NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The 2014 NFL Draft ended almost three months, but on Monday the Patriots added another 6th Round pick to their draft class by claiming RB Tyler Gaffney off waivers from Carolina. Panthers GM Dave Gettleman tried to sneak the injured running back through waivers after tearing his lateral meniscus in practice; Bill Belichick had other thoughts.
Who is Tyler Gaffney and what can he bring to the Patriots when healthy?
Tyler Gaffney is a two sport star who returned to Stanford in 2013 after two years playing minor league baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. Gaffney went on to have one of the best rushing seasons in the country and dramatically improved his NFL Draft stock. During the draft process Gaffney earned praise for his impressive character and terrific workouts. At the NFL Combine Gaffney was one of the top finishers in the 3-Cone drill posting a 6.78 and ran a sub-4.50 forty yard dash.
The Patriots obviously had some interest in acquiring Gaffney during the draft, but he was selected two spots ahead of their final 6th round selection #206. The Panthers snagged the Stanford RB at pick #204 and the Patriots went on to select Georgia Tech DB Jemea Thomas. With no Running Backs under contract after the 2014 season the Patriots assume little risk in adding Gaffney’s contract. The Patriots must keep Gaffney on the 90-man roster until the rosters are cut down at which time they can place him on injured reserve. Gaffney compliment’s 4th round RB James White nicely, in that he’s a more straight ahead, downhill, power runner. If Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley aren’t retained after this season, the Patriots would have some viable replacements at both spots.
Many people will compare the waiver claim to that of Jake Ballard in 2012 and logisitcally that is true. The Gaffney maneuver has much more upside for a number of reasons. Gaffney is coming off an injury that is much less significant than Ballard’s microfracture surgery and he shouldn’t have nearly as long of a recovery period. Add that to the fact the Patriots are thin at the position in future years and it’s a shrewd more.
Here is my complete and comprehensive scouting report on Tyler Gaffney from 2014 NFL Draft Guide.
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