Building The Patriots Draft Board: Running Back

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

As we move to part two of the Draft Board series, we move on from a position that does not have a lot of talent and is not a big priority for the Patriots to a position that many experts have considered one of the more talented groups in this years draft and looks to be a need for the team. Despite the rumors swirling with Adrian Peterson and the signing of Rex Burkhead, I still think the Patriots will address the position.

Position: Runningback

Priority: Medium to High

Current Roster:

Rex Burkhead (age 26, signed through 2017)

James White (age 26, signed through 2017)

Dion Lewis  (age 26, signed through 2017)

D.J. Foster (age 23, signed through 2018, then a RFA)

James Devlin (age 28, signed through 2018)

Position Overview:

While the group is young, you can see that the Patriots will have some decisions at the position after this season. Burkhead is penciled in as the lead back right now, but as I stated above, the Patriots are working out 32 year old Adrian Peterson this week. Even if the do sign Pederson, it would probably be a 1 year deal, so the team could still look to add some youth, especially the more traditional type back. I think the team really likes White and will look to resign him for that 3rd down, change of pace, passing back or whatever other name you want to call his role. Foster is an intriguing young guy who is similar to Lewis and White and they thought enough of to keep him on the roster this year as a rookie. My list will focus mostly on the bigger backs, but I have a few smaller guys that I like too much to leave off the list.

Players With Draftable Grades:

Kareem Hunt, Toledo (5’10”, 214 Lbs.): If you have followed me for any time at all, you know my affinity for Hunt. He has been on my radar since he was a Sophomore. To me, he screams future Patriot. He does not fumble, which we know is a high priority for BB. He has the size to handle the ball 20-25 times a game. Hunt is a patient runner who has great lateral agility and quickness for his size. He has the ability to get skinny through the hole. He has great vision and patience, but his best asset is his balance. He plays with a low center of gravity and can lower his shoulder, all the while keeping his balance and fighting through tackles. He rarely has negative plays and falls forward to maximize every yard. Hunt is undervalued as a pass catcher, but showed in his Senior season he can be an option in the passing game. Injuries and durability are an issue and his pass protection needs work, but he is willing. Hunt does not have home run speed and can get caught from behind when he breaks through to the second level. Grade: 2nd round

Samaje Perine, Oklahoma (5’10”, 233 Lbs.): Perine is an interesting prospect that I have followed since arriving at Oklahoma. As a freshman, he seemed like a smaller, waterbug type of runner, but has gotten much bigger or the years. Now he is a one cut, bruiser type that still flashes some of those smaller back traits. He can still get small and squeeze through cracks and he shows some short area lateral movement skills from time to time. Mostly, he is a north south runner who plays with good pad level and contact balance. He fights through arm tackles and the legs keep churning. He shows good patience to allow his blockers to create space for him. He is a hard worker who will do anything for the good of the team. Above average as a pass protector and takes care of the ball. Does not have elite skills from a speed or make defender miss standpoint, but is a guy who will work hard to create his own yards. Perine has small arms and is not a threat as a pass catcher outside the occasion dump off. He has had a large workload and a variety of small injuries that have hurt his production and availability. Grade: 3rd/4th round

Jamaal Williams, BYU (6’0″. 213 Lbs.): Similar is size and style to Hunt, but not as good in any category. He is an elusive runner with quick feet that make defenders miss. Shows good patience waiting for the hole to open then decent burst to run through it quickly. Williams is another guy who takes care of the ball. He is an above average pass protector. He plays with purpose and power, requiring defenders to square him up if they want to bring him down. Williams can catch the ball, but is not natural doing so. He runs high and has taken a lot of big hits already in his career. It also leads to being pushed back when trying to gain those tough yards up the middle. Williams has dealt with some injuries and some off field issues. Commitment to the game must be answered, but he was named a team captain as a Senior. Grade: 4th round

D’onta Foreman, Texas (6’0″, 233 Lbs.): Foreman looks like a prototypical lead back for the NFL. He has great size and build up speed. Needs time to get to top end speed. He does not always play as physical as his body type would suggest. Foreman has put the ball on the ground at an alarming rate, but he did play with a broken finger this past year, so that could have lead to some of those issues. Once Foreman gets a head of steam going, he is tough to bring down. He keeps his legs churning and will fight for those tough yards. He struggles with pass protection. He just doesn’t seem to know where he is going or what he is supposed to be doing when asked to protect. Foreman has had a string of minor injuries in his one year as a full time starter and could not work out at the combine because of a stress fracture in his leg. Grade: 4th round

Wayne Gallman, Clemson (6’0″, 215 Lbs.): Gallman runs like his hair is on fire on every single hand off he gets. He has a quick first step and his burst get him into the defense quickly. He runs with good balance and a low center of gravity and looks to punish defenders that try to tackle him. Gallman is a good pass protector and fumbling is not really an issue with him. Gallman lacks patience in his runs and will get himself tackled because he does not allow blocks to develop. His powerful running style can be negated when he runs upright. Gallman can catch the ball, but was not a huge factor in that aspect in college, so it may need to be further developed. Grade: 4th round

Jeremy McNichols: Boise State (5’9″, 214 Lbs): While short, McNichols has the body type to handle the workload of an NFL lead back. His stature gives him a low center of gravity and a tough player to bring down. He is thick in his lower half and keeps his legs churning until he is down on the ground. He is a fluid mover in the passing game with natural hands and can line up out wide as a receiver. He has quick feet and lateral movement skills to make defenders miss. He is quick to the hole and has good vision to take the proper running lanes. He runs with purpose and will fight for every yard. He tends to try and make every run a big play and will bounce outside and lose yards rather than take the tough yards inside. McNichols has major ball security issues, almost leading to him not being on this list, but I like the rest of his game enough to hope it can be fixed. Grade: 4th round

Brian Hill, Wyoming (6’1″,219 Lbs): I wrote up Hill earlier in the season and my opinion on him has not changed much. Here is that report: http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2017/02/scouting-report-brian-hill-rb.html Grade: 5th round

James Conner, Pittsburgh (6’1″, 233 Lbs.): Conner is a big bodied runner who aggressive style and physical mentality make life difficult for defenders. Unquestioned work ethic coming back from cancer. Conner is a team leader and a warrior, on and off the field. Conner is a strong upfield runner, but shows a little wiggle at times. He is a tough guy to bring down and will fall forward on his carries. Conner does not have great speed and is not a big play threat. He was limited as a pass catcher, but showed improvement in that area as a Senior. He will try and bounce runs outside more than he should and has little success doing so. He gets the yards that are created for him, but does not have the COD or acceleration to create yards on his own. Grade: 6th round

De’Veon Smith, Michigan (5’10”, 223 Lbs): Smith has ideal size to be a lead back in the NFL. He is a bruising runner that will wear down defenders by the end of games. He keeps his legs moving as he fights for every yard. He rarely goes down on first contact and defenses better be good tacklers if they want to bring Smith down. Smith is a one speed, no nonsense runner that will get his team solid yardage on every carry. He shows good technique and willingness as a pass protector and ball security is not an issue. There is no creativity in his running style and he plays with tunnel vision. He runs to where he is supposed to even if the play does not develop properly. Smith was not used in the passing game and does not have natural receiving skills. He is not a home run threat and defenses will not have to game plan for him, but he can be a solid guy who quietly gets the job done. Grade: 6th/7th round

Tarik Cohen, North Carolina A&T (5’6″, 179 Lbs.): If you only watch one player prior to the draft, might I suggest Tarik Cohen. He is such a fun guy to watch. He truly is a waterbug out on the football field. He is quick and fast. As soon as he touches the ball he is shot out of a canon and then can make would be tacklers look silly as he weaves his way around them. He has break away speed once he gets to the open field and will not be caught. He is tougher than you would think to bring down. He is a natural pass catcher with soft hands and decent route running ability. Obviously his size is going to be a major issue moving forward. He was able to get away with using his speed to cut runs outside a lot in college and he won’t have that luxury in the NFL. He has some fumbling issues and he has a lot of wear and tear already on that smaller frame. Cohen could be a fun chess piece if he is put in the right situation. Grade: 7th round

Interesting UDFA Prospects:

Joe Williams, Utah (5’10”, 210 Lbs.)

Elijah McGuire, UL-Lafayette (5’9″, 214 Lbs)

Elijah Hood, North Carolina (5’11”, 232 Lbs)

I’tavius Mathers, Middle Tennessee (5’10”, 198 Lbs.)

LeShun Daniels, Iowa (5’10”, 222 Lbs.)

Final Thoughts:

This was a tough position to narrow down. I struggled with a few names to keep and a few to keep of the board. In reality, it comes down to the first name on the list if I am being honest. The others on this list I think will do a fine job if they come to the Patriots, but I really think Hunt could be very special as a Patriot. Remember me fondly when Hunt gets drafted 2 picks before or 2 picks after the Patriots pick because I will probably be in the fetal position for the remainder of draft weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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113 Responses to “Building The Patriots Draft Board: Running Back”

  1. Stephen J says:

    Great Conversation between Dane Brugler and Josh Norris dealing with RB’s TE’s and more

    https://audioboom.com/posts/5789578-nfl-draft-analyst-dane-brugler-on-2017-prospects

    Approx 38 min long

  2. Russell says:

    Patriots are showing interest in QB Ryan Nassib, 6’2″ 223 lbs, scored 41 on the Wonderlic. (50 is the best)

    • Stephen J says:

      This from Newsday.com

      In his four years with the Giants, Nassib appeared in five regular-season games and threw just 10 passes, completing nine of them.

      Nassib ran the scout team that helped the defense prepare for weekly opponents. And he was part of the think tank in the quarterback room that crunched film and tried to make decisions.

      • Russell says:

        Nassib’s preseason stats are poor, but again as a back-up to Eli he never got to play much.

        • Stephen J says:

          That’s preseason though where they test ideas out plus as you said he backed up so he was playing with 3rd and 4th stringers. His 9 for 10 in regular season is probably a more accurate assessment albeit a real small one.

      • Stephen J says:

        Questions I have such as Does he fit this offense? Can he make quick reads? Are they looking at him as the back up or as the 3rd QB if Jimmy G is traded? How’s his arm? Is he accurate?

        • Russell says:

          I’m guessing but he’s smart and has done lots of film work, to understand what is going on. I think he’s a practice Squad guy, and that could be what BB is looking for.

    • steve earle says:

      What’s your thinking on this guys? Is the trade Jimmy G debate about to heat up again or just Bill doing what Bill does?

      • Stephen J says:

        BB is certainly doing his homework(scouting round 1-2 players)(QB’s) like there is going to be a trade but with the depth of this class at CB/S WR Edge it could be for players that will drop. Who knows for certain but it sure seems like there is something going to happen. I’m watching what BB is doing not necessarily what is being reported.

  3. Russell says:

    Should the Patriots draft CB Sidney Jones if he falls to #72, knowing he won’t play 2017 ??

    • macspak says:

      ABSOLUTELY

    • Stephen J says:

      Depends on how this CB situation plays out. It’s interesting to me that the Pats said they are interested in Richard Sherman if Butler leaves. When I think about that you would have 2 big time CB’s and I’m sure Sherman would be looking to get paid good money. If that’s the case is the Pats 1st preference to keep Butler and pay him after this season as well. If that is their intention then I’d say no to Jones but if they are looking to move on from Butler I’d be more inclined to take Jones depending on who is left on the board.

      • Russell says:

        I think the Sherman deal is smoke, Seattle needs to fix their O-line, not change their Defense.
        As far as Butler goes; if he stays at #3.9 mil. this year, he’s gone next year, same as Garoppolo, if he stays $800K this year, he’s gone next year. So the Patriots are looking at TWO 3d round Compensatory picks, in 2019.
        There is a LOT more value to trade these guys now, for picks this year or next yr.

        • Stephen J says:

          What makes you think Butler is gone next year. I’ve seen nothing that convinces me of that.

        • steve earle says:

          Agree the Sherman talk is just talk. Would be shocked if BB pulled off that deal but nothing is impossible.
          Also I’m not convinced Butler will be gone after this year if he plays for the 3.9 mil. Bill could make a deal to extend him any time until he actually signs elsewhere. Again, nothing is impossible and keeping the cap under control this year doesn’t rule out a big deal for Butler next year.

  4. Stephen J says:

    This from Tony Pauline

    New England Patriots worked out Travis Rudolph/WR/Florida State today

    Here is an NFL.com breakdown of him from the combine

    http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/travis-rudolph?id=2558141

    • Ryan says:

      One of my least favorite wideouts this year, outside of Travin Dural. I hope we don’t take him early, at least.

  5. GM-In-Training says:

    Not that I want them to, but are there any veterans to trade away besides JG and MB?

    Last year they sent a former-5th-rounder TE to Denver because there wasn’t much work for him, and it opened up a spot for someone coming back from suspension.

    I suppose, after the draft and part way into camp they might figure out they have a veteran LB (Freeny) or DT (Kilgo) that they want to upgrade from or replace with a cheaper model. That usually happens after everybody’s gotten through camp healthy, though.

    Dunno, last year it seemed like who they were going to keep at the end of preseason was so difficult because they had so many guys worth keeping. With so few draft picks this year…and no visibility into how they approach the UDFA pool, I guess I’m just being impatient to see how they approach it.

  6. Russell says:

    With Brandon Bolden resigning, and Blount in the wings, hard to see the Patriots drafting a RB. I do think 1-2 undrafted guys maybe signed after the draft. I would watch free agent RB Antonio Andrews 5’10” 225 lbs. who got limited playing time in Tennessee behind a deep RB Group.

  7. Stephen J says:

    IF the Pats do trade Jimmy G do you think they bring in Luke McCown as a veteran back up since he has been released by the Saints or do the Pats go the draft route.

    • Russell says:

      I think they go the draft route to develop a guy. Copper Rush is first on my list. His physical abilities are not the best, but he has the mental abilities, which is harder to teach.

    • steve earle says:

      If something happens to TB a mid/late rd. rookie isn’t going to make any difference so a vet makes more sense to me.

      • Russell says:

        You only have so many reps in practice for a back-up QB, and Brissett needs the majority to develop. A vet. QB must learn the system, (lots of reps) and is only short term, setting your program back.

  8. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots Mock Draft and Predictions. 15.0

    Patriots trade Malcom Butler and a 5th round pick to Seattle for Richard Sherman and the
    2nd round pick of Seattle.

    2 Possible trade from Seattle Curtis Samuel WR Ohio State
    3 Samaje Perine RB Oklahoma
    3 Ethan Pocic C/G LSU
    4 Duke Riley OLB LSU
    5 Possible trade sent to Seattle
    5 Isaac Rochell DT/DE Notre Dame
    6 Dan Skipper OT Arkansas
    7 Ben Boulware ILB Clemson

    • bumbabeef says:

      I don’t see that happening as the Seahawks like their cornerbacks tall. I think the shortest corner they have is 6′ while Malcolm is 5’10. Also let’s just say Malcolm for Sherman is a wash, depending on who you ask for but let’s just say for this scenario they are. Why would the Seahawks trade their 2nd rounder for the Pats 5th.

      • Stephen J says:

        Yes they like their corners tall but not opposed to shorter one’s either. They are bringing in Budda Baker tomorrow for a visit and he is only 5’9″. I do agree though with the assessment of the picks a 5th for a 2nd not sure what the picks would be but that doesn’t seem right. Also Butler has to sign 1st before there could be a trade and he doesn’t appear to be in a rush to do that until after the draft but after April 21st would be another time frame to look for Butler to sign as well after the expiration where teams can sign him to an offer sheet.

      • Dan Sullivan says:

        Good point Patriots in this case could also send a veteran player probably an offensive lineman.

        Enjoy the Draft.
        Dan

  9. Stephen J says:

    List of Patriots Draft Visits per Walterfootball

    New England Patriots

    Rodney Adams, WR, South Florida (WOR)
    Quincy Adeboyejo, WR, Ole Miss (PRO)
    Derek Barnett, DE/3-4OLB, Tennessee (WOR)
    Austin Calitro, ILB, Villanova (WOR)
    Bryan Cox, DE, Florida (PRO)
    Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (WOR)
    Andrew Eide, G, Brigham Young (PRO)
    Jimmie Gilbert, OLB, Colorado (EW)
    Delano Hill, FS, Michigan (PRO)
    Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech (COM)
    T.J. Holloman, ILB, South Carolina (PRO)
    Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State (COM)
    Josh Jones, S, N.C. State (PRO)
    Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE/3-4DE, Villanova (WOR)
    Carl Lawson, DE/3-4OLB, Auburn (COM)
    Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson (COM)
    Raekwon McMillan^, ILB, Ohio State (PRI, WOR)
    Leon McQuay III, S, USC (EW)
    Carroll Phillips, OLB/DE/3-4OLB, Illinois (SR)
    Victor Salako, OT, Oklahoma State (WOR)
    Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova (WOR)
    Sam Tevi, OT, Utah (PRO)
    Jahad Thomas, RB, Temple (COM)
    Josh Tupou, DT, Colorado (EW)
    T.J. Watt, OLB/3-4OLB/ILB, Wisconsin (WOR)
    Eric Wilson, ILB, Cincinnati (WOR)
    Chris Wormley, DT/DE/3-4DE, Michigan (SR)
    Deangelo Yancey, WR, Purdue (WOR)

    Read more at http://walterfootball.com/prospectMeetings/byteam#H2hveqrMZXLZIYfI.99

    You can add the latest visit of Cameron Sutton to that list as well

    • Russell says:

      Interesting group; possible draft choices; Delano hill, Carroll Phillips, Eric Wilson, Chris Wormley, maybe Sutton but small hands& Arms.
      Undrafted guys signed after the draft; Josh Tupou, Jimmie Gilbert , Jahad Thomas and OT or two.

  10. Stephen J says:

    ProFootballTalk

    CB Cameron Sutton of Tenn had private work out with Pats

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/04/05/cam-sutton-catches-patriots-interest/

    • Stephen J says:

      Similar size to Damontae Kazee with similar test scores the one thing that I couldn’t find on Kazee that the Pats like with Sutton is his 3 cone time. The 3 cone is used as a good measurement for the slot CB where Sutton and Kazee would likely play due to their short arm length and so so Verticals

      • Stephen J says:

        Damontae Kazee…………….Cameron Sutton
        5’10″…………………………..5’11”
        184 lbs………………………..188 lbs
        30 7/8″ Arm Length………….30″
        8 5/8″ Hand Size…………..8 1/4″
        4.54 40 time………………4.52
        11 Bench……………….11
        34″ Vertical……………..34″
        10’4″(120″)Broad……………10′(120″)
        ???? 3 Cone……………..6.81

        • Stephen J says:

          Just came across this as well

          Another time that is looked at for Slot CB’s and Slot WR’s is the 20 shuttle
          well found Cameron Suttons Pro Day Shuttle time of 4.15. Ideally you like to see it under 4.10 but the high range seems to be that 4.15-4.25 range
          Also he ran the 3 cone again but this time of 7.09 not nearly as good as his combine of 6.81

        • steve earle says:

          Gil Brant has Kazee three cone at SDSU pro day at 7.11. Could be better but Kazee is aggressive fearless tackler and had 17 int’s. Both attractive traits.

      • Stephen J says:

        Good Job Steve thanks

        • Stephen J says:

          Just looked to see if Gil Brandt listed his 20(short) shuttle time as well. He did 4.50 ouch

        • steve earle says:

          That would be 4.50 Stephen. I just got lucky but your welcome.

        • steve earle says:

          Oh you had it already, I should read the whole sentence. Yea Ouch! about a second slow. How in the world did he make 17 int’s.? Just don’t know how to eval this?

        • Ryan says:

          Pro Day Results:
          Height: 5096
          Weight: 187
          40 Yrd Dash: 4.62
          20 Yrd Dash: 2.75
          10 Yrd Dash: 1.62
          225 Lb. Bench Reps: 13
          Vertical Jump: 33 1/2
          Broad Jump: 09’10”
          20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.27
          3-Cone Drill: 7.20

          That’s Malcolm Butler, right there. Physical and athletic guidelines are only a part of an evaluation for a player, and their correlation to a player’s success is not always very strong. I think Kazee is a good player, and his poor testing dropped him from the fourth to the fifth round IMO, but he still has great instincts and good coverage ability.

        • Stephen J says:

          Malcolm Butler’s Pro Day numbers were off that is why the Patriots had a private workout with him and they were much different.

        • Stephen J says:

          Kazee played on the outside which helped to limit that area of his game also Kazee is better in zone to hide cover those weaknesses where the Pats mix it up but do a lot of man coverage where he would be exposed on the inside. Yes he has excellent ball awareness and will be a good CB in the right scheme that will use his strengths and limit his weakness

        • Stephen J says:

          While Kazee may end up being player someone like Sutton maybe the better fit for what the Pats do.

        • Stephen J says:

          **being better player**

        • Stephen J says:

          Personally Ryan I like Kazee myself. He is smart instinctive great tackler when he has/takes the proper angles. Now if it weren’t for those times or sizes he’d be going in the 2nd round in this talented and deep class but because of those I see him going in the 3rd to 4th.

  11. Stephen J says:

    This tidbit from PFF

    Derek Barnett has had private workouts with Pats, Saints, Bengals, and Titans per source.

    Hmm doubt he falls to pick 72.

    • Stephen J says:

      Opps from(PFT)ProFootballTalk not PFF(ProFootballFocus)

    • Russell says:

      Saints could still trade 1st Pick; #11 to Patriots for Butler & 3d #96, allowing Patriots to get Barnett. Check out my NL Mock Draft at footballnation.net !

      • steve earle says:

        Maybe but couldn’t that have already happened if N.O. were willing to part with #11 pick? Even if they wanted Butler for one yr at 3.9 they would be in the same position Pat’s will be in next yr if he stays with us. Can’t see the advantage to N.O.

      • Mike Gerken says:

        Side note here Russell, but I have tried to post comments over at footballnation for you, but I keep getting an error. It has something to do with the captcha I think. Not sure if it is on the site or my computer that is the issue, but just wanted to let you know.

  12. Stephen J says:

    Interesting

    John Schneider to “Brock and Salk” on the Richard Sherman situation: “What you’ve seen lately in the news is real. That’s on both sides.”

    Could Butler stay this year and Sherman come in next. Could there be a player for player swap Butler for Sherman or has that train passed since we signed Gilmore.

  13. Stephen J says:

    This from Doug Kyed

    UNH RB Dalton Crossan worked out for the Patriots. Impressive pro day: 4.46 40, 6.84 3-cone, 4.06 shuttle, 35″ vert, 10-2 broad at 5-11, 204

    He also mentions that he is a lacrosse guy.

    Pats love those RB’s with those type of 3 cone times more so than 40 times

  14. Stephen J says:

    Per Aaron Wilson

    BYU guard Andrew Eide has met with the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, according to a source

    • steve earle says:

      I like everything I read about Eide as a day three pick for us. He has that ability BB loves, to play all the line positions. and should develope well under the coaching of Scar. Glad to hear there is some intrest on part of Pat’s.

  15. Stephen J says:

    What do you guys/gals think about a player for player swap in the draft. Like what happened with Blount. Could it be LG again once he has signed or could it be Dion Lewis. I say this because we have a plethora of RB’s who have expiring contracts so why not trade one who might have some interest where you can pick up another player or late round draft pick. Your thoughts on any other possibilities.

    • Russell says:

      Patriots should go get free agent RB Antonio Andrews (Titans) 5’10” 225 lbs, and cost should be low.

      • steve earle says:

        Checked out Andrews stats but nothing jumped out at me. What are you seeing that I’m not?

        • Russell says:

          Andrews is a smart guy, who follows his blocker as the play calls for, no add-lbing. Smaller school guy needs more reps.

  16. Ryan says:

    First mock of the year- I’ll probably do one more before the draft. Malcolm Butler’s situation isn’t resolved, but I’m going to assume that he plays this year on a one-year deal and then leaves.

    Third round — No. 72 (from Panthers): Jordan Willis, DE. Willis might not be here, but he just might, and the Patriots need a dynamic pass-rusher. He’s the ideal pick here.
    Third round — No. 96: Justin Evans, SS. Evans has fallen a bit given his performance in the past year, but he’s legitimately talented and he hits hard. Give him a year behind Patrick Chung to prove himself on special teams and he could blossom into a great all-around player.
    Fourth round — No. 131: Erik Magnuson, OG/OT. The Pats could use another strong interior lineman, and while a lot of people want a more traditional tackle selection, there won’t be much to choose from when our picks roll around. Magnuson seems to be a safe pick as a solid, battle-tested player.
    Fifth round — No. 163 (from Broncos): Damontae Kazee, CB. If Butler leaves after this season, Kazee wouldn’t be a long shot to replace him. Kazee’s a playmaker with average athletic and physical traits whose track record merits a shot in the NFL.
    Fifth round — No. 183: Elijah Lee, OLB. Elijah Lee is a smaller linebacker who can fly, and while he’s a bit less athletic than recent successes Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones, he’s worth a flier in the fifth. He should be able to make plays all over the field, even if his light frame raises durability questions.
    Sixth round — No. 200 (from Colts): Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT/DE. Ledbetter is the type of guy Belicheck could have a lot of fun with. As a pass rusher who could stay around 280 and rush from the edge or bulk up and rush from the interior, he could make a name for himself as a situational piece in New England.
    Seventh round — No. 239 (from Lions): Tanner Gentry, WR. This guy had a great senior season for Wyoming and had a great pro day as well, proving that he is at least an average NFL athlete. I could see him taking over the slot position in a few years, if he can stick. His 3-cone is the only drawback I see, but in the seventh round there are enough things to like about Gentry that mitigate his poor timing there.

    • Ryan says:

      Forgot to mention, but Blount is apparently close to signing, and I can’t see Burkhead or White being cut any time soon. Factor in Dion Lewis, and it doesn’t seem like the year to grab a running back. An exception could be made for Kareem Hunt, but besides that I’m not favor of using a pick on a guy who’s unlikely to make an impact.

      • J H TARBORO says:

        C’mon Ryan, no RB in your mock!

        • Ryan says:

          I don’t want five RBs on the roster. Crazy, right?

        • macspak says:

          I think drafting a RB is a tough call. 50/50 maybe, or less if the value is not there, and I see much more pressing needs with our higher picks. Instead I see BB bringing 3 or 4 UDFA RB’s to camp and see what happens.

          Doesn’t anybody else get the feeling that Burkhead is more a replacement for Lewis than Blount or some other bigger back?

        • Stephen J says:

          Yes Mac I feel BB has seen enough of the Dion Lewis experiment. Love his big play ability but between injuries and fumbles it maybe the end of the line.

        • J H TARBORO says:

          6-7 RBs make up a training camp!

        • Ryan says:

          I have nothing against signing some RBs as UDFAs. But with Lewis, White, Blount, and now Burkhead, I’m not sure that anyone we draft would make the roster. So, I’m hesitant to spend draft capital at the position.

      • steve earle says:

        Some really good prospects in your mock. Would be great to get DE Willis at #72 !!! Russell doesn’t like Kazee CB (short arms), well yea but day three CB’s are day three for reasons but Kazee is a tough defender, cover or run. Good pick imo !
        Hey I hadn’t heard Blount is close to signing. Got any more info on that?

        • Ryan says:

          Nope, just a shady NFL.com article about mutual interest. I re-read it after this and it’s nothing definite, but it’s my gut feeling that he’ll resign for cheap since he hasn’t cashed in anywhere. We’ll see how it shakes out, but if he signs somewhere else before the draft I’d certainly be open to a Samaje Perine-type player.

    • Russell says:

      Good looking draft Ryan. It looks like Willis is going in the top 40 players drafted. DE Ledbetter is an interesting prospect ! CB Kazce has short arms 30″, would like to see close to 32″in a CB prospect. Love Magnusom who is a great fit for the Patriots.
      This years draft will be the most difficult to project in years. Two prospects I think the Patriots will try to get are; S- Delano Hill, & LB Eric Wilson.

      • Ryan says:

        I agree with you about the difficulty in predicting this year’s draft. Hill and Wilson are both guys that I’d like to see in a Pats uniform, but there a ton of mid-round options at safety and linebacker and BB is even harder to predict than the draft.

      • steve earle says:

        Have a question Russell. Like Wilson’s speed at LB but we know he is smaller then BB likes his LB’s and we have Roberts already so my question is how do those two compare and would there be room for two smaller LB’s?

      • Ryan says:

        Russell, I found a second opinion on Willis from WalterFootball:

        “After Willis’ huge combine, some analysts were projecting the Kansas State product to be a first-round pick. WalterFootball.com reached out to teams to see if they were pushing his grade into the Thursday night range, and all five teams said they had Willis as mid second-day selection.

        The highest projection came from a NFC team picking in the top 20. They could consider taking a pass-rusher in the second round and said they had Willis as a mid second-rounder. One general manager of a NFC team known for its tough grading said they had Willis as a fourth-/fifth-round pick. Two teams said they had Willis as “2/3;” a late second- or early third-round pick. Another AFC team said they had Willis as a third-rounder.”

        Unless all of these teams are trying to downplay Willis’ value, I wouldn’t put Willis out of our range just yet. While I think that he’ll probably go in the 50-70 range, I think that there is still a legitimate chance that he drops to us. We’ll see how true that is come draft day.

  17. Stephen J says:

    Mike

    What do you know about

    Towson_FB star RB Darius Victor’s final stats:

    41 Games
    41 Rushing Touchdowns
    3,309 Rushing Yards
    5.2 Yards Per Rush

    Here is his career highlights

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON0HEncuYDA

    • Stephen J says:

      He had a Pro Day last week on the 30th but haven’t been able to find any results outside of this video

      https://twitter.com/Towson_TSN/status/847488318191280132

    • Stephen J says:

      He has 3 lost fumbles in nearly 700 touches with 2 of those coming in his rookie season. In his rookie season he had nearly 100 touches. So 1 lost fumble in nearly 600 touches the last three seasons is approaching Kareem Hunt territory. People have said that he reminds them of Maurice Drew Jones. He had a toe injury which caused him to miss games last year but is now healthy again.

    • Stephen J says:

      More on RB Darius Victor from Towson

      This from Emory Hunt
      Former @Towson_FB RB Darius Victor is one sleeper #NFLDraft prospect to keep an eye on. A Fire Hydrant w/explosiveness.

      Aaron Wilson reported Ravens’ local workout included Marshall WR Deon-Tay McManus, Towson RB Darius Victor

      Gil Brandt reported on two players from the Towson Pro Day but Darius Victor was not one of them. Two teams were present at Towson’s Pro Day

      Also put up 22 reps on the bench but would rather have a 3 cone and 20 shuttle time

      Watched Towson vs USF He is not a barn burner he is more of a power runner who because of his low center of gravity and thick build is tough to bring down one on one, even when guys go low on him because of his thickness he usually knocks them of balance or runs right over them. He can move through tiny holes, he can cut in a small area to change direction. Has a nasty stiff arm. Although he can catch the ball its not fluid. The one thing that might hurt him is I didn’t seem him play any special teams during this game or the stats meaning PR/KR.

  18. Stephen J says:

    JoJo Mathis has a personal work out planned for next Monday. Dropped down to 250

    https://twitter.com/jayy_smooth5/status/849409532929478656

  19. GM-In-Training says:

    Here’s a question about wheeling and dealing and cap management.

    Cleveland is on the hook for Brock Osweiler’s $16M 2017 salary, and looking for a trade partner to get another pick for their $16M. What is the best way for Cleveland to maximize their situation?

    1. They could cut Osweiler. No additional picks. Cost = $16M.
    2. They could try to trade Brock on his existing contract…but not likely to happen.

    …and here’s my question:
    3. Could Cleveland sign Osweiler to a 1-year $16.2M contract, for veteran minimum plus a big signing bonus, then immediately trade him to a team that would give up a draft pick to have Osweiler as a backup for 1 year at Veteran Minimum?

    Would the new team be on the hook for the signing bonus? If so, is there some other way for Cleveland to eat enough of Brock’s $16M to make him worth a late round pick to team that needs QB depth, and thinks they can put Osweiler in a situation that would make best use of his tools?

    • Jeff says:

      I think once you give out a bonus, you’re on the hook for that cap hit, so the team you trade to would only be on the hook for the salary. I love the creativity, that will certainly be a wild development if it happens. That’s the kind of thing that there would be a rule change to stop it if Bill did it.

  20. Stephen J says:

    PFF’s RB Blocking Rankings

    D Foreman
    J Williams
    J McNichols
    E Hood
    B Hill
    L Fournette
    W Gallman
    J Mixon
    C McCaffrey
    TJ Logan
    K Hunt
    M Dayes

  21. Stephen J says:

    PFF’s RB Receiving Rankings

    J Mixon
    C Samuel
    K Hunt
    I Mathers
    A Kamara
    C McCaffrey
    J Conner
    J McNichols
    M Mack
    E McGuire
    S Perine
    A Jones

  22. steve earle says:

    Lawrence Guy DE signs with Pat’s. ? $20 mil x 4yrs. Well BB just messed up my last mock, again!

    • steve earle says:

      Hay wait! Isn’t this the guy they signed a couple weeks ago? How come it’s being presented like it something new???? Heck my mock is still good anyway.

  23. rob says:

    April 4th try at a mock draft.

    3 Daeshon Hall DE
    3 Josh Jones S
    4 Cameron Sutton CB
    5 Terrel Basham DE
    5 Javorios Leamon OT
    6 Harvey Langii ILB ( because bill likes him)
    7 Jahed Thomas RB

    UDFA-
    Austin Carr WR
    Riley Sorenson C
    T.J.Holloman ILB

    • steve earle says:

      I like your mock pretty well rob though not crazy about CB Sutton. Guy has short arms and not strong in run support so may not be the best fit for Pat’s. Still most of the high ranked CB’s will have gone by this point so pickings are slim. I like OT Leamon too but for me a little later otherwise you did your homework, A-

    • Jeff says:

      That would be a great haul for a draft with no picks in the top 2! Hard to complain about that, though I’ve seen Basham projected in the round 2 range or 3 for the most part, but if they can get him there, great! I like the idea of grabbing a cornerback in a year with a good DB crop, but there’s not a lot of space on the roster for that spot unless someone is traded away.

      • steve earle says:

        Good point about the tight fit at the CB spot but bringing in another CB day three for insurance in case C. Jones doesn’t show serious improvement over last year isn’t totally a bad idea.

  24. C M Dale says:

    James Conner is my choice. Quality big back with a lot of room to grow following his rebound from cancer.

    • Matt says:

      I like Connor as well. Any ideas on what round he might go in? I really hope the Pats draft him.

  25. Stephen J says:

    Riley McCarron is he worthy of a Undrafted Free Agent signing you tell me.

    It’s has become a common occurrence that we easily give up on people due to ill conceived ideas or bad experiences we’ve had and project it on to others without doing a little bit of research.

    Well when I see someone that puts up a time(s) where only 5 others have done better. Yes that grabs my attention. Now it grabs my attention but doesn’t say I’m sold on this player because of that one thing(s). Then we turn to things such as production/stats and those that are more fanatic tape. Then when they don’t match our idea/concept many of us say next and move on.

    Well I’m here to show you why that can be the case with certain individuals but that may not be the case here. Sometimes production is not always seen at least at first or the way we are initially thinking.

    Those are superb stats before you factor in McCarron didn’t train full-time for pro day. He works for an accounting company and was given the day off to go through the drills(land of 10 dot com)

    That should start to paint a picture. Lets continue painting the picture shall we. To help me paint this picture I am going to reference/highlight this article. https://www.landof10.com/iowa/how-riley-mccarrons-hatred-of-losing-turned-him-into-a-starting-wr

    High School Years

    A star RB in high school who volunteered to change positions to QB because there was a team need, nobody else did and he felt that would give them the best chance of winning
    Think about that for a second if you were The Star RB would you volunteer to switch positions.

    Former coaches say he is intense, he is driven, and he hates defeat
    He has a quiet demeanor about him off the field, but once he steps on the field he is intense and it’s business and he does not like to lose,” Wahlert athletic director Tom English said. “That is the thing I remember the most about him.”

    “McCarron only does something to excel at it. He is not going to be satisfied with half-speed,” English said. “He doesn’t want pretty good.”

    “He had that unique trait of having the toughness and the physicality that most kids that are that quick and fast don’t have,” English said.

    He rushed for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. Any concern about his throwing ability quickly disappeared as a senior. McCarron threw for 1,749 yards. He rushed for 866 more while scoring 22 total touchdowns.
    His attitude is Competition is fun.

    College Years

    At 5’9″ he didn’t receive scholarships from any major program but Iowa offered him a chance as a walk on.

    When he arrived there C.J. Beathard Iowas QB said McCarron “Didn’t really know the offense at all,” he barely understood where to go.

    McCarron first made an impact on special teams. He returned punts in 2014.

    In 2015 He was offered a scholarship and started 1 game. That season he had 5 receptions for 56 yards and 1 TD.

    In 2016 He began the season as a starter behind Matt VandeBerg on the depth chart( who had nearly half of Iowa’s passing game targets and he accounted for 36.0 percent of Iowa’s receiving yards.)

    Once VandeBerg went down with a foot injury Riley became the go to guy and ended up being the leading receiver for Iowa with 42 receptions 517 yards and 4 TD’s. Not blow you away numbers but for his 1st full year as a starter they are ok. Remember Julian Edelman
    didn’t start putting up great numbers until his 4th year from transitioning from QB.

    Here are some quotes from Desmond King about Riley from the article

    “He tries to win every rep at receiver and that is what we need out of our receivers at all times, We look for someone that will go out there and compete at any time.”

    According to King, there are two ways for a shorter receiver to get open. First, it’s being quick or elusive. McCarron is certainly that. His first step out of a break can catch a defender off guard, like it did on his 30-yard touchdown reception against North Dakota State.
    The second is making a play on the football. “He plays big and he loves to go up and get the ball at the highest point,” King said. That is where his Vert of 40 1/2″ comes into play.

    “He can run by you,” Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said. “He can make some good cuts on you.

    It comes together in a player that Ferentz calls an unsung hero, one he couldn’t help but put into the starting lineup to begin the season.

    Coach Ferentz has this to say about Riley “Winning against good defensive guys,” “We’ve seen that in practice, which is really impressive, and he couldn’t have done that a year ago at this time I don’t think.”

    So while he didn’t put up eye popping numbers here is a kid who is transitioning from QB like Julian Eldelman and has the tools. He could be brought in as an Undrafted Free Agent placed on the Practice Squad to learn/develop for that 1st year.

    If that is not enough there is this from the telegraphherald.com

    Iowa special teams coordinator Chris White smiles noticeably as he hears the name Riley McCarron
    What is it about an undersized former walk-on receiver who worked his way up through special teams that endears him to every coach he comes across? There’s a laundry list of reasons.
    “He gets it,” White said “He understands football. He’s a football-aware guy. He’s got great hands and he’s tough as hell. He’s not afraid to go in there and whack a safety on an inside run and he’s not afraid to go block someone on kickoff returns. He’s a winner and he’s a competitor.
    Now get this quote from Riley himself
    I just try to come out each day and be a dependable guy, whether that’s catching passes, blocking on the perimeter or just being a guy they can count on to do their job on any given play.

    This from receivers coach Bobby Kennedy If you can play, you can play. And he’s a guy that can play. In regards to his height he says Height is just a measurement, one easily made up for with persistent attention to detail and making sure the fundamentals are exactly right. Kennedy also says He’s such a bright guy that he kind of knows the seams to hit. He ran a great route last year where he caught it in the end zone at Iowa State. He ran a great, we call it Pump 5, and part of the reason he did such a good job, is because his technique was really good.
    This from his former QB. He’s a guy that’s very accountable,” Beathard said. “I know where he’s going to be. He runs the right routes, right spacing, all that kind of stuff. He does a great job (running routes). He runs them really well. He’s one of the best route runners on the team. That’s impressive coming from the guy who said he barely understood where to go when he first arrived.

    Both White and Kennedy mentioned McCarron’s work ethic as a reason for his success. Kennedy said. “And to me the great thing about Riley is that he’s willing to do anything we ask him, whether it’s blocking, whether it’s receiving, whether it’s special teams — he’s been such a big part of our special teams and then it blossomed into the receiver spot.

    Other notables I came across

    Desmond King and Riley McCarron, were PFF’s hightest rated coverage/return guys for Iowa

    Comparison size wise Steve Smith 5’9” 184 lbs

    Big Ten PUNT RETURNS champ:
    21.1 ypr Riley McCarron, Iowa

    Now will all that be enough. I don’t know. This years crop is deep but I’d thought I would dig deeper to get a better understanding why someone with those ridiculous across the board test scores wasn’t getting more attention. Will he be someone that years down the road we say how did he fall through the cracks and how did we not see him being this good. Only time will tell.

    • Russell says:

      well done report ! A safe 7th round pick, as a returner the Patriots need.

      • Stephen J says:

        Thanks Russell

        I was thinking of him as a Priority Undrafted Free Agent due to the depth of the draft but noticed all the WR’s selected in the 7th round. 2016 Deven Lucien 2014 Jeremy Gallon 2012 Jeremy Ebert. All even numbered years and guys named Jeremy hmm.

  26. macspak says:

    So, room is retiring, for now, which in some circles resurrects the worth of JG and under what scenario a trade may unfold, with whom and for what. Thoughts?

    I believe based upon the value to be received he should be traded. It is more risky to keep him and lose that value than to trade him and lose him as a back-up. Still think Cleveland. Likely scenario is we get closer to draft day, but not day of draft, and BB and Casserio finally get serious and have conversations with Cleveland. I think #12 and 33 this year, maybe a lower 2nd round, with a couple seconds next year, or a 2nd and a 3rd. I even would ask Cleveland to throw in their 4th this year so we can use the one from NO as we forsake the higher 4th from Cleveland giving two 4th round picks in this year’s deep draft. A condition of a trade may even be that BB allows Cleveland to first discuss contract with JG and his agent.

    I suppose with room retiring Houston may be back in the hunt but they just don’t have the ammo to make it happen.

    My thought all along has been the value is greatest now and then reverts to a 3rd comp pick down the road. However, maybe the Pats are hoarding all their cap space to carry over to next year, when they also should have ample space, so they can franchise and then trade JG. Not sure the value would be the same but it would ne higher than a comp 3rd.

    • Russell says:

      If the Patriots Franchise Garoppolo next yr. (2016 cost $19.9 mil.) Garoppolo must sign tag, before you can trade him, then the team that gets him must pay him the Tag money for that yr. UNLIKELY
      The Patriots could (now) offer Garoppolo a contract extension, paying him more this yr. say $3 to 6 mil. (Now $800K) and extend his deal until 2019; OR ; make him a restricted free agent in 2018, allowing the Patriots to get a 2nd round pick, (where he was drafted) if a team offers him a contract sheet next yr. POSSIBLE if Garoppolo wants more money this yr. in his back-up role.

      • macspak says:

        A possibility but I can’t see JG doing that because he stands to make so much more as a FA, or if tagged. It would be good for the Patriots but not in JG’s self interest monetarily of professionally.

        I think his value to the Patriots is maximized THIS year of traded. I threw in option 2 simply as an alternative that is possible if not probable.

    • Russell says:

      With Romo retiring Houston is the big loser. Their Defense is pay-off caliber NOW, but with out a QB their team is 8-8.
      Houston could try to get Garoppolo, by trading a player & picks. Whitney Mercilus 26 $6.5 mil. until 2020;- plus a 1st this year #25, and 3d next year.
      HOWEVER
      BB saw what happened to Oakland last year when their QB went down going into the play-offs, and for the best of the team Garoppolo has value this yr. Then losing Garoppolo next yr. for a Compensatory pick in 2019.

  27. J H TARBORO says:

    Others to add to your list
    Chris Carson- Oklahoma state 6’0″ 230
    Matthew Dates-NC state 5’11” 195 (One of the best RBs at the Senior Bowl)
    UDFAs
    Taquan Mizzell-Virginia 5’10 195 (The best RB at the NFLPA Bowl)
    Leonard Tillery- Southern 5’11 200 (NFLPA Bowl standout!
    William Stanback-UCF 6’0″” 235 ( “Bruiser”with special teams value)

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Temple’s Jahad Thomas 5’10 190 UDFA I like this kid a lot, not very fast but has functional football speed, love his running style and he makes opponents miss. Also a Patriot draft contact.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      All good names. None of them received draftable grades except Dayes but here is how they ranked out for me.
      Dayes-has a 6th round grade, but I don’t see between the tackles potential with him and while a good pass catcher, not good enough to make my board. Got keep the numbers down.
      Mizzell
      Carson
      Thomas
      Tillery
      Stanback

      • J H TARBORO says:

        OK Mike, Why no Marlon Mack?

        • Mike Gerken says:

          Just a numbers game really. Love his speed and love his COD, but he tried to bounce everything outside. I worry about patience and vision with him. Add the fumbling issues and I left him off the list. He was hands down the hardest to leave off the list, but I think he is right there with the other 4th round guys and if he ends up being a Patriot, I would have no qualms with it, as long as its not too early.

  28. J H TARBORO says:

    Tarik “The human joystick” Cohen, love watching this kid, he’s a homerun hitter with the ball in his hands, if the Pats were to bring him in, Dion Lewis should definitely be afraid, and possibly training camp competition and Lewis insurance!

  29. J H TARBORO says:

    Based on the Combine metrics no RB over 235lbs has run under 4.5 in the 40. D’Onta Foreman with a pair of 4.45 at Texas pro, I really believe he should be the back that the Pats should target, he’s a man-child that hasn’t developed in to his mature body yet, he would fit well with the given rotation of RBs on the roster right now. Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears would work wonders with this kid and he runs the ball harder than L.Blount!

  30. Turbo says:

    I like the board and i agree with most of the stuff, but the two thing i see different is Foreman and McGuire. I think Foreman after his pro day is going to be a mid/late 3rd rounder maybe and McGuire probably a 5th-6th.

  31. Russell says:

    The RB position is the hardest to project Patriots draft move hands down. I feel the Patriots don’t draft a RB in this years draft.
    Bringing Peterson in for a look was nothing more then telling Blount’s agent, “the Patriots are looking at other options.” If Blount agrees to a 1 yr deal, for $1mil. the Patriots resign him.

  32. Ryan says:

    That whole fetal position thing happened to me with Deone Bucannon a few years back. But hey, at least we got Dominique Easley, so everything worked out!

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