Patriots' Prospects Week in Review: Running Backs

Preview

5. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State

4. Jordan Todman, UConn

3. Ryan Williams, VT

2. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama

After looking at these top five talents, it's clear that Ingram is the best prospect out of the bunch and he would be a great fit with the Patriots' offense. However, I believe he comes at much too steep of a price tag at the first half of the first round. The Patriots would be better off beefing up their linemen on both sides instead of taking Ingram, and just take a running back in the middle rounds. There are plenty of players who are draftable in the 3rd and 4th rounds (Todman, Hunter, DeMarco Murray, Shane Vereen, Delone Carter, etc) and I have to imagine that if the Patriots draft a running back, it would be one of these middle round prospects. My favorite is Todman, but arguments for Murray and Vereen are valid. I'm not a fan of Hunter, but there are plenty of prospects to take in the middle of the draft.

Let's look at some additional prospects after the jump!

Shane Vereen, California - Vereen is a fumble machine despite his strength, which blows the "bench press = ball security" theory out of the water. That said, he could be the "dash" portion of the Patriots' running backs. He's got a nose for extra yards and has the speed to turn the corner and get into the open field. He's a solid pass blocker and can catch the ball out of the backfield. If he could figure out his fumble problems, he'd be a solid pick in the 3rd or 4th round.

DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma - The best pass catching back in the draft, Murray can also run the ball extremely well. He's blazing fast and he knows how to get yards. He has to work on gaining yards in traffic, but he can't be caught in the open field. He can also pass block. Oh yeah, he's also extremely careful with the football. He's a viable option in the 3rd or 4th round.

Delone Carter, Syracuse - Carter's a big back who can move the pile. He's basically BenJarvus Green-Ellis, with more speed, better pass blocking ability, and lower decision making abilities. He's another 4th or 5th round pick, but I'm not positive if he'd be what the Patriots' are looking for.

Daniel Thomas, Kansas State - Thomas was an extremely productive runner, but his fundamentals are terrible. He's a former quarterback and runs like it- he's very upright and he's very loose with the football. I don't like him just based on his ball protection skills, but I seriously question his ability to run in the NFL. That said, he's got production at the college level, which counts for something. He's a 3rd or 4th round prospect.

Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington - The epitome of "dash" back, Jones would be a great change of pace back. However, he's under 200 pounds which limits him from doing anything else on the offense (ie: not a strong inside runner, won't push the pocket, won't be able to pass block). He's consistently injured, but he's a playmaker on the field. Jones is another 4th or 5th round pick.

Alex Green, Hawaii - While Green clocked a 4.45 in the 40 yard dash, I have a hard time believing that's his game speed because he was caught from behind a lot. He can get through the line of scrimmage very quickly, but his numbers are inflated a bit because of how many draw plays he ran out of the Hawaii shotgun. As a result of the Hawaii pass offense, he's a very capable receiver and pass blocker. I can see Green becoming an ideal form of BJGE; a player who won't be tackled for a loss (like BJGE), but also an able pass blocker and receiver. That makes him a three down back in the Patriots' offense. He won't be a superstar since he won't be able to outrun players in the NFL, but I could easily see him being a 1,000 yard rusher and 400 yard receiver in the Patriots' offense. Green is a 4th-to-6th round pick.

Roy Helu Jr., Nebraska - Helu is a running back. He runs the ball. He catches the ball out of the backfield. He doesn't really pass block. He's a solid rotational running back, but he's not excellent at anything. He could be a product of Nebraska's offense, but he excelled in both a passing offense (2009) and an option offense (2010), which means that can succeed in many offenses in the NFL. Helu has speed, but I question his ability to be a workhorse in the NFL. Look for him to be taken in the 4th-5th round by a team looking for a change of pace running back.

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This is a very deep draft when it comes to middle-round running backs, which is exactly what the Patriots could/should be looking for. I doubt the Patriots shell out the early pick to grab Ingram, Leshoure or Wiliams, and I'd be surprised if they took a back before the 3rd round. I think Green from Hawaii would be a good pick (solid call by Jack'sAxe), but don't expect him to be a revelation at the position. Green would be just another guy in the stable, an upgrade over Sammy Morris. I think Murray would be able to succeed with the Patriots and is a solid mid-round choice.

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