The New England Patriots are fairly old on offense, as receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Brandon LaFell watch their 30th birthdays pass this upcoming year, and as running back LeGarrette Blount inches closer to the same mark. #2 tight end Scott Chandler will turn 31 this summer.
While Dion Lewis offers promising youth at running back, there is very little depth at the offensive skill positions. Here are some players that stood out at the combine and could interest the Patriots at various points in the draft.
Alabama RB Derrick Henry, 6'4.5, 247 lbs; key trait: 10'10 broad jump; While it would be crazy to think that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner would be off anyone's radar, the position is so devalued that Henry threatens to slip through the cracks. Alabama running backs haven't excelled in the NFL as of late, but Henry could be the talent that bucks the trend. The broad jump shows an explosion that could help his massive frame do some damage behind the Patriots offensive line. Projected to go in the top 50.
Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon, 5'10, 215 lbs; key trait: 6.97 three cone; Dixon is marketed as a version of Dion Lewis, but I don't think the comparison is great- Lewis is much quicker, but Dixon is far more polished as a player. Dixon can run, catch, and his three cone shows a top tier ability to change direction and keep defenders on their toes. Projected to go in the first two rounds.
Notre Dame RB C.J. Prosise, 6'0.5, 220 lbs; key trait: 4.48 40 yard dash; Prosise has one season at running back, having converted from wide receiver and safety. He produced a ridiculous 6.6 yards per carry and added an extra 308 yards as a receiver. His fantastic speed at 220 lbs shows a player with burst in the open field and echoes his skills as a former receiver. Projected to go in the 3rd or 4th rounds.
California RB Daniel Lasco, 6'0, 209 lbs; key trait: 41.5 inch vertical; Lasco could be the most physically gifted athlete on offense, with a 4.46 40 (with a positional best 1.53 10-yard split) and an 11'3 broad jump. While his 7.22 three cone is below expectation for a receiver, Lasco offers a top of value as a single-cut rusher (if he can stop dancing in the backfield). He is coming off an injury-riddled season, but produced well in 2014 and can run, block, and catch. Projected to go in the 4th or 5th rounds.
Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell, 5'11.5, 198 lbs; key trait: 32.625 inch arms; Mitchell collected roughly 36% of the Georgia passing offense, which faces the best defenses on a weekly basis. While his production was limited by a quarterback-less offense, he still shone on tape and he plays bigger than his height. His arms are almost an inch and a half longer than the normal player of his height, and matches the expected length of a player roughly 74.5 inches tall (6'2.5). Mitchell also had the 3rd largest hands of any running back, wide receiver, or tight end. Projected to go in the 3rd or 4th rounds.
Auburn WR Ricardo Louis, 6'2, 215 lbs; key trait: 11' broad jump; Louis' 718 yards on the season don't jump out on paper, but he was the only receiver on his team to crack 280 yards, and he also chipped in 158 rushing yards. Louis would instantly be a more explosive version of Brandon LaFell, but he comes from an unconventional offense and would take some time to develop. But if the Patriots are just sending LaFell deep, on crossers, or on end-arounds, Louis can do all that. Projected to be a priority undrafted free agent.
California WR Trevor Davis, 6'1, 188 lbs; key trait: 6.60 three cone; Davis had the most impressive combine out of the wide receivers, adding in a 4.42 40 yard dash, a 38.5 inch vertical, and a 10'4 broad jump. This didn't translate on to the field since he functioned as little more than the 3rd receiver in the California aerial attack. Davis is best as a kick returner, with some added upside as a potential Athletic Mythical Creature at receiver. Projected to be a camp body.
Stanford TE Austin Hooper, 6'3.5, 254 lbs; key trait: 10.625 inch hands; Hooper's hand are the 2nd largest of any wide receiver, running back, or tight end in the entire draft, and that's important because hand size isn't related to a player's height. Hooper just has massive hands. Hooper is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz as a productive receiving tight end in the NFL. Projected to go in the 2nd round.
South Carolina TE Jerell Adams, 6'5, 247 lbs; key trait: 4.64 40 yard dash; Adams definitely wow'd with his speed and his size and reinforced everything that he put up on tape. He's a healthy version of the Colts' Dwayne Allen and he's a ferocious blocker. He was underutilized as a receiver in college and will need to develop in the NFL. Projected to go in the 3rd or 4th rounds.
Harvard TE Ben Braunecker, 6'4.5, 250 lbs; key trait: 6.90 three cone; The wicked smaht kid from Hahvahd is trying to make a dent at the NFL level and he definitely provides the necessary physical traits. He's fast, explosive, and quick, and he picked up a whopping 850 yards and 8 touchdowns as the team's leading receiver. He'll have to adjust to the higher level of play. Projected to go in the 5th round.
Montana State TE Beau Sandland, 6'3.5, 253 lbs; key trait: 10'4 broad jump; Sandland is going to fly up boards as teams try to find a viable tight end. A transfer out of Miami, Sandland collected 632 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns as Montana State's leading receiver. He offers prototypical tight end physicals, with plenty of upside. Projected to be a priority free agent.