New England Patriots Draft Needs: Running Back

Over the next few days I will be considering the biggest draft day needs for the New England Patriots and assessing what players could possibly get drafted to address those needs.  Today’s entry will focus on running back.  The previous entries can be seen here:

Defensive Line:

Outside Linebacker:

Wide Receiver:

Offensive Line:

Contrary to what many so-called “experts” have been saying, I don’t see running back as a top priority in the 2011 NFL Draft.  That being said, if a guy like Mark Ingram is still available when the Pats select at 28 or 33, I’m sure that he will be considered, but spending that kind of money on a rookie when you already have a 1,000 yard back on your team doesn’t make much sense to me.  I’m sure that once Mel Kiper and Todd McShay log onto NTCF and read this, they’ll change their stance to conform with what I’m saying, but until then I’m the guy you want to listen to (or in this case read).  Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Fred Taylor are all free agents, so the only two running backs left on the roster are BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead (Eric Kettani is on the reserve/military list).  In the 2011 draft, I believe that the Pats will be looking running back in the 3rd round and later, so I’m going to focus on players that should be available around then. Here’s a look at a few guys that could be new additions to the Patriots come 2011:

Name: Shane Vereen

Position: RB

School: California

Year: Junior

Size: 5’10”, 205 lbs

Projected Round: 3rd

Analysis: Apparently a big knock on Vereen is his size…Last time I checked, guys like Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice are pretty good players.  Vereen displays good quickness and decent speed.  At 5’10”, he can lower his pad level to get under defenders and drive for extra yardage.  Vereen has a huge lower body, which helps him move piles and run over undersized defenders.  Could use to add 10-15 lbs of bulk to aid his running between the tackles.  Amassed 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior at Cal in 2010.  Is a good blocker out of the backfield, and his hands are good enough where he can be used on third down on the next level.  Durable runner that isn’t afraid to attack the line of scrimmage.  Watched Vereen participate in some skills competition on ESPN about a week ago and I loved his personality and competitiveness.

Name: Jordan Todman

Position: RB

School: UConn

Year: Junior

Size: 5’9”, 195 lbs

Projected Round: 3rd

Analysis: Todman gained 1,695 yards and scored 14 times for the Huskies in 2010.  Todman allegedly has decent speed in the 40 (4.45 range), but has vision to make up for his lack of straight line speed.  There is no quantitative measure of how effectively running backs can see holes, but Todman’s 1,695 yards proves that he knows what to do with the ball after receiving the handoff.  Todman has quick feet and moves well laterally.  195 lbs isn’t that big in today’s NFL, so in order to withstand the rigors of carrying the ball 20-25 times a game, Todman will need to add some muscle bulk.  Not the best hands, but Todman would be a great change-of-pace back immediately in the NFL.

Name: Delone Carter

Position: RB

School: Syracuse

Year: Senior

Size: 5’10”, 220 lbs

Projected Round: 3-4

Analysis: Delone Carter is a man.  This dude is huge.  His build reminds me of Thomas Jones, who is also a man.  Carter isn’t the fastest running back in the draft, but he is a bruiser.  He has the speed to grab 20 yards, but not game breaking speed like a Demarco Murray type.  Carter is a decent blocker out of the backfield, but only caught 8 passes in 2010 which has me questioning his hands.  Named MVP of the East-West Shrine game as well as MVP of Syracuse’s bowl game against Kansas State (27 rushes, 198 yards, 2 touchdowns).

Name: John Clay

Position: RB

School: Wisconsin

Year: Junior

Size: 6’1”, 250 lbs

Projected Round: 5th

Analysis: Clay made a mature decision when declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft as a junior.  As of Janaury 4th, Clay turned 23 years old.  Realizing that the shelf life of NFL running backs is short, Clay made the decision to avoid trying to be a 24 year old rookie running back and make it to the league in 2011.  At 255 lbs, Clay averaged a surprising 5.4 yards per carry in 2010, gaining a total of 1012 yards and 14 touchdown on just 187 attempts.  Clay rushed for over 3,400 yards and 41 touchdowns in his three year college career.  Clay is more nimble than one would expect for a guy his size.  At 6’1”, his strides are long enough and he has enough speed to break off some big runs.  Expected to run around a 4.6 40, but getting that up to a 4.5 could vastly improve his draft stock.  Clay needs to work on lowering his pad level in order to stop taking so many shots to the thighs and knees.  Isn’t as much of a bruiser as would be expected, but breaks a ton of tackles.

Name: Noel Devine

Position: RB

School: West Virginia

Year: Senior

Size: 5’8”, 180 lbs

Projected Round: 5-6

Analysis: Guess what the biggest knock on Noel Devine is…yup, his size.  Guess what separates Devine from nearly every other back in the 2011 NFL draft…yup, his speed.  Devine is a game changer simply because he will run a blazing 40, somewhere in the 4.35 range.  Devine had a down year in 2010, rushing for only 936 yards and 6 touchdowns, but he also caught 34 passes for 258 yards.  Devine isn’t great between the tackles, but is a nightmare to keep an eye on for defenders because of his size.  His pass protection is lacking, but once he breaks a run outside the tackles, he is likely to make the defense pay.  Devine is very shifty and elusive, but his small frame makes him more susceptible to injury.  Simply from a size and skill stand point, Devine reminds me of a cross between Darren Sproles and Brian Westbrook (may be a bit bold, but accept it).  I would love to see Devine work in the slot.

One Response

  1. […] just any body with their head down there.  Chances are he would have went in for a […] BrickNew England Patriots Draft Needs: Running Back February 21, 2011Over the next few days I will be considering the biggest draft day needs for the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: