Since Bill Belichick was named head coach in 2000, the New England Patriots have drafted six running backs who partook in the NFL Scouting Combine.
That group does not include Antwoine Womack, a 2002 seventh-rounder who suffered an ACL injury during his final college bowl game, or Justise Hairston, a 2007 sixth-rounder out of Central Connecticut State who did not receive an invite to Indianapolis.
Nor does it include notable rookie free-agent signings like BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Bolden and D.J. Foster, who did.
The six combine backs the Patriots went on to draft instead include 2000 third-round pick J.R. Redmond, 2004 fourth-rounder Cedric Cobbs, 2006 first-rounder Laurence Maroney, 2011 second-rounder Shane Vereen and third-rounder Stevan Ridley, as well as 2014 fourth-rounder James White.
Much like their tenures with the team, their combine measurements inevitably varied – Redmond, Cobbs and Maroney were not participating in a full capacity. But given the offense’s use of between-the-tackles and sub backs, the athletic testing also brought along plenty of variance among those who were.
How’d they compare?
In terms of height, weight, speed, quickness, power, explosiveness and strength, here’s a glance back on those six backs as the 2017 class gets things underway at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Tallest: 6-foot – Cobbs, Ridley
Shortest: 5-foot-9 – White
Arkansas’ Cobbs and Minnesota’s Maroney both checked in at 6-foot, making them the tallest of the six-man group. Not far below were Arizona State’s Redmond and LSU’s Ridley at 5-foot-11. And on the shorter end stood the 5-foot-10 Vereen and 5-foot-9 White, who were both cut from a change-of-pace mold.
Heaviest: 225 pounds – Ridley
Lightest: 204 pounds – White
Ridley stepped on the scales as the heaviest combine back the Patriots have drafted in the Belichick era, weighing in at 225 pounds at the 2011 combine. Cobbs weighed 223 pounds, and Maroney and Redmond weighed in at 217 and 216 apiece. That, in turn, makes Vereen and White the lightest of the 17-draft assortment at 210 and 204 pounds.
Fastest: 4.49 seconds – Vereen
Slowest: 4.75 seconds – Cobbs
Vereen registered the fastest 40 at the combine when it comes to the backs drafted by the Patriots since 2000, clocking a 4.49 in 2011. Then there was White and Ridley, who ran 4.57 and 4.65, respectively. Cobbs was the slowest of the rushers with a 4.75, while Redmond and Maroney did not participate in the 40 or any other timed on-field work at the old RCA Dome. Redmond was dealing with a knee injury at the time, and later ran a reported 4.48 at the Sun Devils’ pro day. Maroney was also hand-timed at 4.48 during his private workout after the Golden Gophers’ pro day.
Fastest: 6.78 seconds – Ridley
Slowest: 7.05 seconds – White
While straight-lining 40-yard runs aren’t often seen at the NFL level, change of direction is every time a back takes a handoff and negotiates his gaps. The three-cone illustrates that skill well, and Ridley’s 6.78 showing back in 2011 certainly was reflective of his slashing style of play during his early years in Foxborough. Vereen ran a 6.95 three-cone that same year, and White followed with a 7.05 time three years ago. Cobbs, Maroney and Redmond did not go through the drill at the combine.
Fastest: 4.20 seconds – White
Slowest: 4.28 seconds – Vereen
From a similar vein in terms of gauging quickness and lateral agility, White fared better in the 20-yard shuttle. His 4.20-second scamper edges out Ridley’s 4.21 as the best of any participating back the Patriots have drafted, followed by Vereen’s 4.28. Then again, the sample size is small. Cobbs, Maroney and Redmond did not participate in the short shuttle while in Indy.
Highest: 40 inches – Cobbs
Lowest: 32 inches – White
The best dunker of the group would figure to be Cobbs, who leaped 40 inches at the 2004 combine. Ridley lands second with a 36-inch vertical, then Vereen’s 34-inch vert ranks third. Redmond’s 32.5-inch vert and White’s 32-inch vert round out the group. Maroney did not attempt the vertical leap in 2006.
Longest: 123 inches – Cobbs
Shortest: 114 inches – White
Cobbs also holds the top broad jump among combine backs the Patriots drafted. On paper, Redmond and Ridley fall after him in terms of explosiveness and lower-body power, with respective marks of 121 and 118 inches. Then there’s Vereen’s 115-inch broad and White’s 114. Maroney did not partake in the event.
Most: 31 reps – Vereen
Fewest: 18 reps – Ridley
Only three of the six combine backs drafted by New England took on the 225-pound bench press. Vereen, with arms measuring just over 30 inches, excelled by putting up 31 reps. White did as well, putting up 23. Ridley resides in third place with 18, while Cobbs, Redmond and Maroney did not hit the bench.