The Patriots played the long game and double dipped at running back in this draft. After selecting James White in the fourth round, the Patriots managed to get sixth round pick Tyler Gaffney off waivers.
Gaffney, a 5'11, 220 pound bruiser out of Stanford, was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He tore his meniscus in camp and the team tried to stash him on the Injured Reserve. In a moment of Jake Ballard-like clarity, Bill Belichick snagged Gaffney off the waiver wire.
Posting a 4.49 40 yard dash and a 6.78 three cone time, Gaffney is a tremendous speed athlete. The combine-comparison scores match him most similarly to James Starks (89.8%), a quality running back in Green Bay, while Alfred Morris is the sixth-best comparison (77.5%), who has been quite excellent in Washington. Gaffney's shockingly low bench press of 15 indicates that his year off to play football definitely impacted his strength, but additional focus should allow him to regain his ability and continue to improve.
Gaffney rushed for 1709 yards and 21 touchdowns last season and would fit well in the LeGarrette Blount-type mold for the future offense. He also added 15 receptions, which adds a more well-rounded body of skill for the position. Gaffney is the 22nd college running back since 2000 to reach the 1700/20 plateau (Ray Rice and Montee Ball did it twice).
A torn meniscus isn't too unusual to recover from, with an expected timeline of 3-6 months, depending on the severity of the tear. Running back Arian Foster played the entire 2011 season on a torn meniscus, as did Chris Johnson for the Titans last season. 80% of basketball players who tear their meniscus return to full ability, which is a positive sign.
Bill Belichick is certainly hoping that Gaffney can recover his obvious ability; this is a low-risk move that is another example of smart GMing.