The Patriots have a long term need at the RB position and while it would be common sense to punt the position into the next draft where there is better depth at the top, the Patriots should still make an effort to improve the position this year. Barber is a short, physical runner that was a 3-down workhorse for Auburn, but coming out of a spread offense may keep the Patriots uninterested. Ignoring that fact, Barber shows promise as a receiver and a blocker on passing downs. I see him as a #2 back who can compete for the #1 role this year then share the backfield with the RB the Patriots draft next year.
Barber lacks the speed to get to the edge, but tested well in the agility drills at the combine. He posted a 4.64 40 with a 1.62 split so he's not the quickest accelerator. His ability to change direction and shift gears tested very well with a 4.21 shuttle and 7.00 3-cone at 228 pounds. That ability to make lateral cuts shows up on tape against Alabama on his good runs and his poor numbers overall can be explained by bad QB and OL play in conjunction with great play by Alabama's Front 7.
He's a better fit under a Zone scheme where he can use his visions and ability to make cuts would be a focal point. The Patriots now have the athletic talent needed to run that scheme and Dante Scarnecchia has run zone concepts before in 2012-2013. As a prospect, Barber is very similar to FA RB Alfred Morris. They both have a slashing type running style that best fits Zone where cutback lanes are naturally created. Overall, I think that Barber is a 6th round prospect that can blossom in a scheme that tailored to him.