiable, even if Michel takes another season or two to get there.

    Doesn't help that their other first round pick and their one 2nd round pick that they used both got hurt with unpredictable injuries.

    EDIT: I'll add we currently have no idea where Michel will fall on the above spectrum, beyond the fact he is currently in the middle of the road as far as rookie RB's are going this season. He lost most of his first training camp, has been the only healthy RB (beyond James White), and has been victimized by very poor play by the OL.
     
    #14 lexrageorge, Sep 25, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
  15. dcmissle

    dcmissle Deflatigator Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    So they let the draft fall to them when they knew the defense was bad, esp at LB, and that no significant help would be coming to them via FA. Maybe a more aggressive approach is warranted when TB is about to turn 41.

    “Transformational” is admittedly arbitrary. But at that draft position, I’d prefer them to trade out of the pick unless they thought Michel can be extraordinary.
     
  16. RedOctober3829

    RedOctober3829 Member SoSH Member

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    As it turns out, a running back was and is a high need due to Burkhead's inability to stay on the field. James White is a great receiving back but not running between the tackles. I've said this before and I'll say it again: OL and RB were very high up on the need list along with LB and pass rusher at the draft. They picked the 2nd best OL in the draft with the first 1st. Sony Michel was a top-10 talent when he was healthy and was slotted to go late 1st/early 2nd round. He was picked in the range he was supposed to go in. It was not nearly the reach people think it was. He \has the ability to be a very good running back in this league. He's shown flashes of his ability when given the blocking. I can't stand people that are blaming Michel for some of the negative plays as they are the result of the line not doing it's job. This isn't directed at you, dc. You just happen to be the post I'm responding to.

    After the draft, they should have gone into free agency and upgraded the linebacker and defensive end positions. They did not. That is on Belichick.
     
  17. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    I don't think Belichick ever lets the draft come to him, to be honest. They made three trades and only one pick in the second round. The last time they had two firsts, they traded up with both of them. Probably no one makes more draft day trades than the Patriots. Belichick isn't at all shy about dealing a pick to move up a few spots. That he didn't tells me some combination of the price was too high and they weren't all that interested in the guys who went ahead.

    And even if you think he misfired not trading up, it still has nothing to do with Michel, because all the LB were gone before 23. It's taking Wynn instead of trading up from 23 you should question in that instance.

    And again - this whole mentality is backwards IMO when it comes to the draft. If you have immediate needs, FA and trade are way to go. Counting on the draft to fill present-day holes is a dangerous game.

    What does "at that draft position" mean? It's 31, all the prospects without flaws (if there is such a thing) are long gone.
     
  18. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    All of the LB weren't gone. Darius Leonard was there at #31 and the Pats had shown a certain level of interest in him pre-draft. He ultimately went #36 to Indy so taking him at #31 wouldn't have been a reach. I believe they spent extensive time with him at the Senior Bowl. Having Leonard on this team right now would be a godsend.

    I mean, this staff clearly likes Michel and believes him to be a 3 down workhorse type back. I certainly hope they're right.
     
  19. dcmissle

    dcmissle Deflatigator Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I mean running back, where you can get excellent players in the mid rounds, low rounds.

    If BB didn’t let that draft fall to him, he nonetheless chose not to address LB in a serious way. And if FA and trades are the way to go, he did not do that either.

    Any case, we’re left with a bunch of mastodons out there. So where are we in terms of a deep playoff push, and by that I mean another AFC championship game?
     
  20. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    Leonard's off to a nice start, but let's not pretend he didn't have warts coming out. People were all over the place on his tape (some loved it, some didn't care for it at all), he's a little undersized, his testing numbers weren't good (his agility drills were bad), and he had level of competition concerns. And he was the only true LB who went in the second, so if NE wasn't sold on him - and there were plenty of reasons not to be - there wasn't anyone else. And it still didn't preclude them from taking a LB like Fred Warner, Jerome Baker, Malik Jefferson, Oren Burks, etc., who all would have been available at 61, much less 43.

    You can disagree with the Michel pick, and you can disagree with not picking a LB. I just don't see any reason to relate the two.

    I don't really understand why RB gets painted with this brush and not a number of other positions. Yes, there are great RBs who come from later rounds - just as there are great players at every position. There are also a lot of great RB who were very high picks, just like at every position. And we are (mainly) talking about off-ball LB, not edge rusher or QB or LT; positional value is pretty similar to RB.
     
  21. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

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    To me the issue about RB is about long-term value more than anything. Running backs seem to have a shorter shelf life of excellence - there just aren't many historically that are good after 30, and yet you can often have players at other positions that are still excelling at that point.

    Moreover, the game has changed so that RBs just aren't quite as important as they used to be.

    So to put a big investment in a RB - whether draft capital or salary cap hit - seems like a questionable move. Unless, of course, the RB is an absolute game-changer. I think Michel is a fine RB and will grow into a very good one. I am glad he's on the team and I look forward to his development. But they made a significant investment of draft capital in him, when they've been able, in the past to get away with a much smaller expenditure of draft capital to get the necessary quality at the position they need to have an elite offense.

    That's a fancy way of saying: I like that they grabbed a quality RB, but I think they should have waited till later in the draft for that, and should have used that pick for the best player available that also happens to fit a HUGE need they have.
     
  22. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    30 is old at any non-QB/K/P position, but point taken. On the other hand, you could also argue this is reason to use more draft capital on RB, because the FA / trade market is largely going to be damaged goods. Most of the best RB are going to be guys on their rookie contracts, so it makes sense to add RB via the draft. I think Belichick is conscious of this, which is why he's used draft picks on RBs (Michel, White, Vereen, Ridley) and also specifically pursued vets who had been underutilized previously: Burkhead, Gillislee, Lewis, Blount to some degree.

    Are you talking about someone specific here?
     
  23. SMU_Sox

    SMU_Sox loves his fluffykins SoSH Member

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    Darius Leonard at 31 is my biggest problem with the analysis so far. I liked Leonard. I loved Fred Warner. LVE? First pass didn't think he was a 1st rounder. 2nd pass, yes. I am one of the champions of these off-ball smaller LBs. BB isn’t the biggest fan. But saying an off-ball LB like Darius and/or Warner at 31 over Sony? That’s too rich for me. Sony has the potential to be a Swiss Army knife (HT SuperDave) - can run or catch a pass and line up all over. It’s been 3 games. He has a lot of time left to improve.

    Real quick I know LVE is not a smaller off-ball guy. He’s huge and moves like a freak for his size. Warner and Leonard though are that type.
     
  24. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    Darius Leonard wasn’t the only option nor am I focused on him. I just included him as an example of an LB who was still around at Michel’s pick (since it was stated that all the LBs were gone) and who has played really well so far.

    Like everyone, I sincerely hope Michel becomes that elite RB that the staff feels he can be based on his impressive GA tape.
     
  25. SMU_Sox

    SMU_Sox loves his fluffykins SoSH Member

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    Fair. Look, I was mildly surprised we didn’t take Reid and/or Harrison. I think when trying to predict who they would draft I listed those guys as people I liked or thought they would take. I wanted an off-ball LB and/or a safety in the 2nd. Justin Reid’s fall was the most surprising to me. He had gotten some first round attention too. But like SuperNomario pointed out other teams also didn’t view these guys as highly as some of us thought. Same with Burks. This is another year where there are so many holes on the roster I hope they go BPA. Last years FA group was thin for coverage lb. Also Belichick has lately prefered to go big safety look versus a traditional coverage linebacker. Lots of factors here.
     
  26. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    In full disclosure, Harold Landry was my Michel pick binky since I’m a BC guy but can understand why he wasn’t selected.
     
  27. Marciano490

    Marciano490 Urological Expert SoSH Member

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    I don’t hate the Michel pick as an antidote to the WR problem. A good running game can mask and open up the passing game. I just thought Michel looked slow, weak and indecisive on Sunday, but hopefully that’s just the result of the injury.
     
  28. SMU_Sox

    SMU_Sox loves his fluffykins SoSH Member

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    I’m an idiot and can’t find my post from that time that night but I am 98% sure I called it as Landry or Lamar at 31. I was very high on both. Honestly this has just been a really frustrating start to the season and also frustrating because they’ve had so many bad draft classes.
     
  29. maufman

    maufman Anderson Cooper x Mr. Rogers Staff Member Dope Gold Supporter

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    Breaking this discussion out of the linebackers thread. A couple posts could’ve gone either way; hopefully I didn’t screw up too bad.
     
  30. Captaincoop

    Captaincoop Member SoSH Member

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    Going back a step, I would love to hear what Belichick's thought process was in trading Cooks for an extra first rounder.

    If he was down on the first round talent in the draft, why give up on pairing Cooks with Brady for one more year for an extra first round pick?

    Did he think Mitchell was healthy? That Britt was going to stick? Was there another WR that he thought he could bring in via FA that fell through?

    In hindsight, they created a huge need for 2018 with that trade.
     
  31. EL Jeffe

    EL Jeffe Member SoSH Member

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    Michel has a degenerative knee condition; he's not going to get better. He's only going to get worse. Whether it accelerates like Malcolm Mitchell or holds off like Jay Ajayi no one can say. Either way, that selection was just one in a series of head scratching moves.

    Draft as analytics are what they are; the Patriots would have been significantly better off taking a guy like Kerryon Johnson or Royce Freeman later in the draft. Not only from positional value, but they don't have shot knees.

    I'd like nothing more than Michel to succeed and give the offense an explosive shot in the arm. But at this point that feels a lot more like wish casting than reality.
     
  32. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    What makes you think Belichick was down on the first round talent in the draft?
     
  33. bigq

    bigq Member SoSH Member

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    And Michel has only played in two of those three games. Good discussion here however labeling Michel as a bust or a bad pick at this point is quite premature.
     
  34. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    Your points on Michel's health are fair, but can you expand on the bolded? I'm not a fan of taking a RB with like a top-10 pick, but I'm not aware of any study that shows it's a poor investment at the back end of the first round. I don't even know how you'd begin to craft such a study.
     
  35. maufman

    maufman Anderson Cooper x Mr. Rogers Staff Member Dope Gold Supporter

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    They used the pick acquired for Cooks to draft Wynn, and there’s likely a few complementary players on the roster who would’ve had to have been replaced by league-minimum guys if the Pats has chosen to pay Cooks.

    In hindsight, knowing about Wynn’s injury and Edelman’s suspension, you probably would’ve paid Cooks. But I don’t think it’s hard at all to understand BB’s reasoning at the time.
     
  36. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    I have zero issues with the Cooks trade. We just got absolutely screwed that our pick tore his freaking achilles. He was set to be a huge piece this year and it was a very bad break for us. At this point, I just hope he's able to return close to where he left off.

    As for Michel, his knees are another area of concern that I didn't touch on but which give me pause. The useful life of a RB is short enough and even if Michel starts playing like we all hope, how long can we reasonably expect him to maintain it given his knee issue? My fear here is that we get a couple good years from him before the knee issue flares up. We'll just have to wait and see there. Clearly, the medical staff blessed the draft pick so maybe it'll just be more about giving him maintenance rest.
     
  37. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    It's not complicated: "i'm not going to sign Cooks to a 5 year 80 million extension--he's good but he's not great-- so I might as well get value now"
     
  38. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    They may have let Cooks play out his last, but I can’t envision an alternative universe under any scenario where BB gives Cooks that contract.
     
  39. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Do you actually know any of this? I know the interwebs has a lot of doctors but they're all working on incomplete information. The rumor that he has some kind of bone on bone condition were leaked by Mike Lombardi, which makes it sound a hell of a lot like something BB told Lombardi to say.
     
  40. sodenj5

    sodenj5 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Well he absolutely tore his ACL in high school and then had a procedure done to the same knee before the start of the season. Those are facts. There’s no guarantee that he has a “bone on bone” condition, but the red flags surrounding his knee certainly aren’t made up and his procedure in the pre season would suggest that it isn’t improving.

    Also regarding Ajayi, who was mentioned previously, he was a second round talent that fell due to his knee concerns and Miami selected him in the fifth round. I think there’s a vast difference in selecting a talented yet potentially short-lived running back in the fifth round and the first round.

    Ajayi didn’t miss games due to his knee condition in Miami, however they did limit his practices throughout the season.
     
  41. IdiotKicker

    IdiotKicker Member SoSH Member

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    Other than James White in the fourth, I'm not sure this is true. In 2011, they used 2nd and 3rd round picks on Vereen and Ridley. Kevin Faulk was a mid-2nd round pick. Corey Dillon cost them a 2nd-round pick. I know this is a 1st-rounder and so people think it's dramatically different, but the second-to-last pick in the 1st round isn't that different in value from how they've typically brought in backs historically. It might be 10-15 picks higher, but we're not talking about a dramatic shift in strategy from where they've gone after RBs previously. This one just isn't working yet.
     
  42. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    Blowing an ACL is far different than a degenerative knee condition.
     
  43. sodenj5

    sodenj5 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    But if he damaged the cartilage in his knee while blowing out his knee, it isn’t.
     
  44. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member SoSH Member

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    If someone has a link supporting the comment that Michel has a degenerative knee condition or is "bone-on-bone", please provide it, because I cannot find it. Brady had a torn ACL, and required some additional procedures afterwards due to infection; the same could be true here.
     
  45. sodenj5

    sodenj5 Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The only people that know for sure are the teams that got to review Michel’s medical records before the draft. You aren’t going to find an MRI of Sony Michel’s knee floating around the Internet.

    This link does a good job of illustrating what is known about Michel and drawing the conclusion that it’s likely he has a degenerative condition stemming from his original ACL injury back in high school.

    https://theinjuryinsight.com/sony-michel-knee-surgery-concerns/
     
  46. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    And to Shelter’s point, even bringing that up is pure speculation. It’s never reported to be the case and it’s kind of foolish to think they’d have taken him that high if it were.
     
  47. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member SoSH Member

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    That is a helpful link. But I'll add that Lombardi is not necessarily medically knowledgeable, and so I would take his "bone-on-bone" comment with a grain of salt in this day and age of click generation.
     
  48. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

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    Well, no matter what you think of the pick, it’s officially Sony’s time with Hill and Burkhead out of the way. Going to get all the early down work and some passing downs for as long as he can stay healthy.

    Let’s go, Sony!
     
  49. DeadlySplitter

    DeadlySplitter Member SoSH Member

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    I think the draft strategy was to reload on offense because that was more likely to be elite than fixing the defense right now, and just win a bunch of shootouts. but now ACL injures to Hill and Wynn have really hurt the unit, making "bide time until Edelman is back" be ineffective.

    thing is, this strategy seems to always eventually fail by the Super Bowl (last year, 2011). all I know is BB is a stubborn m'fer
     
  50. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member SoSH Member

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    The Pats drafted the following defensive players:

    Duke Dawson: IR. Eligible to return Week 9, but unclear if he will.
    Ja'Whaun Bentley: IR. Earliest he can return is Week 12, which seems unlikely.
    Christian Sam: Season ending IR.
    Keion Crossen: 7th round DB, inactive first 2 weeks.

    This was a year after drafting Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers. Cyrus Jones was taken as their top pick the year before that.

    They've also added Lawrence Guy (UFA), Adrian Clayborn (UFA), Danny Shelton (traded 3rd round pick), and Jason McCourty (UFA). They've invested the capital; just that most of their investments turned into tulip bulbs.
     
    #50 lexrageorge, Sep 26, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018

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