He's not the best runner. He's second best behind Stevan Ridley.
He's not the best receiver. He's second best behind Shane Vereen.
He's not the best blocker. He leaves you missing Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk.
He's not the most powerful back. LeGarrette Blount would steamroll him in the open field.
He's not a name you think of when you look at the Patriots offense. But maybe we should.
Brandon Bolden has the chance to be what the Patriots have been missing at running back.
In 2013, Bolden was given the opportunity to be the everything back for the Patriots. Stevan Ridley couldn't hold onto the ball or the starting position, Shane Vereen couldn't stay healthy, and LeGarrette Blount didn't truly emerge until the final stretch of the season.
Here are some numbers from Pro Football Focus:
Bolden saw the field for 195 passing plays, second to only Vereen. His 43 plays as a pass blocker led the team, although he allowed the most pressures.
He ran into his routes 152 times, second on the team to Vereen, as were his 0.93 yards per route run.
He averaged 1.80 yards after initial contact on his 75 touches, which ranks a poor 63rd out of 69 of players who averaged 4+ touches per game.
So who is Bolden? He's a third year undrafted veteran out of Mississippi, just like former back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The coaches believe him to be the most reliably versatile running back on the team, but they played him as the direct back-up to Shane Vereen. With Vereen out from Week 2 to Week 11, Bolden ranked second to Ridley over that time frame in snaps (231 to 218, both players missed one game). Blount was still a role player, tacking on 122 snaps.
He's a special teamer, he's a depth player, and he's still only 24. This could be the season he gets his chance. If there were ever a player to carry on the mantle from BJGE, Bolden makes the most sense as a consistent runner who provides value in all facets of the game.
He's not the best at anything, but his versatility possibly makes him a core member of the committee. Consider him the Dane Fletcher of the running backs.
Just remember that BJGE posted 437 yards and 5 touchdowns on 105 touches through his first two seasons (4.16 yards per touch). Those were season where he sat behind the more highly touted Laurence Maroney, and the more experienced Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor, and Kevin Faulk.
Bolden has 708 yards on 134 touches, and 5 touchdowns of his own (5.28 YPT). He's waiting for Ridley and Vereen in the final seasons of their contracts and his versatility leaves him just one snap away from becoming the lead runner.
The Patriots may invest a draft pick in a running back. They may find Vereen or Ridley worthy of an extension. But Bolden has shown a skill set that deserves to see time on the field- and this might be the season he gets his chance.