NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
There have been some rumors swirling around this afternoon that the Patriots will be looking to add a running back with one of their picks today if they right guy is there. With those rumors going around I take a look at which running backs the Patriots could actually target in round two and how they fit with the Patriots.
With only two picks remaining, both in the second round, as of right now the Patriots may opt to add another running back to compliment Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead. If the Patriots do take a running back they may target one who can add some kick return ability or they may target an every down type runner.
These are the top remaining running backs and and a few more who have a shot to be drafted on day two:
1. Lamar Miller, Miami (FL) 5’10” 212 lbs.
Miller is the most explosive running back in the draft. He has drawn comparisons to Chris Johnson for the way he can get through the hole and explode by second level defenders. The questions with Miller are his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and his pass protection skills. The Broncos and Rams are said to really like Miller and there is a good possibility he is off the board before the Patriots selection at #48.
2. LaMichael James, Oregon 5’8″ 194 lbs.
James would be an exciting player to add to the Patriots offense. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands and is deadly in space. He can catch the ball and was used on a number of screens, swing passes and gadget plays at Oregon. James also has some punt return abilities and while he wasn’t asked to do it in college he could definitely profile to a kick returner in the NFL. If the Patriots truly want LaMichael James they Patriots could opt to trade down and pick up a few day three selections before picking James.
3. Bernard Pierce, Temple 5’11” 218 lbs.
Pierce has prototypical NFL size and runs with nice balance and has good vision. Pierce was incredibly productive at Temple and was a true work horse back. Pierce was coached this past season by Steve Addazio who was Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida, so there is a connection to the Patriots. Pierce profiles to a 1st and 2nd round back in the NFL and could be one of the few backs capable of playing on every down.
4. Chris Polk, Washington 5’10” 215 lbs.
There was some pretty strong buzz going around day one that the Patriots had highly valued Boise State RB Doug Martin. While Polk is not as good as Martin he is a similar type back. Polk doesn’t have any glaring holes in his game as he can catch the ball pretty well out of the backfield, has some smoothness in his running style and can take contact. While I haven’t been as high on Polk as others throughout the scouting process I do think Polk is someone to watch at pick #62 or the early third round.
5. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati 5’10” 197 lbs.
Pead might be the most likely running back selection by the Patriots. Pead was a four year player at Cincinnati and was their work horse. He catches the ball very well out of the backfield and has some shiftiness to his running style. Pead doesn’t dance much behind the line, instead he utilizes a one cut and go type running style. When I watch Pead I see a similar type back to Shane Vereen from last year. Maybe the Patriots are looking for something a little different from Vereen, or maybe they would like a similar back. I think Pead at the very least would make a good 3rd down running back in the NFL. At the Senior Bowl, Pead showcased his ability to return punts and kicks, which is something he didn’t so a lot of at Cincinnati. With the Patriots in need of kick returners Pead would be able to fill multiple rolls. Pead has had a private workout with the Patriots and the team had scouts at the Cincinnati pro day.
* Wildcard* Chris Rainey, Florida 5’8″ 180 lbs.
Chris Rainey is not a true RB, but what he is, is a gadget back who can do a lot of things for an offense. Rainey is one of the best kick returners in the draft. He has track type speed in football pads and can flat out make plays with the ball in his hands. He can also split-out wide and play receiver which could also make him attractive to the team. Rainey played a similar role to what Percy Harvin did at Florida and New England really liked Harvin coming out of college. If the Patriots want Rainey, it’s likely they would pick him with a pick they acquire in a trade down, because I can’t see Rainey going before the late third round. Like Pead, Rainey has had a private workout for the Patriots.
Others to keep an eye on tonight:
– Robert Turbin, Utah State 5’9″ 222 – Big powerful back, who exhibited very good speed at the combine.
– Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M 5’10” 206 – Gray is a good all around back, loves to get to the edge and turn it up field.
If the Patriots are targeting a running back tonight, I think it is extremely likely they move down and accumulate picks before selecting one. Assuming all the players mentioned above are on the board when the Patriots select, the only one who is really worth a 2nd round pick in my opinion is Lamar Miller. The rest of the guys can be hard at various points in the 3rd round or later.
Which running back would you perfer?