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Draft analysis: Focus on offense a surprise

The Patriots took a pair of offensive players with questions instead of adding to a sagging defense in the first round.

A night that began with all sorts of possibilities ultimately ended with the Patriots turning down the prizes behind any and all doors. Rather than bundling picks to trade up for a quarterback or moving out to stockpile selections later on, Bill Belichick sat tight and took his turns in his regularly scheduled spots.

The Patriots used the 23rd pick to select Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, then stuck with the Bulldogs and tabbed running back Sony Michel at 31.

In terms of talent the Patriots grabbed two solid football players who could help in the near future. As for need, an argument could be made that neither filled any imminent holes for New England.

Wynn was the more curious of the two selections, having spent the bulk of his Georgia career playing guard before moving to left tackle last year as senior. He performed well there in the tough SEC, and at 6-2 and change many draftniks project him as a guard in the NFL and have doubts whether he can successfully play on the outside.


To further add to the uncertainty, Wynn underwent surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder after the Senior Bowl and will be limited in the offseason. He told reporters he planned to be ready for mini-camp in June but even if that turns out to be true he still will miss valuable on-field development time.

If Wynn can play tackle – and there are plenty of folks who believe he can – the pick makes a lot more sense. Kirby Smart, his coach at Georgia, believes in Wynn's ability regardless of position.

"The book says he can't play it, but people do it all the time," Smart said last season. "He's a leader on our team and he's got a chip on his shoulder that he wants to prove it, prove everybody wrong.

"I enjoy watching him compete out there because it's not like he doesn't have to block length on our team. When it comes to Lorenzo [Carter] and Davin [Bellamy], he does have to block some length. I've been very pleased with what he's done so far. He's been the one kind of guy who's been rock solid. He comes to work every day."

With Nate Solder gone to the Giants via free agency the Patriots are lacking a bonafide option at left tackle. LaAdrian Waddle re-signed after filling in for Marcus Cannon on the right side last season, and he would likely qualify as the top in-house candidate to take Solder's place in 2018. Tony Garcia, last year's third-round pick, also will be in the mix after missing his rookie season due to a blood clot issue but he's a huge unknown. So there's an opportunity for Wynn to enter the mix if he proves capable of playing tackle.

If not, he would likely provide insurance at guard behind Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. The latter is entering the final year of his contract and could be in line for a huge pay day if he reaches free agency, so Wynn allows the Patriots to stay disciplined if the dollars get too big.

The problem is the 23rd pick seems steep for a player who doesn't have a sure-fire position, especially for a team in need of young defensive help.

The Michel pick doesn't come without questions either. He is a dynamic back with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, as his 64 career catches indicates. He was part of a one-two punch with Nick Chubb that led the Georgia offense and carried the Bulldogs to the national championship game.

Michel has drawn comparisons to New Orleans' Alvin Kamara, who took the league by storm with his multi-purpose skills as a rookie last season. But he also has a knee injury that was a significant red flag for some teams, and with James White, Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee already in the fold to say he doesn't fill an urgent need would be an understatement.

Michel's talent is unquestioned, and if his knee checks out the backfield will have a different element.

But that doesn't mean the picks made sense. While they could both pan out, they would do so for an offense that is already among the best in the league. Meanwhile the defense will have to wait until Friday at the earliest to add some talent, with the likes Rasheem Green, Sam Hubbard, Lorenzo Carter, Harold Landry and Josh Jackson all available.

After watching his team allow 41 points in the Super Bowl, adding to the offense didn't seem like Belichick's wisest course of action. Adding two players with significant questions only added to that curiosity.

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