With all the talk of the Patriots potentially drafting a RB, one name always stuck out to me. The Patriots are certainly in the market for a RB with Blount on the wrong side of 30 along with James White and Dion Lewis on the final years of their contracts. White is an extension candidate, although that shouldn’t affect the Patriots interest in Hunt. At Toledo, Hunt racked up over 4800 rushing yards and never finished below 5.5 yards per carry. Hunt also was a two-time First Team All MAC RB, so the competition question is pretty much answered.
Hunt played at 225-230 pounds in the regular season, but at the Senior Bowl dropped to 5’10” 208 and showed more explosiveness and burst. His NFL weight should be closer to 208 than 225 although the smaller weight does bring into question whether he can handle a full time duty running the ball. Given the Patriots RB by committee approach, it isn’t a big deal. It will be interesting to see how well his pass protection and receiving skills develop, he caught 41 passes his Senior year at Toledo so there is something to work with. One more thing to add, Hunt is excellent with ball security with only 1 fumble in 856 career touches and none in his last three season.
Vs. South Team (Senior Bowl) 2017
Hunt looked great in the Senior Bowl, eclipsing 100 yards with a long of 43. Hunt showed the ability to slip out of tackles in space and keep his balance. At the lighter weight, Hunt showed a lot of burst and speed. He wasn’t asked to do much in pass protection or catching the ball, but as a runner he impressed.
Vs. BYU 2016
Hunt showed the ability to operate in tight spaces and make defenders miss. It’s not entirely a result of Toledo’s up-tempo spread offense, as Hunt made defenders miss in the Senior Bowl as well. Even with the extra weight, Hunt ran all over the BYU defense in both the run and pass game. Hunt also had a couple pass pro snaps, although it’s a skill that needs more refinement in the NFL.
Patriots Fit: Hunt could immediately contribute as part of the RB rotation. Since the Patriots will have a healthy Dion Lewis in camp this year in combination with James White, the team could add a veteran like LeGarrette Blount. Hunt would serve as insurance for the inevitable Dion Lewis injury. It will be interesting to see if he’s also an option for returning kicks, although I wouldn’t worry about that option.
Pro Comp: Dion Lewis. Hunt’s shifty feet and ability to cut in tight spaces makes him an ideal fit for the Patriots offense and an eventual replacement for Lewis. While the Patriots run mostly a man/gap scheme, they do mix in some zone runs. The Senior Bowl video is a better projection of how’d he look in an NFL offense. Hunt could prove to be a late Day 2 steal.