The New England Patriots entered the offseason with running back atop the list of biggest needs. The team's top two starters, Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount, suffered season-ending injuries, and Blount was a free agent.
Head coach Bill Belichick opted to ignore the quality running backs in free agency, such as Chris Ivory, Lamar Miller, and Matt Forte, in favor of adding Chargers cast-off Donald Brown, and there seemed to be a clear intention to address the position in the draft.
Then Belichick went and brought back Blount on a cheap deal and all bets were off.
New England would have been happy to add a rusher in the draft at the right price, but top tier prospects like Kenneth Dixon and Devontae Booker flew off the board between the Patriots 4th and early-5th round picks. Belichick also traded out of the 5th round pick to add a 2017 4th instead of selecting Paul Perkins, Jordan Howard, Jonathan Williams, or Wendell Smallwood (all taken in the subsequent 10 picks).
And so now we have the Patriots roster at running back for the start of camp (and the roster can change as teams start making cuts of their own).
Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels divide the position into two roles: the running back and the receiving back. Dion Lewis sits atop the depth chart because he can perform at an elite level in both functions. Blount is the team's top running back, but that's his sole purpose. A player like James White can only serve as the team's receiving back.
The Patriots have a special teamer in Brandon Bolden, who can back-up both roles in a below-average level, and added the veteran Brown who is probably a stronger runner than Bolden and more adept on the offensive side of the ball.
Then there's Tyler Gaffney, a bruiser from Stanford that spent the past two seasons on the injured reserve and restructured his contract to account for his high injury rate. Finally, there's undrafted rookie D.J. Foster who is one of six players since 2000 to gain more than 1,000 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards in a single season.
Assuming that both Lewis and Blount are roster locks, who would you consider to be the third running back to make the team?