Breaking Down the Backs: Eric Kettani

I couldn't find any pictures of Eric Kettani, so you get whatever the hell this is instead. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Eric Kettani is currently neck and neck with Nate Ebner in the competition for the "My Favorite Patriot Who Has Yet to Play a Single Snap" Award. He already has all the respect I could ever give a man for his service in the Navy, but the more I read about him, the more likable he becomes. He just seems like an all-around good guy who always puts others before self and will always do everything he can to be sure he is in the best position possible to make a positive contribution to his team.

Football is a business, though, and being a good guy can only get you so far. While his Navy connection certainly can't hurt him in the eyes of Bill Belichick, the truth of the matter is that competition at his position is stiff and as of right now he is little more than an untested player fresh off winning his appeal with the Navy. While Kettani is really more of a fullback, he is currently listed as a running back on the Patriots roster, and is therefore in the discussion. Another long shot to make the team, Kettani does bring a unique skillset to the New England backfield and could very well be seen as a project for the coaching staff that will pay off a season or two from now.

Strengths: Big, powerful back with tremendous speed for his size. Freakishly athletic; ran a 4.59 40 at 233 lbs., benches 400 lbs., cleans 335 lbs., and has a 32 inch vertical. Averaged 5.4 YPC for his career. Navy background means discipline, toughness, impeccable character, and unmatchable work ethic. Could be phenomenal in goal line jumbo packages. Great interior runner. Dual threat as a running back and blocking fullback.

Weaknesses: Only ran in an option-based attack and fairly unfamiliar with a pro-style offense. Has virtually zero experience as a pass catcher or a pass blocker. Very one dimensional as a runner.

How will the Patriots use him? If Bill Belichick didn't have a plan for Kettani, he wouldn't have fought so hard for him and spoken so highly of him during his lengthy appeal. While I can't see Kettani making much of a splash in what is essentially his first year in the league, his physical attributes and his work ethic makes him the exact kind of guy the Patriots feel comfortable investing some time in to pay dividends down the road. The signing of fullbacks Spencer Larsen and Tony Fiammetta could signify a shift in offensive philosophy moving forward, and if the Patriots decide to get back to the power run game that relies on big, bruising guys to establish the run and make the passing game more effective, then Kettani is exactly the kind of guy the Patriots want on their roster.

How will his season play out? Signed as the practice squad fullback and groomed to take over for either Larsen or Fiammetta, depending on Kettani's progress as an all-around player and whether the Patriots continue to move forward with a fullback as a part of the base offense.

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