Running Back to the Future

Mark Ingram

Will the Patriots add a Heisman Trophy Winner to offset their future losses at running back?

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”  The Patriots stable of running backs after the 2010 season will certainly prove that point.

Five of the six current RB’s (Maroney, Taylor, Faulk, C. Taylor, Morris) on the Patriots roster will be an unrestricted free-agent after this season, and Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis will be a restricted free-agent.

Retirement could claim Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk, while Chris Taylor and Green-Ellis are really only depth players.  Therefore, the Patriots face a difficult decision with Laurence Maroney. We see the former first-round pick re-signing with the Pats, but it is a possibility that the cupboard could truly be bare heading into the 2011 NFL Draft.

However, due to some solid planning and shrewd trading on Bill Belichick’s part, the Patriots are in position to acquire some solid replacements with four picks in the first two rounds.  Here is a rough look at who the Patriots might have a chance to select next April.

Mark Ingram – Alabama – The reigning Heisman Trophy winner still has a year of eligibility if he chooses to use it, but we see him declaring at the end of this year.  He is undoubtedly the top running back prospect with an elite mix of speed, size, strength, and savvy.  If the Raiders perform poorly in 2010, there is a chance that he will still be available for to select.

Noel Devine – WVU – Devine is not a 3-down back, but could be a good replacement if Kevin Faulk decides to hang it up.  Lightning quick and a good receiver, Devine excels at making defenders miss.  Doesn’t block nearly as well as Faulk, which will need to change if he is to fit in the Patriots system.  Devine is also a talented kick returner.

Evan RoysterPSU – We’re not as high on Royster as most, but he is a dependable running back.  Royster was only 50% at converting “3rd and short” situations in 2009, which isn’t what the Patriots need. He was also shut-down against his two best opponents-Iowa and Ohio State-where he gained 105 yards on 30 carries combined.

Ryan Williams – Virginia Tech – Williams might be the best running back in the country this year.  Unfortunately, he will only be a redshirt sophomore.  While he is eligible for the draft, we think he will return for his junior season.  Incredible power and burst make this Hokie difficult to take down.

For more information on running back prospects, we have a large list of RB Scouting Reports that will continue to be updated and added to throughout the NCAA season.

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8 Responses to “Running Back to the Future”

  1. JimC says:

    Mark Ingram of Alabama would be a great pick. I would use the Raiders pick on him if he becomes available at that given slot.

  2. Jared says:

    Ingram IS a beast, but I think we will have a better idea of his NFL potential after this coming season. I, for one, am not 100% sold that Ingram is a futute top 5 NFL RB. Last year, he played on the most talented team in college football, and had a well-deserved great season. I f he has another Heisman Trophy-type season this year, i will have far less doubts.
    But even if all the chips feel how some wanted it to….Raiders suck bad enough to be in the top 5, Ingram has another stellar year,the Pats have a need for a RB, and he falls to them at the Raiders pick….I would be shocked to see Bill take him. I am a believer in not drafting a WR or RB in the top half of the first round..Why?… you say. They are too easy to come by via trade, free agency, or later in the draft. I believe you make your money picking position like QB,OL,DL,CB, or LB, when teams get a stud at one of those positions, its usually hard to pry them away(excl. R.Seymour). But WR’s and RB’s are routinely are added to playoff teams…for example-R.Moss & W.Welker, or A.Smith & C.Dillon at RB. Or even this year, two of our division rivals snatched top-flight WR’s for close to nothing-(Holmes and Marshall). Young, good players like those two WR’s, and RB-M.Lynch for the Bills become available yearly. This year there was a low in those type of guys, due to the lack of a cap. But still, top-flight talent at WR & RB were still moved, and there should be more next year.
    The best players for the Pats play offense, Brady,Moss,Welker….When they were winning SB rings, the bulk of their best players played defense. In my opinion, they need R.Seymour-type guy on their front 7. Someone to gameplan for, the landscape of needs could change if guys like Spikes and Cunningham play better than expected, but i’m not one to bank on rookies. As of now, my April,2011 list of needs for the Pats will be……

    1.Playmaker at 3-4 OLB, or 3-4 DE.
    2.WR/RB, lots of factors here…how the RB’s play this year, what RB’s they resign, and the big one…Does Mr.Moss resign?…because 2011could be the best WR class in years.
    3.The lesser-need between WR/RB….i say RB.
    4.Offensive line help.

    If I had to make some early predictions……

    Moss is gone.
    They resign Faulk, and one other veteran RB,(Taylor,Morris,or Maroney).
    Mankins gets traded 2 weeks before the opener.
    Brady gets franchised next season…(here we go again).
    Going into the draft, you have…

    Faulk, Maroney
    Welker, Edelman, Tate, Price
    Gronkowski, Hernandez

    I think with those skill-players. The Pats best bet, would be getting s STARTER at wideout, or running back via-free agency or trade. Then focus on the other position in the draft.


    • Ryan says:

      Once again I am going to have to agree. If we waste our first pick on a WR and RB I am personally going to be upset. Thomse Jones floated around this year, I also wouldn’t be suprised if the Bills cut a RB loose. The first pick needs to be OLB, DE or OL. Those are the positions that need to addressed in my opinion. There is to much uncertainty surrounding WR and RB. Its to easy to waste money on guys like Maroney.

      • NEPD says:

        I’m in both camps on this – The Patriots need some new blood at RB and possibly at WR depending on how Tate and Price develop. That said, the positions that are more difficult to fill through free agency are on defense.

        If there is a Quinn/Clayborn type talent available when the Patriots are on the clock, I can’t see them passing on them. That said, with 4 picks that high, the Patriots can afford a flyer on a RB or WR.

    • NEPD says:

      The 2011 WR class will be pretty sick, as long as they all declare. Green, Jones, Baldwin, and Floyd COULD all come back for another season, but I don’t see that happening. I think at least three of the four will declare.

  3. British Patriot says:

    I’d wait for Ryan WIlliams or Trent Richardson.

  4. PatriotsDraftGuru says:

    Ingram is a beast, but I think the Raiders pick isn’t going to be high enough.

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