College Watch List: Runningbacks

Could Runningback be the Patriots biggest need when the draft roles around?

Could Runningback be the Patriots biggest need when the draft roles around?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

You will have to excuse the randomness of my posts for the time being. My wife is due this week with baby #2 and it has been chaos in this house for awhile now. Speaking of chaos, that could also describe the Patriots backfield as we inch closer to week one of the season. With the news that Dion Lewis will need additional surgery on his knee, that creates a big question mark out of the backfield. I have made it known that I am not a huge fan of LeGarrette Blount’s, but it seems he will be called upon again this year to be the teams lead Runningback. Tyler Gaffney has made a push for reps in the backfield as well, and if he can prove he can stay healthy, he may end up the teams best all around back this year. I thought the Patriots would bring in a back in the 2016 NFL Draft, but they completely ignored the position once again. With the uncertainty at the position, hopefully that decision does not come back to bite them. The good news is that the upcoming Runningback class should be the deepest it has been in awhile. There is going to be some real talent available at the position after round 1 and teams are going to find quality starters in the later rounds. Here are the Seniors I will be keeping my eye on this season.

Before I get to the list, I have to credit where credit is due. While I was screaming for the Patriots to draft a Runningback in last year’s draft, the Patriots organization went in several different directions that at the time I found puzzling. However, it seems as though many of the rookies are showing real promise and even late round guys like KGH and Ted Karras have a legitimate shot at making this team. Sure, I could nitpick and find a draft pick that I would have swapped out for one of the Runninbacks, but hindsight is 20/20. Still, I do not head into the season with a lot of confidence at the position. Blount is doing what Blount typically does. He still dances far too much in the backfield and tries to bounce to many runs outside. The problem is, he has success with that in the preseason, but when the games start to count, there are not young, undisciplined Defensive Ends out there over pursuing and giving up big plays to the outside. My hope is Gaffney can win that job and that White can continue to develop and hold down the fort until Lewis can come back, if he can come back that is. The Runningback’s will be a position I watch very closely this fall and I have to think the Patriots will look to add young talent in next year’s draft. Without further adieu, here is the prospect list:

Kareem Hunt, Toledo (5’10”, 200 Lbs.)

James Conner, Pitt (6’1″, 230 Lbs.)

Tarean Folston, Notre Dame (5’9″, 209 Lbs.)

Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-Lafayette (5’10”, 206 Lbs.)

Corey Clement, Wisconsin (5’10”, 210 Lbs.)

Thomas Tyner, Oregon (5’11”, 215 Lbs.)

De’Veon Smith, Michigan (5’11”, 228 Lbs.)

Taquan Mizzell, Virginia (5’9″, 192 Lbs.)

Jahad Thomas, Temple (5’9″, 189 Lbs.)

Shock Linwood, Baylor (5’7″, 200 Lbs.)

Javon Robinson, Auburn (5’11”, 230 Lbs.)

Greg Ward Jr., Houston (5’10”, 185 Lbs.)

Justin Davis, USC (6’0″, 195 Lbs.)

Trey Edmunds, Virginia Tech (6’0″, 224 Lbs.)


Obviously the strength of this class will come from the underclassmen, but there are some Seniors on this list that I am excited about. I have been a big fan of Hunt’s for awhile now and I am interested to see how James Conner looks after battling cancer. I am also intrigued but need to see more from McGuire, Tyner and Smith. I have Justin Davis as a later round guy right now, but I think he has potential and with a big year, he could move up. This should be a fun class to follow and maybe one of them will be wearing a Patriots uniform this time next year.


as always, you can follow me on twitter @midwestpatsfan










8 Responses to “College Watch List: Runningbacks”

  1. steve earle says:

    ESPN saying Pat’s are cutting Brian Stork. Not that shocking givin injury history. Hope the kid gives up football before any more concussions leaves him with brain damage.

  2. jim r says:

    Love the Pitt RB Conner.

    • carlo strada says:

      sure, guy runs hard

    • steve earle says:

      Conner might be a nice late or even mid round pick next year but how about one this year. I’ve been reading that Javorius “Buck” Allen may be a back to many for the Ravens. Only in his 2nd year and 6-0 220 he could be a nice fit with good up-side if BB were interested. I would be.

  3. GM-in-Training says:

    RB and OT are, and have been, my biggest question marks about the Pats and the place where I most urgently hoped for a great trade (OT), or a great waiver wire pickup (RB).

    Anthony Davis of the Niners is interesting, and may be available since they’ve got 6’8 355# Trenton Brown in his second year with the club.

    Who else would have a high enough ceiling to be worth taking, but a low enough floor that his price (trade value and cap hit) is doable?

    • steve earle says:

      Davis is also from Rutgers so has that going for him too. Not sure 49’ers can afford to let him go even if he doesn’t start? Still if they should consider it what do you think it would take?
      Another thought is Buck Adams of the Ravens. Balt is pretty deep at RB right now so he’s possable too. No Idea what they might ask though?

  4. steve earle says:

    Looks like Blount, Gaffney and White are our most likely right now so the question might be asked can BB find any real help via trade or FA? Hate to think what even a single injury could do to the position.

    • Ryan says:

      Lewis is out too. He just had another knee procedure that might land him on the IR-designated to return.

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