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Welcome To New England, Malcolm Mitchell

Today we discuss wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, the Patriots fourth round pick out of Georgia. Mitchell dealt with some injuries that pushed him down the draft board, but his talent is first round-level.

With the 112th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia:

Malcolm Mitchell, 22, is from Valdosta, Georgia, and he attended Valdosta High School, playing for coach Rance Gillespie. He was a dominant high school player, picking up accolades from everywhere. His senior year (2010), he made 77 catches (school record) for 1,419 yards and seven touchdowns. He was an Under Armour All-American, Superprep All-American, and Prepstar All-American.

Mitchell was named Class 5A All-State at wide receiver, and was also named to the 2010 Georgia Sports Writers Association All-State team. Mitchell was ranked no. 6 on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 50, and ranked him as a four star prospect, no. 7 cornerback overall, and the 90th ranked overall prospect in the country in 2010. Mitchell had his fair share of suitors coming out of high school as he was recruited by Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Mitchell didn't waste any time making his presence known at Georgia, starting nine of 11 games (he missed three to injury). As the Georgia Bulldogs "Newcomer of the Year" award winner, Mitchell picked up 45 receptions for 665 yards and four touchdowns. Mitchell had two of his best games vs. ranked opponents, picking up 85 receiving yards and a touchdown against No. 24 Auburn, and then making seven catches for 51 yards and a two point conversion vs. No. 12 Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Mitchell was named All-Freshman Third Team by Phil Steele, Freshman All-SEC (Coaches Vote), and All-SEC Third Team by Phil Steele. 

Mitchell played in 13 of 14 games (once again missed a game to injury, his 4th in two seasons), starting nine, and he continued to be one of the best offensive performers on the team. He was named to the SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC Third Team. Mitchell's overall numbers dropped on offense (40 catches, 572 yards, four touchdowns) but he returned 16 kickoffs for 360 yards, and he also got to play some defense for the Bulldogs. Mitchell won the award Bill Belichick must love- the Charley Trippi Most Versatile Player Award, a testament to Mitchell's ability to do many things well.  

2013 was a completely lost season for Mitchell as he tore his ACL in the first quarter of the season opener vs. Clemson. Mitchell was able to gain an extra year of eligibility due to a medical waiver, which ended up being a huge positive for his career. In 2014, Mitchell returned after the ACL injury, but like with most players, his explosiveness hadn't come back yet. He played in nine games, starting three, and had 31 receptions, 248 yards, and three touchdowns. Mitchell was on virtually all the pre-season watch lists, but he simply wasn't ready yet. 

That changed in 2015.

Mitchell returned to the player he was in 2011 and 2012, making 58 catches for 865 yards and five touchdowns. He started all 13 games, and he was also named offensive team captain. Mitchell also earned accolades for the great things he does off the field as well; he won the David Jacobs Award, an award given to the athlete who showed the most character and best attitude. He was recognized by many different organizations that work within the community, but the honor that stood out the most was being named the team captain of the 2015 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. One of Mitchell's best games of his senior year came in his final outing as a Bulldog- five catches, 115 yards, and a 44-yard touchdown catch vs. Penn State in the Taxslayer Bowl. 

Mitchell brings a skill-set to the Patriots wide receiver core that they don't currently possess, and his body type is unlike most of their top receivers too. At 6'1, 195 pounds and 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash, Mitchell has down-the-field ability along with strong route running skills, so he's more well-rounded than the collection of slot receivers the Patriots always seem to have on their roster.

The Patriots have been known to cut draft picks, especially when they have a ton of depth at the position, but there is no way Mitchell is getting cut before Aaron Dobson, Keyshawn Martin, or any other receiver not named Julian Edelman. For the first time in over a decade, it appears that New England has hit on a pure wide receiver, similar to when they drafted David Givens and Deion Branch, and if Mitchell provides the production New England coaches expect, he'll add another layer to an offense that can beat teams in many different ways.

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