NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
What the heck happened? One day the college football season is just beginning and then all of a sudden we are to championship weekend. My Cyclones have fired their coach and hired a new already and our beloved Patriots lost their first game of the season, but thankfully the team still has a chance at bigger and better things when the Gronk injury came back not as bad as originally thought.
I am back now, hopefully on a more regular basis (just have to get through one more weekend of work) and today I want to look at the Running Back position because frankly, I don’t think the Patriots backfield is very good. I have never been a fan of Blount’s and it has nothing to do with his off field issues. To me, he is a larger version of Laurence Maroney. He dances too much. For a guy that big he should be putting his head down and running over defenders rather than trying to run around him. I thought I was down on James White when the Patriots picked him, but apparently the Patriots organization dislikes him even more than me. Dion Lewis looked like a special player in the making, but he is and has had issues with injuries and time will tell if he can get back to the electric player he was to start this year and if he can stay healthy for an entire season. In the past, the Patriots have liked to double up at positions in the draft and even did it a few years back at the Running Back position when they took Shane Vereen and Steven Ridley. We could see a repeat of that this year and so I decided to take a look at Kenneth Dixon to see if he could be a fit in the Patriots backfield.
Name: Kenneth Dixon
School: Louisiana Tech (Sr.)
Weight: 212 Lbs.
Dixon has been a workhorse for LaTech his entire career. He runs with conviction and will fight for every yard. Dixon shows good patients, allowing holes to develop and then accelerating through. He also shows good vision and is able to see cutback lanes. Dixon has excellent lateral agility and quickness. He is able to stop and start quickly without losing much speed. He also shows good balance. Dixon can get skinny to get through the hole and he becomes an even more effective runner in open space. He can make defenders miss with his shiftiness but will also lower his shoulder and take on defenders. Dixon has excellent hands as a pass catcher and could be a real threat in the passing game. He is also a willing blocker when it comes to blitz pickup.
Dixon is probably not built to be the bell cow runner in an NFL teams offense. He is not a push the pile and grind out yards type of runner. Dixon has good but not great speed for the NFL. I noticed in games that he struggled in, he danced a little too much in the backfield and was looking to make that jump cut too often when he could have just taken the yards that were there for the taking. He is a willing blocker but like most backs coming into the NFL, his technique needs work to be relied on consistently on third down plays. He plays with a lot of emotion and that can get him in trouble, including an ejection earlier this year because of 2 unsportsmanlike penalties.
To me, Dixon has a lot of the same characteristics that Shane Vereen did coming out of college. Vereen was more explosive, but Dixon runs with more strength between the Tackles. Like I said above, I don’t think he is a 20 carry a game type of runner, but in a pinch he could carry the load and have some success. I really like his hands and I think he could be used as a weapon out of the backfield or even lined up out wide to create mismatches. He shows a willingness to block, which is good, but he is not always good at it. The effort is there so it can be fixed. Dixon can have success in the NFL if a team designs plays to get him out into space where he can use his elusiveness to his advantage. Because of the position he plays and the fact that I think he is more suited to be a third down back, he will probably be a borderline top 100 pick for me when all is said and done.