Earlier today I singled out the New England Patriots as one of the NFL teams notorious for finding bargains on the final day of the NFL draft. Well, I believe there is a very good chance that they have done it once again by selecting Malcolm Mitchell with the 112th pick a few moments ago.
Let's be clear: Mitchell is a bit of a gamble. His Georgia career was hampered by injuries throughout, occasional position changes early on, and finally by mediocre quarterback play and play calling. But Mitchell's senior season, despite its challenges, showed exactly how good he can be. The former five-star recruit from Valdosta finished the year with 58 catches for 865 yards and five touchdowns. He did so despite the lack of a true second option in the bulldog receiving corps, a tight end rotation that was MIA for the entire year, and a play caller who (and I'm not going to sugarcoat this) could be bested by the John Madden suggestions in a video game.
But I think teams really changed their minds about Mitchell based on the fact that he started all 13 games, redeeming himself from his earlier injury-plagued seasons. And perhaps more than that he showed live and in living color what he could do at the NFL combine. The 6'1, 195 pound former cornerback ran a 4.45 forty and seemed to catch everything close to him. While Mitchell does not have the imposing frame many teams look for in an NFL wide receiver her, and his speed is very good rather then superhuman, I don't think the Patriots brass care. This pick fits into their modus operandi of taking college players with the potential to outplay their accolades.
If Mitchell stays healthy and plays significant snaps in New England he will be looked at as a steel in the fourth round. If he cannot stay healthy he won't make the roster and the Patriots will not have gambled very much. It's a set up similar to the saying often attributed to value stock investor Mohnish Pobrai: "heads I win, tails I don't lose much."