Building The Big Board: Running backs and Full backs

It seems like the Patriots will look for their feature back in the draft, but who fits what the team is looking for?

It seems like the Patriots will look for their feature back in the draft, but who fits what the team is looking for?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

In the third installment of my Building the Big Board series, I focus on what might be the Patriots biggest need.  We all saw last year what can happen when a team becomes one dimensional, and it is not good. With Tom Brady getting older, the Patriots need to develop a running game to take some of the burden off of Brady’s shoulders, both literally and figuratively. The Running Back position has been devalued league wide over the years, so it will be interesting to see when the Patriots decide to pull the trigger on a Running Back. This class does have some potential and I think there are some guys who fit well into the Patriots scheme. As I stated in my previous post, I am trying to adhere to the idea of keeping my draft board similar in size to the Patriots, which is roughly around 75 players. This made for some tough decisions on who would make the board and who would be left off. Here is who made the cut.

POSITION: Running Back/Full Back

PRIORITY: High

CURRENT ROSTER:

Brandon Bolden (age 26, signed through 2016)

Dion Lewis (age 25, signed through 2017)

Donald Brown (age 28, signed through 2016)

James White (age 24, signed through 2017)

Tyler Gaffney (age 24, signed through 2017)

Joey Iosefa (age 24, signed through 2016)

Full Back:

James Develin (age 27, signed through 2016)

POSITION OVERVIEW:

Although there are a lot of names on the roster right now, this position needs an overhaul similar to when the Patriots drafted Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen in the same year. In my opinion, there are only two names that are safe to make this roster-Brandon Bolden and Dion Lewis. Bolden has more special teams value, but can be an effective runner in a pinch. Dion Lewis was electric in his first year with the Patriots, but a major injury cut his year short and there is no guarantee he will be the same player he was pre-injury. Donald Brown was a first round pick that has never lived up to that billing and comes in on a prove it, one year deal. The remaining Running Backs on the team are unproven and will be fighting for a roster spot unless they break out in camp. In my scouting I refer to the backs as either Feature Backs or Complimentary Backs. Feature Backs (FB)are the guys who are your traditional 3 down back who is relied on to carry the ball 20 or more times a game. Complimentary Backs (CB), or change of pace backs, are just that, the guys who won’t be asked to carry the ball a lot, but can come in and run on occasion or be a threat as a pass catcher. Right now, the Patriots lack a true Feature Back that can be counted on. They do have a stable of Complimentary Backs, but outside Lewis, any one of them could be upgraded. As for Full Back, I am not looking for the Patriots to draft a traditional blocking Full Back, but there are a couple of guys who could play a couple of different roles that earned draftable grades.

Running Backs with a draftable grade:

(FB) Jonathan Williams- Arkansas (5’10”, 220 Lbs.): Williams has the ideal size and build to be a Feature Back in the NFL. What I like most about his game is how he maintains his momentum when making cuts. He never seems to have to gear down when moving laterally and continues him momentum forward at all times. Williams runs with good leg drive and will fight for every yard. He does not hesitate to hit the hole and rarely has negative runs. He shows good vision and anticipation, waiting for the play to develop and then bursting through. Williams was not heavily used in the pass game, but looked natural in his routes and with his hands.  He also shows good effort as a blocker, initiating contact rather than allowing defenders into him. He did miss the entire 2015 season with a foot injury and medical will be a huge factor in where he gets drafted. Williams can also get into the bad habit of trying to bounce runs outside too often. He lacks the elite speed for this to be effective at the next level. Williams also had 6 fumbles in his career and ball security will have to be better. (2nd round grade)

(FB) Kenneth Dixon-Louisiana Tech (5’10”, 215 Lbs.): I wrote up Dixon earlier this year, but I had a chance to go back and watch him some more. In my first report, I don’t think I gave him enough credit to be a workhorse in the NFL. While I think he has maxed out his frame, I think he is big enough to handle the workload. He is smart, intense, and passionate about football and it shows up on the field. He can stay on the field all three downs because he is a natural catching the ball and is a good pass protector. (2nd/3rd round grade). For a more in depth report, here is the link to my report on Dixon I did earlier this season-http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/12/scouting-report-kenneth-dixon-rb-louisiana-tech.html

(FB) Alex Collins- Arkansas (5’10”, 217 Lbs.): As a runner, I actually like Collins better than Dixon, but there are some things that he has to improve on to be relied on as a Feature Back in the NFL. Ball security is the biggest issue. 16 career fumbles is alarming and this has to be fixed immediately. He also needs to work on his pass protection and his receiving skills if he wants to stay on the field for 3rd down. (3rd round grade) If you want to read my in depth report on Collins, click on the link: http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/12/scouting-report-alex-collins-rb.html

(FB) Jordan Howard- Indiana (5’11”, 230 Lbs.): Yet another player I covered with a more in depth report. Howard is not a flashy runner with quick twitch movements, but he is a no nonsense runner that lowers his pads and gets every yard given. He has above average footwork and vision to anticipate the hole and make defenders miss. He looks to punish defenders on every run, which is good and bad. Durability is a concern because of his running style. Howard is raw as a pass catcher and needs to continue to work on ball security. (3rd/4th round grade) link to report: http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2016/02/scouting-report-jordan-howard-rb.html

(FB) C.J. Prosise- Notre Dame (6’0″, 220 Lbs.): A former receiver, Prosise will enter the NFL with only one year of experience at Running Back. He is a big bodied back who runs with a good combination of speed, balance and power. He rarely goes down on first contact, showing powerful leg drive to fight for extra yards and make defenders earn every tackle. Prosise is a patient runner with surprisingly good lateral movement for a guy his size. He has a second gear that makes him a home run threat every time he touches the ball. As a former receiver, he shows natural hands and good route running to be an effective weapon out of the backfield. He is taller and has a tenancy to run upright, exposing his body to take big hits. Prosise is new to the position and does not always trust what he sees, which leads to missed holes and negative plays. He missed 5 games in his only year at Running Back, so durability is a concern. He is still learning all the different facets of playing the position, including pass protection. Prosise also had 5 fumbles this past season, which is a concern. He is raw, but has considerable upside. (3rd/4th round grade)

(CB) Tyler Ervin- San Jose St. (5’9″, 192 Lbs.): I like to think of Ervin as a Complimentary Back with upside. While I don’t see him as an every game Feature Back, I do see enough traits where he can be more than just a change of pace type runner game to game and he could fill in as a Feature Back for short stretches of a season. Ervin has great explosion, reaching top speed quickly. He is surprisingly powerful for a runner of his size and can fight through arm tackles and gain those tough extra yards. He is an elusive runner with good vision. He is successful because he rarely takes big hits. Ervin is a natural pass catcher with soft hands and will be a real threat as a pass catching option in the NFL. Ervin was a team captain and a high character guy. Ervin does not have great size and his frame appears maxed out.  He may be a liability as a pass protector and will have to win with technique rather than strength in pass protection. He needs to learn to be more patient as a runner, as he has a tenancy to outrun his blocking. Durability is an issue with his lack of size. (4th/5th round grade)

(FB) Keith Marshall- Georgia (5’11”, 219 Lbs.): A highly recruited Back out of high school that has had his college career cut short by a rash of injuries. Marshall has prototypical size for the position and elite straight line speed to go with it. He is quick footed with good lateral movement skills and an ability to make defenders miss. He is a tough runner with good pad level and will keep his feet moving to get those tough extra yards. He shows natural skills as a pass catcher and is an above average blocker, giving him value on 3rd down. Reports say he is well respected by his teammates and coaches. Marshall needs to improve on his patience and vision as the tape shows he missed far to many open lanes. He does not run with great balance and can be taken down with glancing blows to his lower body. Injuries are the major concern with Marshall as he has missed major time due to a variety of injuries throughout his career. (5th/6th round grade)

(CB) Josh Ferguson- Illinois (5’9″, 198 Lbs.): When I watched Ferguson, my immediate reaction was that this could be Dion Lewis. They are similar in size and in running style. Ferguson has those video game, make you miss types of moves. He runs with great balance and has the ability to make defenders look silly. Ferguson shows good patience, allowing his blockers to set up his running lanes and he has good burst to accelerate through the hole. He is more physical than defenders give him credit for and will fight through tackles. Is a real threat as a pass catcher, showing soft hands and good routes and could be an option spread out wide or coming out of the backfield. Ferguson size limits him as a between the tackles type of runner.  He has 11 career fumbles, so ball security needs to be addressed. Ferguson struggles in pass protection because of his size. He also missed some time due to injuries, so durability is a concern. (5th/6th round grade)

(FB) Kelvin Taylor- Florida (5’10”, 207 Lbs.): Taylor is a compact runner who shows a good knack for getting “skinny” through even the smallest of holes. He is a physical runner who keeps his legs going, fighting for extra yards on every run. He has a good combination of lateral agility and quickness. Taylor runs aggressive and will punish defenders who try to tackle him high. He is the most reliable runner in this class in terms of ball security. In his 486 career rushing attempts, he has never fumbled. Taylor has NFL bloodlines and from all reports, knows the type of hard work it takes to make it in the NFL. Taylor does not have great size and looks to be maxed out from a physical standpoint. Taylor was not used as a pass catcher in college and is unproven in that role. Overall, Taylor does not possess any elite traits, but play the game the right way and should be a solid contributor in the NFL. (6th round grade)

(CB) Keenan Reynolds- Navy (5’9″, 191 LBs.): I would be remiss if I didn’t put Reynolds on this list. He is an obvious draft target because of his Navy connection. Reynolds is not slouch on the field though, as he was the most productive player in college football with 88 touchdowns. Reynolds is an instinctive runner who runs with good patience and vision. He has a good combination of quick feet and balance, making it tough for defenders to get a good grasp on him. Reynolds shows the ability to pick things up quickly as he looked natural as a pass catcher in his limited time at the position down at the Shrine game. He is an obvious team leader and a high character guy. He is undersized, both from a height perspective as well as from a physical perspective. He will come to the NFL unproven as a true Running Back or a true Receiver. He is a tough guy but has missed time due to nagging injuries. A true project with great intangibles. (7th round grade)

Interesting UDFA prospects:

Marshaun Coprich- Illinois State (5’8″, 207 Lbs.)

Tre Madden- USC (6’0″, 223 Lbs.)

Brandon Wilds- South Carolina (6’1″, 220 Lbs)

Darius Jackson- Eastern Michigan (5’11”, 216 Lbs.)

Devon Johnson- Marshall (6’0″, 238 Lbs.)

 

Full Backs with a draftable grade:

Dan Vitale- Northwestern (6’0″, 239 Lbs.): Known at Northwestern as the “Super Back”, Dan Vitale did a little bit of everything for the Wildcats. His best attribute is as a receiver, showing natural hands and the ability to win the contested catch. He is quick off the line and shows the subtle nuances of a seasoned receiver. He uses his big frame to block out defenders and give his QB a large target. He has good straight line speed and will surprise defenders with it. Vitale shows good technique as a pass blocker but needs to add strength to take on Offensive Lineman. Vitale lined up all over the place and a creative coordinator should be able to find mismatches with him. He is a little stiff in everything he does and does not look natural with the ball in his hands. (5th/6th round grade)

Glenn Gronkowski- Kansas State (6’2″, 239 Lbs.): Obviously with the last name Gronkowski you are going to get a closer look. Glenn is not his brother Rob, but he does have some intriguing traits that make him a draftable prospect. Like his brother, Glenn is well built and works hard to maintain it. He moves well for his size and is a good athlete overall. He plays the game with intensity, showing passion and purpose as a blocker and runner. Glenn received limited reps as a pass catcher, but showed natural hands and good route running. Glenn does not have great size or speed to make the transition to a traditional Tight End role in the NFL. He is well developed as a run blocker, but needs to continue to develop as a pass protector. (6th round grade)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

58 Responses to “Building The Big Board: Running backs and Full backs”

  1. Jack says:

    Saw they resigned Blount for cheap money. Not a huge fan of Blount but for the money, it’s reasonable. He’s a monster in the open field, but it’s getting to the open field that can be an issue. Too much Fred Astaire in the backfield, and takes awhile to get up to speed. Also when nothing’s there he often tries to make something there. Would prefer a back who is more of a consistent 3-4 ypc guy even if it means we don’t get the big plays.

  2. JohnG says:

    Bill reportedly met with and broke down film with CB/FS Sean Davis out of Maryland. Lock that up as one of his reach second round picks

    • Ryan says:

      I wouldn’t be so quick to call him a reach. He’s a physical clone of Eric Rowe, who went at #47 last year.

  3. PSW says:

    4 day 2 picks, expect defensive front seven and an offensive tackle. With 5 6th round pick expect RB, WR, and doubling up on OT and/or front seven. With the remaining 6th and 7th round picks look to try and catch lightning in a bottle at DB.

    • jimr says:

      I agree. the only positions that would get meaningful pt this year would be OT and CB

      • steve earle says:

        This would be true only if you knew who was going to be picked and could predict injuries. For instance take a look at Mike Gerkin’s latest big board notes on WR’s. Sterling Shepard has all the talent any team could want his only negative is his height. I feel sure he could make a major impact for us. I just don’t expect Bill to go after him but who knows?

    • GM-in-Training says:

      I expect in one of their moves they will look to get a 2017 pick as well.

      • acm says:

        From Patriots’ perspective, moving draft capital from 2016 into 2017 would be the ideal scenario.
        Unfortunately, barring the assumption other GMs are just plain dumb, this would be a tough thing to do this year. Future picks are usually created when 1) a team swings wildly and are desperate to move up to get a prospect or 2) an important player is traded away.
        This is a rather poor draft class, which means few teams, if any at all, would be willing to go crazy and trade by big margins up the board outside of the first round. There is decent depth at some positions in the 2-3 round range but the overall level of talent is anything but earth-shattering, so teams would be unwilling to give-up much even if they are interested in a trade.
        So, unless the Pats have another Chandler Jones-type of trade up their sleeves, I expect they will have a hard time gaining a valuable pick in 2017. Sure maybe they can create an extra 6th rounder or whatever but nothing more than that, imo.
        Then again, we can always hope one of the other GMs gets stupid.

        • GM-in-Training says:

          It’s not a question of if you can trade for 2017 picks, it’s a question of what value can you get?
          There are some teams that need to rebuild and would probably trade 3rds or 6ths for 2nds or 5ths next year.

  4. GM-in-Training says:

    Tyler Gaffney’s year?

    On paper, Tyler Gaffney is a feature back.
    5’11”. 220#. 4.49 40. 15 reps in bench press. 6.78 3-cone. 36.5″ vertical.
    His senior year at Stanford he ran for 1709 yards and 21 touchdowns as a downhill power back.

    If (and it’s a significant “if”) he can stay healthy, he seems like what the Pats have been looking for.

    • Todti says:

      Exactly my thoughts… one year ago.
      I just don’t count on him anymore so that the surprise could only be positive,

    • steve earle says:

      I can’t recall if he had any injury problems at Stanford so if not I wouldn’t think a one time injury would be a big deal. It could be though if he had taken a number of years of heavy pounding and this was just an early sign but we will have to wait to see how this turns out. I’m making no judgements yet.

      • GM-in-Training says:

        In all 4 years at Stanford, Gaffney had 486 rushing attempts. Only his senior year was a heavy load with 330 attempts. He’s had 2 years to recover from that. I’m not sure what to make of him.

        With Cooper and Mason as OG, and Devlin/Harbor as FB, there’s a chance the Pats have a slick running game this year.

        • steve earle says:

          Doesn’t sound like he should have taken a severe beating given the facts you give us. Gives us some hope that he can be that bell cow RB we have lacked for too long. And as you say Cooper ( if he becomes what he was touted to be) and Mason and Jackson we may indeed see that running attack so long absent. Great time of year full of hope and promise.

  5. acm says:

    Any rookie at the WR and RB position, no matter how early or late he gets drafted by the Pats, will end up red-shirting in 2016. That is, people can forget about any sort of tangible contribution this season from such a pick.

    Furthermore, this is a pretty lukewarm RB class and even less exciting WR class. Spending even a 2nd round pick for either of these positions is unlikely to yield a good enough talent who’d become a difference-maker down the road.
    Personally, the only player with high-enough upside to be a long-term starter at RB for the Pats and could be had at a good value with a 3rd round pick, is CJ Procise (Notre Dame) … and that’s with a late 3rd round pick, not earlier.

    For the record, the 2017 Rb class looks a lot better than this year’s. Next year Pats should be able to get much better return for their investment if they are looking for a 3-4 year starter at the RB position. The 2017 WR class can’t possibly be any worse than the 2016 crop either.

    Imo, the best way to invest this years early picks – 2nd and 3rd rounders – would be on DL, LB and DB or if an OL-man drops unexpectedly (e.g. Decker, Spriggs, Whitehair) … and maybe, just maybe CJ Procise if he is still on board in late 3rd. Everything else would be drafting for need and not value, which is not the way to build a franchise in the NFL.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      acm,
      I might agree with you on WR, but do not get the logic on RB. RB is one of the easier position for a rookie to contribute at and this team does not have a feature back on the roster.
      I feel like RB is one position where a rookie does have a real chance to come in and make a contribution.

      • acm says:

        Not sure why the logic is tough to get – RB and WR are positions that redshirt with the Pats virtually by default.
        My argument vs drafting a player at either of those two positions early is not related to red-shirting alone, though. In fact, the main reason for it is that this draft lacks in talent with high enough potential/upside to be a multi-year starter down the road, that would warrant a 2-3 round pick … especially in a year they don’t have a 1st round one.
        Hence why CJ Procise I see as quite possibly the only exception this year – he will still red-shirt, but he has the upside to be difference-maker for the Pats down the line.

        • Mike Gerken says:

          I don’t see enough depth on this team at RB to assume a rookie RB will come in and automatically be redshirted.
          Who runs the ball this year? Is the team just going to pass all year? It does not give me a lot of confidence to see Brandon Bolden in that backfield on a regular basis.

        • acm says:

          It will be a committee approach, Mike, as usually has been the case lately. One thing I can tell you with virtually absolute certainty – it won’t be a rookie RB no matter how highly he is drafted (2nd or 3rd round).

      • Russell says:

        I agree with acm, I don’t see any drafted RB getting much work in 2016, maybe 5-7 % of the snaps. With that in mind, barring injury to a position drafting a;
        DT, would likely see 15-20% of the snaps.
        CB, would likely see 9-12% of the snaps
        OL, would likely see 10-15% of the snaps
        LB, would likely see 10% of the snaps
        So I would say ANY drafted player will add little over-all to 2016 team,(barring injury) except DT.
        However, DB is the area with the lease depth, with an injury.
        I think BB trades two 2nds for an early 2nd to get a targeted player.
        Then BB, trades a 3d to move back and get a 4th and a 5th.
        This group of 6th round prospects will likely be P-Squad players, unless BB carries an extra QB on the roster.

        • Kevan says:

          I think Prosise is an interesting player for this discussion because he might need more time to develop his skills, but might also add the most upside. I think his fumble issues can be fixed with NFL coaching plus more time at the position, worried about pass blocking as well. He is a special teams player and I could see him as an eventual bolden replacement. Right now I’m leaning toward belicheck going CB,Tackle with is 1st 2 picks. Butler/Ryan have contracts expiring, Vollmer and cannon do too. So this would be considered depth, future picks. Free agency= short term, draft= long term. I could see the patriots taking a RB early though, and would expect some type of contribution. In an ideal world for BB no rookie is getting a lot of playing time, there learning. Patriots do the committee thing at RB anyway so no single player would max out past 40% anyway. Smart move would be to target a RB that falls to the comp pick in the 3rd. My top five in no order are prosise,Dixon,Howard,booker,j.williams. But who knows there’s always late round guy that does good too. Limited reps is ideal but a red shirt year is not set in stone, each player and situation is different. There will be a chance to land an NFL ready talent and if pats hit on one he will play.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      It may be the best thing the Pats can do for their running game in 2016 is to draft a blue-chip tackle at the top of the 2nd round, and grab a couple mid-round or UDFA power running RB.

      The new OT instantly becomes the Swing Tackle in training, and experience shows us, we’ll get to use that player at several points in the season.

    • Ryan says:

      I’m not going to say that our holes at WR and RB should stop us from taking the best player available, but I’m not in favor of putting off drafting those positions any longer. We have 4 day 2 picks, and if not one of them is spent at an offensive skill position I will be sorely disappointed. Both of our day 2 picks last year (Richards and Grissom) were nothing but backups and special teams players in their rookie seasons, so I don’t see why we can’t do the same for WR or RB this year in the hopes of long-term results. Once again, if a tremendous OL, DT, DE, or CB falls to us we had better be taking them, but if not we have to work to fill ALL of the holes on our roster with young talent.

      • Ryan says:

        Also, I’m not buying the idea that this group of WRs is awful. The CB class is considered strong, yet the WRs who were productive against this class are devalued. Yes, this WR class is slow in the forty-yard dash, but aren’t we supposed to avoid using that as the end-all, be-all for scouting? I’m not going to say that this class is amazing, but I don’t think that they’re any worse than average just because their long speed is less impressive.

        • acm says:

          Well, you assumed I was referring to the lack of 40-dash times. I myself never said that, did I?
          What I was referring to was the lack of overall quality in players at Rb and WR likely to drop to the Pats in the 2-3 round range vs players at other positions or any long-shot pick at WR and RB in the late rounds.

          Regarding why CB over WR, what you are referring to is the college game and not projection at the pro-level. At CB there are players who may be available for the Pats that project better in their system than the talent at WR and thus warrant a high (2-3 round) pick.
          In the end of the day, we’ll have to wait and see who will be available when the Pats make their picks – I am in no way suggesting they should draft for need at CB either. What I am saying, however, is that there is a good chance players at that position projected to fall deep enough to the Pats would be a better system fit than the corresponding talent at WR and even RB.

        • Ryan says:

          Yup, my bad for assuming you were referring to forty times; I’ve been reading too much NFL.com. There’s plenty of other stuff not to like about this WR class. Still, I could see Tyler Boyd falling to us at the end of round 2 and I’m not in favor of passing on him. You’re right, though; we’ll just have to wait and see.

      • acm says:

        Well, Ryan, you just wrote out the definition of “drafting for need over value”.

        • Ryan says:

          Well yeah, if you classify each position as either a need or not a need. Really, all positions are on the same scale of need, and there is just a greater need at some than others. What I’m saying is that I’d be willing to grab a valuable player who is falling even if he’s at a position where the need is less severe than it is at RB or WR. Still, I wouldn’t grab Paxton Lynch even if he falls to the end of Round 2, because QB is probably the position of least need on our whole roster.

          I’m somewhere in between the need vs value debate: I emphasize our team needs but I’m willing to take a falling player at any significant position.

        • td says:

          Drafting for need whether they need a starter or backup would be part of the value equation if you ask me. The other part(s) would be the rookie salary structure and the possible 2nd contract. Factor in also what Bill said about being an outlier in that they want to do things differently on Offense and Defense so that they have the chance at better players where they are drafting.

    • steve earle says:

      I don’t disagree with your facts or numbers but I do have reservations with your conclusions. Even in the best of drafts we have seen 1st rd selections struggle to make a starting roll for himself and not just on the Pats. Trading up both 2nds to get even a targeted player is still a best gamble pick. As this pertains to RBs and WRs being taken with a 2nd or 3rd nothing is cast in stone that this is predestined the guy ends up in what is being described as a red shirt year barring injury. Ryan makes an excellent point when he points out that this WR class had more then it’s share of success vs this CB class in spite of some lesser 40 times. I believe the 40 times are only one indicator and we should look at prediction and level of competition in at least equal parts. In my last mock I had a DT an OT and a CB in the first 3 picks but if any one of the or more end up being a WR and/or RB I would not be greatly surprised or disappointed (depending on the player) because both areas can stand an influx of talent imo.

  6. Todti says:

    Mock Draft

    BB is going full trade wizard here.
    1) The Patriots trade their 60, 61, 91 for 49ers’ 37, 105,142,145 targeting a falling impact player. The 49ers have the most picks, but need quality on a roster pretty much depleted thereof. They would have 7 (maybe even drafting down here), 60, 61, and 68 thereafter.
    2) The Patriots trade 145 & 204 for Ravens’ 130. The Patriots use one of their 5 6th rounders to trade up. The Ravens have multiple compensatory picks (132, 134), need quality depth, and are generally pretty good at drafting. So why not aquiring more mid-round picks. Also, they only have 182 and 209 after round 134.
    3) The Patriots trade 105 & 130 for the Falcons’ 81 and a 2017 5th rounder because the Patriots have 11 picks this year but only 5 next year.
    Long story short, it looks like this:

    2-37 DT Vernon Butler
    Branch and Knighton are going to be 31 and 30, respectively, at the start of the season and none of them is under contract in 2017. Butler is a true 3 down DT, versatile, and could form a formidable duo with Brown (plus anything Easley might have to offer).

    3-81 ILB Kentrell Brothers
    He’s not really my favourite LB but I guess he’s a valuable pick here (and Jones and Fackrell might not be available). Brothers is not very athletic, but highly instinctive and still solid in the passing game. He could free up Collins and Hightower (and McClellin) and thus improve the whole defense.

    3-96 OT Kyle Murphy
    Like Mike wrote in his assessment, he fits the mold of the earlier Patriots’ OTs and with Dante coming back that might be a positive. He’s got potential in both the run and pass game although he needs a year to sit and improve his strength, which he will get behind Solder and Vollmer. Also, he played at Stanford, so…

    5-142 CB D.J. White
    Solid athleticism and about the height of Butler, but great cover skills and instincts. Should be a capable second CB in case they decide to let Ryan go. I know it’s not as high as many would like to see the Patriots draft a CB but I just don’t feel safe with CBs outside the top prospects so I’d rather draft in the mid-rounds.

    6-196 WR Daniel Braverman
    With Hogan and Washington coming in there is enough depth not to be forced to draft a WR early. So, the only WR in my mock is Braverman, who probably is the most Patriots-esque WR coming out of college in the last couple of years. He would provide the necessary depth at slot WR that was exposed last season, and could succeed Amendola down the road.

    6-208 FB/mTE Dan Vitale
    Versatile TE out of the backfield, but limited athleticism and classic FB skills. Develin’s on a 1-year contract and in case Harbor gets the FB/mTE role this season, he could succeed him after one year on the PS (if he clears waivers) and save about $1m in 2017.

    6-214 RB Peyton Barber
    The Patriots don’t repeat the Dobson/Boyce mistake and use a late-round pick as a stop-gap option to a deep RB class in 2017. That doesn’t mean there aren’t quality RBs available, but the Patriots can find a serviceable option here. While not being highly athletic he’s got the size and vision to be the big back and had the 4th-best time at the three cone drill. He’s apparently a smart guy, picking up playbooks quickly and showing potential in pass protection, and considering his background he seems like a humble guy.

    6-221 QB Brandon Allen
    Future backup after Jimmy G leaves. Coming from a pro-style system, shows leadership and accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws.

    7-243 WR/RB Keenan Reynolds
    Versatile WR project.

    7-250 priority FA

    • Dan says:

      There is NO way Keenan Reynolds doesn’t get drafted by the Pats. We gave a 5th rounder last year for Navy’s long snapper. Just hope they don’t draft him with one of the 2nd rounders.

      I actually like this pick, I think the kid has a TON of potential!

  7. J H TARBORO says:

    Don’t sleep on our guy Joey Losefa, last year in final weeks of the season after Blount went down, we made 2 stupid mistakes, we didn’t give Losefa much of an opportunity to run the ball despite running over defenders with his few carries, and the 2nd mistake was Steven Jackson, waste of money and time. Losefa could be a bell cow back for us, if in shape and knowing the playbook.

  8. GM-in-Training says:

    I think you have to count Clay Harbor as a Fullback also. BB has described Harbor as having that capability in the past.

    This is the first time in 3 years or so that I thought Devlin’s roster spot might be iffy.

    Plays he’s made (like this http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap2000000290429/James-Develin-1-yard-touchdown-run ), his clutch TD catch in the 2015 AFC championship, and his special teams have always made it seem like he was a roster lock. This year, dunno. Maybe we see some 2-fullback sets?

    I’m trying to figure out how many TE, how many WR, and how many RB make the 53 this year?

    You could make an argument they keep 4 TE (Gronk, Bennett, Harbor, Williams), 1 FB(Devlin), 4 RB (Lewis, White, Bolden, Brown), and 6 WR (Edelman, Amendola, Hogan, Martin, Slater…and one of Washington/Dobson/Harper) but that seems like one more than they usually have, and they still don’t have a big RB for 1st & 2nd downs. Derby and Harper could probably stay on the practice squad, with mid-round RB pick. I guess Amendola’s contract is still waiting for some kind of attention (post-draft when they’ll have more leverage?).

    Yes, it’s too soon to guess from the outside, but I’m curious what their strategy is.

    They could park some young WR and RB on the practice squad, but it sure

  9. GM-in-Training says:

    Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Knighton’s contract is a lot more team friendly than expected.

    Base Salary: $900,000

    Signing Bonus: $250,000

    Workout Bonus: $100,000

    Per-Game Roster Bonus: $31,250 (total of $500,000)

    Likely to be Earned Incentives: $300,000

    Cap Hit: $2,018,750

    I suspect it’s loaded with Not-Likely-To-Be-Earned incentives for playing time, sacks, forced fumbles, or some such, as apparently those details haven’t been released yet. Pretty smart for both sides if they did it that way. Knighton believes in himself, so he accepts the performance incentives. The Pats get a high-upside veteran at a price they can afford, yet his signing bonus isn’t so high that they couldn’t step away from this deal at any time in the season.

  10. Russell says:

    RB is a tough call, and given the Patriots early draft picks, I have my doubts coach Belichick takes one. Same for a WR I think. A 6th round pick for a RB sounds better to me at this point.
    I like Keith Marshall, who has had injuries, but that also means limited “wear & tear” and a high upside. The speed/size is there, he worked hard as a special teams guy, and did not complain when healthy about his playing time. Strong character guy, solid Combine performace. Not sure he makes it to the 6th round, 4th looks better to me.

    • Todti says:

      Yeah, I could see that happen. A late-round RB I like is Peyton Barber. While not being highly athletic to break out for the big plays, he’s got the size and vision to be the big back and had the 4th-best time at the three cone drill. He’s apparently a smart guy, picking up playbooks quickly and showing potential in pass protection, and considering his background he seems like a humble guy. I think he could be a nice option for one of the 6th-round picks, maybe providing a stop-gap to next season’s RB class or being a valuable PS guy. If he shows enough quality in pass pro during the preseason, I can see him getting Brown’s Rolle with more upside down the road.

    • EdgeX says:

      I agree with Russell.

      Most people are thinking the Pats will draft a RB – and I’m betting they will in the later rounds.

      But I think BB is well aware of the talent in the RB class this year compared to next – so why push the issue?

      Remember the Pats were fine with going with just Blount, Lewis, White, and Bolden last year.

      • steve earle says:

        Your right about Pats being fine with the backs you list until Lewis went out on IR. I just can’t help thinking he was the biggest loss we endured. The Offense was just never the same after that. Also I agree most likely a RB will be a day 3 draft.

    • Matt says:

      I agree! PATS have shown time and time again that they are not willing to pay RB’s beyond the basic minimum in FA. I don’t see the value in using a 1st, 2nd or even early 3rd on a RB that will only stay for 3-4 years and then leave in FA because they won’t get paid. (vereen/Ridley)Those first 3 rounds should be on picks who will become the staple of the franchise for the next 5-10 years. RB’s can always be found in the later rounds.

      2(60) Xavien Howard CB
      2(61) Chris Jones DT
      3(91) Joe Haeg OT
      3(96) Davonte Booker RB
      6(196) DJ White CB
      6(204) Nick Kwiatkowski LB
      6(208) Devon Cajuste WR/TE
      6(214) Willie Beavers OT
      6(221) Mike Thomas WR
      7(243) Kelvin Taylor RB
      7(250) Keenan Reynolds ATH

      • Todti says:

        I really like that mock, although I doubt Beavers would still be available at the end of the 6th. Since BB will probably trade to fill the space between 96 and 196, I could see the Patriots draft Beavers at that point.

      • acm says:

        I like your reasoning Matt but then I look at your mock and see you have Booker in the 3rd!?!? Please, help me understand :)

        P.S. There are always exception to the rules – if a particular talent at RB is available in the 2-3 round range, there is still value in such a pick. BPA is always the best way to go in a draft.
        In this draft, however, I for one don’t think the value would be there in drafting a RB (or a WR) in the 2-3 range.

  11. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft.
    2 Carl Nassib DE Penn State
    2 Kenneth Dixon RB Louisiana Tech
    3 Kyler Fackrell LB Utah State
    3 Kyle Murphy OT Stanford
    6 Cole Toner OT Harvard
    6 Fabian Moreau CB UCLA
    6 D.J. White CB Georgia Tech
    6 Jason Fanaika DE Utah
    6 Aaron Morris G Mississippi
    7 Michael Caputo SS Wisconsin
    7 Travon Cooley DT Florida Atlantic

    Red Sox look real good true number one starter and several young stars primed for big year.
    Don’t let Pablo Fizzle out he’s a big guy and was the key for Giants winning several
    World Series. He can do some special things.

    • Todti says:

      Finally, someone is mentioning Fackrell. I think he could be a versatile chess piece for BB and I’d like to see someone his size drop into coverage.
      I could live with the draft and I like Murphy and White. But with Fackrell having pass rush potential and the deep class I would change Nassib into a DT. I highly doubt Knighton and Branch are there for the next seasons and a combination of Flowers, Grissom, Fackrell, Collins, Hightower, and FAs (internal and external) should be sufficient.

    • uknepatsfan says:

      I can’t see them using all 11 picks.

      They really need to move up in the 2nd and get Vollmer’s replacement OT. 11 picks, whilst nice, is a waste.

      I’d be looking at OT and CB early on day 2 before considering a DE, RB, TE or WR. Package some picks and move up in the 2nd.

      I think the 4th rounder is gone but look at it as we got Marty Bennett in the 4th round, better than any TE you could get in the 4th this season by some distance.

      I think they may look to get back into the 5th as a more realistic proposition.

      • GM-in-Training says:

        UK…
        I very much agree with your sense of the Pat’s priorities.
        In my mock, I had them trading picks 61 and 62 and one of the 6th rounders to move up in the second for an OT, and picking up a new 4th rounder…since those picks almost get you to the top of the 2nd round just on point value.

        As much as the Pats need another lead running back, there are a lot of 220# guys that will be available on day 3 of the draft.

      • steve earle says:

        Also agree. I almost expect BB to trade up a 2nd and a 3rd to mid 2nd rd pick, that is if anyone can “expect” Bill do do anything except the unexpected.

        • uknepatsfan says:

          The other thing we may be overlooking is that BB may well not like any of the OT’s and RB’s that will be left from the 2nd round in this draft. So, he may use those extra picks to stockpile into next years draft.

          The Pats don’t have a lot of holes and the depth in this draft is on defense, which is the Pats strong point and was drafted heavily last year.

          Realistically, most players drafted in Day 3 will struggle to make the roster and they will be the depth picks which we know are defensive players that aren’t major needs.

          Usually, there’s at least one GM on the hotseat come draft day who panics and wants to buy back into the early rounds to try and get enough high end picks to try and turn their team around. Maybe, BB finds that guy and trades into next year’s draft where the talent on offense looks to be much better and they’ll (hopefully) have a 1st rounder that they can move up if necessary to grab an OT then?

          To me, anyway, that seems more sensible and the kind of thing BB is most likely to look to do.

          As Steve says, though, its a hard thing to try and guess what the greatest head coach of all time is going to do on draft day. We’re all just trying to second guess an absolute genius!!

  12. jim R says:

    IMO you look at the 2017 RB class it is stuffed.

    • EdgeX says:

      Just connecting the dots…Ivan Fears (our running back coach) was at Notre Dame’s Pro day…wonder who he was checking out :)

      • steve earle says:

        Due dilligence at least but he may lobby Bill for a RB, who knows?

      • uknepatsfan says:

        C J Prosise?

        Not a bad RB if that’s who they like, but I suspect he’s a late 2nd/early 3rd pick.

        As I said, Henry is the only one who may be left on the board when we pick in the 2nd that I’d be happy taking. RB is such a fungible position, I really hate taking high picks on one when an UDFA can often perform just as well as a 1st or 2nd rounder.

        KC is a prime example of this. They lost Charles and plugged in West (UDFA) and Ware (6th rd) and never missed a beat.

        You can get starting level RB’s in the late rounds every year. You can’t get starting quality OT’s that late though.

    • uknepatsfan says:

      This, Jim R.

      2017 RB draft is apparently loaded. A lot of this years RB’s have ball security issues. BB doesn’t really draft RB’s with fumbling issues.

      If Derrick Henry is available in the 2nd I’d jump on him as he’s pretty much LaGarette Blount but younger and quicker.

      One imagines that Keenan Reynolds is a lock to be drafted in the 6th or 7th.

      • Todti says:

        Mock Draft

        BB is going full trade wizard here.
        1) The Patriots trade their 60, 61, 91 for 49ers’ 37, 105,142,145 targeting a falling impact player. The 49ers have the most picks, but need quality on a roster pretty much depleted thereof. They would have 7 (maybe even drafting down here), 60, 61, and 68 thereafter.
        2) The Patriots trade 145 & 204 for Ravens’ 130. The Patriots use one of their 5 6th rounders to trade up. The Ravens have multiple compensatory picks (132, 134), need quality depth, and are generally pretty good at drafting. So why not aquiring more mid-round picks. Also, they only have 182 and 209 after round 134.
        3) The Patriots trade 105 & 130 for the Falcons’ 81 and a 2017 5th rounder because the Patriots have 11 picks this year but only 5 next year.
        Long story short, it looks like this:

        2-37 DT Vernon Butler
        Branch and Knighton are going to be 31 and 30, respectively, at the start of the season and none of them is under contract in 2017. Butler is a true 3 down DT, versatile, and could form a formidable duo with Brown (plus anything Easley might have to offer).

        3-81 ILB Kentrell Brothers
        He’s not really my favourite LB but I guess he’s a valuable pick here (and Jones and Fackrell might not be available). Brothers is not very athletic, but highly instinctive and still solid in the passing game. He could free up Collins and Hightower (and McClellin) and thus improve the whole defense.

        3-96 OT Kyle Murphy
        Like Mike wrote in his assessment, he fits the mold of the earlier Patriots’ OTs and with Dante coming back that might be a positive. He’s got potential in both the run and pass game although he needs a year to sit and improve his strength, which he will get behind Solder and Vollmer. Also, he played at Stanford, so…

        5-142 CB D.J. White
        Solid athleticism and about the height of Butler, but great cover skills and instincts. Should be a capable second CB in case they decide to let Ryan go. I know it’s not as high as many would like to see the Patriots draft a CB but I just don’t feel safe with CBs outside the top prospects so I’d rather draft in the mid-rounds.

        6-196 WR Daniel Braverman
        With Hogan and Washington coming in there is enough depth not to be forced to draft a WR early. So, the only WR in my mock is Braverman, who probably is the most Patriots-esque WR coming out of college in the last couple of years. He would provide the necessary depth at slot WR that was exposed last season, and could succeed Amendola down the road.

        6-208 FB/mTE Dan Vitale
        Versatile TE out of the backfield, but limited athleticism and classic FB skills. Develin’s on a 1-year contract and in case Harbor gets the FB/mTE role this season, he could succeed him after one year on the PS (if he clears waivers) and save about $1m in 2017.

        6-214 RB Peyton Barber
        The Patriots don’t repeat the Dobson/Boyce mistake and use a late-round pick as a stop-gap option to a deep RB class in 2017. That doesn’t mean there aren’t quality RBs available, but the Patriots can find a serviceable option here. While not being highly athletic he’s got the size and vision to be the big back and had the 4th-best time at the three cone drill. He’s apparently a smart guy, picking up playbooks quickly and showing potential in pass protection, and considering his background he seems like a humble guy.

        6-221 QB Brandon Allen
        Future backup after Jimmy G leaves. Coming from a pro-style system, shows leadership and accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws.

        7-243 WR/RB Keenan Reynolds
        Versatile WR project.

        7-250 priority FA

        • Todti says:

          Sorry, didn’t want to reply here.

        • acm says:

          Don’t mind the mock but the trade scenarios resemble the brain-child of a comic-book writer on mushrooms, no offense 😉
          For one, with so many complicated trade moves, it’s easy to lose track of a pick(s) actual value and if anything is gained or lost in the process, when all is said and done.
          I can see the Pats try to move draft capital into 2017, though, I’ll give you that :)

        • uknepatsfan says:

          You have some players I like there: Butler, Brothers, Vitale and Murphy.

          I definitely agree with you that BB will be wheeling and dealing like ‘Delboy Trotter’ on draft weekend and those 5 6th rounders are going to be dangled tantalisingly.

          If Butler is there in the 2nd I think that I’d definitely take him. I like Brothers and you could be right that the Pats look to replace Mayo early. I just wonder whether the investment they’ve made in McClellin, though, means they are happy the have their man now?

          I think most of us would be absolutely flabbergasted if Keenan Reynolds isn’t a Patriot by May 1st

    • Jim R says:

      Fournette, McCaffery ,Chubb, Perine and Hurd. All potential first rounders

  • 2014 NFL Draft

  • 2013 NFL Draft

  • Patriots Draft Resources

  • */ ?>





  • Categories

  • Search NEPD Archives

  • Archives