Can Sony Michel Become Patriots' Most Productive Rookie Running Back Of Bill Belichick Era?

It’s fair to temper expectations when it comes to Sony Michel.

It’s also fair to wonder whether the Georgia Bulldog can turn in the most productive rookie season any running back has had with the New England Patriots since 2000.

That possibility entered the realm on the night of April 26, at pick No. 31 overall.

“Our thing is to pick good football players that have good traits,” New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio said of the Michel selection during his post-draft press conference. “However they get here, they get here. Everybody gets the same opportunity when they get here, so regardless of where they’re picked. We liked the player, so we went ahead and picked him.”

The Patriots liked Michel enough to make him only the second first-round back taken by the war room since Bill Belichick returned to it as head coach. The first was Minnesota’s Laurence Maroney, who in 2006, compiled the most carries, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards for a Patriots running back in his true-rookie campaign under Belichick.

Maroney’s rookie numbers weren’t as prolific as the likes of those to come through in the 1990s. Even so, the Golden Gopher’s numbers still stand mostly unrivaled by the backs since then.

As archived by Pro Football Reference, Maroney’s 175 carries in his first year rank ahead of the 125 logged by Arizona State’s J.R. Redmond in 2000 and the 87 by LSU’s Stevan Ridley in 2011. His 745 rushing yards rank ahead of Ridley’s 441 and Redmond’s 406.

And as for Maroney’s six rushing touchdowns? Ole Miss undrafted free agent BenJarvus Green-Ellis came closest with five in 2008, while no other rookie has registered more than two.

Talent-wise, Michel should have as good a chance as any predecessor had to eclipse those ground benchmarks.

Maroney was great his rookie year before he fizzled out. I doubt Michel tops that performance but he could absolutely top Maroney’s career numbers.

Shocked me that Belichick took a RB in the 1st round this year.

They said Alvin Kamara. I want Alvin Kamara.

Yes, my expectation are unreasonable.

Sue me.

no Ingram in the Pats backfield to offset his Kamara means he will be productive but may not be that productive.