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.
Tennessee's Montario Hardesty would be a great compliment to our running back committee. He has the strength to be our short yardage back and the speed to be relied upon if our other backs get injured. He has risen quickly this off season with a phenomenal combine- but he has his senior year to support the off the field numbers. He was a workhorse running back on a team that lacked a consistent passing game, which means that defenses planned to stop him. While he only started for one year, and that's sure to count against him when the Patriots look at him, he has the talent and skill to work well in our RBBC.
His measurements and some quotes after the jump.
Height: 6-0. Weight: 225.
Projected 40 Time: 4.49.
Combine 40 Time: 4.49.
Benchx225: 21. Vertical: 41. Broad: 10-4.
02/28/2010 - Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty has chatted with the Titans, among other teams at the Combine. New Titans running backs coach Kennedy Pola "likes how I run," Hardesty said. Hardesty, who ran for 1,345 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, is a load at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds. He's been compared to Marion Barber of the Cowboys and Clinton Portis of the Redskins. "I grew up a big fan of Walter Payton," he said. "But what I try and do is take all the things that I do well and let those show in the field.'' - Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean
12/08/2009 - 2009 ALL-SEC SECOND TEAM (COACHES): RB - Montario Hardesty, Tennessee, has been selected All-Southeastern Conference Second Team for the 2009 college football season as voted on by the SEC Coaches. Hardesty, a native of New Bern, N.C., ranked third in the league in rushing at 108.8 yards per game and scored 12 touchdowns, tops among SEC backs that only played 12 games. His season total of 1,308 rushing yards is fifth-best total in school history and 156 yards shy of the school record. - Tennessee football
Hardesty is an accomplished college runner that may struggle to bring the same kind of production to the next level. He is not quite big enough to be a power back and lacks the all out speed and explosion to be a game breaker. He does a good job of running behind his pads and shows balance on contact to break tackles and will fight for yards after the first hit. He shows a decent burst through the hole but lacks a second gear to pull away once he gets to the next level. He is a patient runner that does a good job of following his blockers and seeing things develop.
Final word: After sputtering along his first three years at Tennessee, Hardesty came on a senior. He ran for 1,308 yards on hte year and 12 touchdowns. Hardest ran for 2,536 yards in his career on 560 attempts (4.5 avg.). Also had 26 career rushing touchdowns. Finished with 38 career receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown. Twenty-five of his receptions came in 2009.
Hardesty's best asset is his power. He won't outrun many opponents, but he can run through them. He rates as high as he does because he combines his power with pass catching ability.
Still, he has an injury history that can't be ignored. Had a stress fracture in 2008, missed a lot of time in 2007 with ankle sprains and tore his ACL in high school. You also have to question Hardesty's ordinary play until his senior year.
Verdict: Hardesty seems like the perfect player for our offense. He can catch, he can run for the short yardage and he can carry the load. He could be the perfect player to replace Sammy Morris. Or he could replace Kevin Faulk. Regardless, there's a spot for Hardesty on our team. The only downfall is that his stock has risen so much, he is mostly likely a third round pick- or even a late second round selection. That means we'll either have to overdraft him, trade down, or hope he's still around in the 4th. If the Patriots end with Hardesty as a 4th round pick, I'll be a happy fan.