WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

–New England’s top two picks – offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel – weren’t just teammates at the Georgia, but also roommates. The newest Patriots may not live together as professionals, but they plan on staying close as they take the next step in their careers.

“If not roommates, then we’ll be neighbors,” Wynn said.

“Definitely neighbors. He can’t run from me,” Michel joked of the big tackle who helped him rush for more than 1,200 yards and a 7.9-yard average last fall in SEC action.

Wynn admitted it’s pretty cool for the duo to continue to move along together in football, having known each other since their days as high school stars in the state of Florida.

“It’s great just to continue on this new journey, open this new chapter, of our lives,” Wynn said. “We started off together. I’ve known him since high school rooming with him at a Rivals camp. Just to get here and open this new chapter, I mean, it’s unbelievable.”

Wynn also revealed that as much as Michel leans on him to block defenders on the field, the playmaking running back and fellow former Bulldogs captain needs his lineman just as much off the field.

“Sony doesn’t like to cook, so a lot of times it used to always be on me, but I think I got tired of it so we just settled on going out to eat, eating that way. But he’s not a cook. He doesn’t like to cook. He relies on me for it,” Wynn joked.

–While the Patriots traded down or out often throughout this year’s draft, annoying some of the team’s fans by passing on the option to add players to the roster of the defending AFC champions, it’s worth noting that New England’s two top picks from last spring – third-round defensive end Derek Rivers and third-round tackle Antonio Garcia – will be added to the mix of youth after missing their rookie seasons to injury.

Rivers tore his ACL in training camp and will be expected to have at least a rotational role on the edge of the defense in 2018. Garcia missed his first season after suffering blood clots in his lungs, but now could be in the competitive mix as New England looks to replace free-agent left tackle departure Nate Solder.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said that while the players missed the games and practices of their rookie seasons, it wasn’t a total loss.

“They lost a year, but they didn’t lose a year because of other aspects of the program that they’ve been immersed in,” Caserio said. “So, not necessarily on the field in terms of their football development, but there’s other areas – classroom development, individual development, strength development. In the case of players like (Derek) Rivers, once he gets to a certain point, then he can start his strength training so he can start to recuperate his strength, his speed, his explosiveness. He can’t necessarily do things football related on the field in terms of practice, but there’s some other things that you can do. So, it’s not necessarily a lost year, but that’s a player that he’s essentially starting over to some degree.

“Look, it’s up to them to take advantage of the opportunity. They can use their time wisely, and some take advantage of that, others don’t. I mean, they’re rookies, but they’re not rookies because they’re a little bit more experienced. But, they haven’t been able to develop their skills on the field, so they’re essentially like some of these guys who haven’t really developed their skills in our program.”

–It might seem notable that head coach Bill Belichick took two players from the same school when he tabbed Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel in the first round. But it was actually the 13th time in Belichick’s 19 drafts in New England that the Patriots have taken at least two players from the same school in the same draft. It was even the sixth time in those 19 drafts that the Patriots have taken college teammates with consecutive draft selections, the fifth time those picks came in the same round.

–Cornerback Duke Dawson, New England’s second-round pick out of Florida, fills a need as a possible slot cornerback with the defending AFC champs. Though Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe and offseason trade addition Jason McCourty seem relatively entrenched atop the depth chart, Dawson should compete immediately for reps in the slot, where both Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones are coming off injuries.

Dawson plays a feisty style, which would also describe one of the guys he’ll be trying to replace – former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler who left to join the Titans as a free agent this offseason.

“I’ve always been a competitor since Day 1,” Dawson said. “The Patriots, I feel like they utilize their corners in the best way that they can to see the player’s skill set. Malcolm Butler was a great player. (He) came in undrafted. I mean he just came in and worked his butt off and got the respect. I mean he’s one of the top corners in the league in my opinion.

“I’m a very humble guy. I just come in and do what is said. I’ve never been a guy that came in conceited, cocky. I’ve just always been humble and mellow. I’m just a laid-back guy. When it’s time to turn up and do the things that I like to do, that’s when things start to get even better for me. I just like to come in and help in any way that I could. It really don’t matter where I get put. I just want to come in and help this team in any way I can.

 

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