With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.
It's no secret that the Patriots need help in their run game. Fred Taylor has some gas in the tank, but who knows for how long. Sammy Morris runs on low mileage, but he's injury prone. Laurence Maroney is erratic as a performer. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is unproven. Kevin Faulk is the only back every Patriots fan can fully support and trust. While our committee may appear to be full, it's never too early to start switching some pieces with youth. Morris may the be the first to go if we start the youth movement, so looking for his replacement would be a good idea.
Stanford RB Toby Gerhart took the nation by storm this past season, leading the league in yards. In comparison, the two yardage leaders in '08 were the Colts' Donald Brown and the Jets' Shonn Greene. In '07, the top three yardage leaders were the Lions' Kevin Smith, the Bears' Matt Forte and the Ravens' Ray Rice. While yards gained may not be the best measure of NFL success, it appears to hold at least some weight. Gerhart is a big back who can gain the small yards and can run well in the red zone. If Gerhart is selected by the Patriots, perhaps he and Maroney could form a solid tandem and give us a solid running game that we haven't been able to trust for a while.
His measurements and some quotes after the jump.
Height: 6-0. Weight: 231.
Projected 40 Time: 4.60.
Combine 40 Time: 4.53.
Benchx225: 22. Vertical: 38. Broad: 9-10.
Very big frame Excellent lower body strength Powerful runner Terrific short-yardage runner Highly competitive Good character and work ethic Can handle the load Solid in pass protection with awareness
Average speed and athleticism No agility or change of direction Not elusive in open field - won't avoid oncoming tacklers Doesn't have many moves outside of stiff arm
03/19/2010 - Toby Gerhart's credentials as a power back are pretty much beyond debate. And after being timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, he feels he put to rest any concerns about his speed. On Thursday he took part in Pro Timing Day at Stanford, another session in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams in an attempt to prove that he's the total package. Hands were the issue this time. "I didn't catch a whole lot of passes at Stanford," Gerhart said. "There were questions about my pass-catching ability. It's a big thing in the NFL, being able to catch balls coming out of the backfield. I wanted to show I can catch the ball." So Gerhart went through a series of drills designed to illustrate his pass-catching skills. He ran the kind of short routes expected out of NFL running backs, catching passes thrown by former Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard. And he went through specialized drills conducted by longtime Cincinnati Bengals running-backs coach Jim Anderson, having balls fired at him in rapid succession from short distances as he moved laterally. "I think it went well," Gerhart said. "I dropped one ball, which got me mad. But I think I showed I can run and catch it." - By Glenn Reeves, Bay Area News Group
Gerhart is a big, powerful ball carrier that has just enough speed to be a threat. He runs with a good pad level and consistently breaks through first contact and gets a lot of his yards after initial contact. He seems to get stronger as the game wears on and defenses visibly grow weary of trying to take him on in the latter parts of the game. He knows how to follow his blockers and is patient as he waits for the hole to open up. He is an effective receiver out of the backfield and, while he is not apt to be used as a downfield threat, he can move the chains in the short to intermediate passing game.
Final Word: Despite spending four years at Stanford, Gerhart is considered an underclassman in draft standards because of a medical redshirt he used in 2007 as a result of a torn ACL in his left knee. Considering his upright running style and his disadvantage off the bat when it comes to NFL athleticism, teams will approach the All American’s draft status with caution. There is not doubt he has the ability to break tackles and gain yards after contact, two vital components to the running back position in the NFL, but his already damaged knee and lack of top tier athleticism will downgrade his stock. He will best be used in a system that allows him to carry the ball in certain situations rather then being depended upon to carry the ball every down. His intangibles are top notch and he is both a dedicated and accomplished two sport athlete that will enter the league as a guy that every coach wants on the field on way or another. He will get a shot as a tailback, but has the body and physicality to make the move to fullback in a pinch. If he works out well, Gerhart could be a top 45 selection.
Verdict: As a Patriots fan, you have to acknowledge that selecting a running back in the draft means that we're picking a role player- not a full time starter. Our committee is run by role players and Gerhart appears to fill a role extremely well. A backfield of Gerhart, Maroney and Faulk would be a formidable trio that can have all facets of the running back game covered. Gerhart is most likely going to be selected in the 2nd-4th round, which means we'll probably have to trade draft picks if we want to grab him with maximum value. Is he worth a 3rd or 4th? I'd say yes. A 2nd? I'm not so sure. I would love to have a player like Gerhart on the team- it's just a matter of whether the role he'll fill is worth an early-mid draft pick.