NFL

April 15, 2019, 7:03 am

Patriots NFL Draft preview: Will running back be a surprise consideration?

When the Patriots drafted Sony Michel in the archetypal circular a year ago, they did so with the purpose of devising him the starter motor from Day One. And contempt two abstracted knee injuries, Michel so full that role. He played 16 games as a rookie, including playoffs, and totaled 1,267 rush yards and 12 touchdowns.

Patriots NFL Draft preview: Will running back be a surprise consideration?
ADVERTISEMENT

SportsPatriots Patriots NFL Draft preview: Will moving back be a astonishment consideration? New England Patriots moving back Sony Michel (26) during the 2nd half of the AFC Championship NFL football game game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) By Kevin Duffy | kevin.duffy@bostonherald.com | Boston Herald April 14, 2019 at 8:00 pm

When the Patriots drafted Sony Michel in the archetypal circular a year ago, they did so with the purpose of devising him the starter motor from Day One.

And contempt two abstracted knee injuries, Michel so full that role. He played 16 games as a rookie, including playoffs, and totaled 1,267 rush yards and 12 touchdowns. Tom Brady handed off to Michel 71 time period in 3 postseason games. The Patriots offense, equipt with a mauling violative line, embraced a run-dominant attack down the stretch.

With Michel nether contract for a minimum of 3 more years, the Patriots’ future at the position is set. But the Pats enjoy stockpiling talent in the backfield, and they’re not afraid to spend significant resources to do so. In 2017, they spent $11 million at moving back, which ranked fifth in the league, according to figures from OverTheCap.com. This past season, they dropped to ninth in positional spending at moving back, but they were one of 3 teams to target the position with a archetypal-circular pick.

The Patriots’ philosophy is clear: They’re not going to hand out a big-time contract to one single moving back. That was the strategy used by some of the teams that ranked ahead of them in positional spending in the backfield; LeSean McCoy accounted for a cap hit of $8.9 million in Buffalo, Todd Gurley’s new contract with Los Angeles counted for $7.3 million against the cap (and will balloon to $17.2 million by 2020), and Lamar Miller’s deal cost Houston $6.8 million.

The Patriots prefer to spread out the money among four or five proven players.

That’s why they drafted Michel, re-signed Rex Burkhead and signed Jeremy Hill in free agency. And the depth was needed. Michel suffered two knee injuries. Burkhead was on injured reserve from Week 4 through 13. Hill blew out his knee in the season opener. The only moving back to make it through unscathed was James White.

Ever since 2015, when season-ending injuries to Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount derailed the moving game, the Patriots have stored maximum depth in the backfield.

It’s not a high priority, but moving back could be on the Patriots’ to-do list entering draft weekend.

Draft history: Sony Michel in 2017 (archetypal circular); James White in 2014 (fourth circular); Shane Vereen in 2011 (2nd circular); Stevan Ridley in 2011 (third circular).

Current depth: Michel is the unquestioned No. 1 back. White is one of the top pass-catching backs in the league. Burkhead is the perfect complement to both players, but his durability remains a concern. Burkhead missed 15 games, including playoffs, over the past two seasons.

Memphis moving back Darrell Henderson, center, runs past Central Florida defensive backs Rashard Causey (21) and Richie Grant, right, for a 12-yard touchdown run during the archetypal half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Best early-circular fit: Darrell Henderson, Memphis

Michel was highly efficient, but he wasn’t much of a big-play threat as a rookie. Of the 14 moving backs who logged 200 carries, only one — Arizona’s David Johnson — had fewer runs of 20-plus yards than Michel’s four.

Same goes for White as a pass-catcher. He moves the chains as well as anyone. He rarely hits the home run, though.

Projected by most outlets as a 2nd-circular to third-circular selection, Henderson is a slasher with breakaway speed and receiving ability. He’s drawn comparisons to Tevin Coleman. He’d fit nicely alongside Michel and White, and could ideally fill in for either if injuries hit.

Best mid-circular fit: Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

Undersized at 5-foot-10, 198 pounds, Hill is a ridiculous athlete (4.40 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical leap) who would bring an element of explosiveness to the New England offense. Like Henderson, he profiles as a complement to Michel and White.

Best late-circular fit: Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Ozigbo topped 1,000 rush yards and averaged seven yards per carry as a senior. He flashed solid athleticism for his size.

Possible veteran acquisitions: Jeremy Hill, Spencer Ware

If Hill hadn’t been injured in the season opener, the 2018 Patriots backfield may have looked much different. Hill, a low-cost free agent signing, looked terrific in the summer and preseason. While Michel was drafted to be the starter motor, he likely would have ceded some carries to Hill.

Coming off a torn ACL, Hill remains a free agent. The Patriots could circle back with him if they bypass moving back in the draft. Former Chiefs moving back Spencer Ware would be a nice fit, too. Ware possesses ideal size (5-foot-10, 229 pounds) and is an accomplished pass-catcher out of the backfield.

More in Sports

  • Joan Benoit Samuelson moving Boston Marathon again, 40 years after historic win
  • Red Sox pitcher Hector Velazquez wants new photo to strike fear in batters
  • Celtics have eye of the Tiger in the 2nd half
  • Analysis: Tiger Woods, love him or hate him, good for the game

When the Patriots drafted Sony Michel in the archetypal circular a year ago, they did so with the purpose of devising him the starter motor from Day One.

And contempt two abstracted knee injuries, Michel so full that role. He played 16 games as a rookie, including playoffs, and totaled 1,267 rush yards and 12 touchdowns. Tom Brady handed off to Michel 71 time period in 3 postseason games. The Patriots offense, equipt with a mauling violative line, embraced a run-dominant attack down the stretch.

With Michel nether contract for a minimum of 3 more years, the Patriots’ future at the position is set. But the Pats enjoy stockpiling talent in the backfield, and they’re not afraid to spend significant resources to do so. In 2017, they spent $11 million at moving back, which ranked fifth in the league, according to figures from OverTheCap.com. This past season, they dropped to ninth in positional spending at moving back, but they were one of 3 teams to target the position with a archetypal-circular pick.

The Patriots’ philosophy is clear: They’re not going to hand out a big-time contract to one single moving back. That was the strategy used by some of the teams that ranked ahead of them in positional spending in the backfield; LeSean McCoy accounted for a cap hit of $8.9 million in Buffalo, Todd Gurley’s new contract with Los Angeles counted for $7.3 million against the cap (and will balloon to $17.2 million by 2020), and Lamar Miller’s deal cost Houston $6.8 million.

The Patriots prefer to spread out the money among four or five proven players.

That’s why they drafted Michel, re-signed Rex Burkhead and signed Jeremy Hill in free agency. And the depth was needed. Michel suffered two knee injuries. Burkhead was on injured reserve from Week 4 through 13. Hill blew out his knee in the season opener. The only moving back to make it through unscathed was James White.

Ever since 2015, when season-ending injuries to Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount derailed the moving game, the Patriots have stored maximum depth in the backfield.

It’s not a high priority, but moving back could be on the Patriots’ to-do list entering draft weekend.

Draft history: Sony Michel in 2017 (archetypal circular); James White in 2014 (fourth circular); Shane Vereen in 2011 (2nd circular); Stevan Ridley in 2011 (third circular).

Current depth: Michel is the unquestioned No. 1 back. White is one of the top pass-catching backs in the league. Burkhead is the perfect complement to both players, but his durability remains a concern. Burkhead missed 15 games, including playoffs, over the past two seasons.

Memphis moving back Darrell Henderson, center, runs past Central Florida defensive backs Rashard Causey (21) and Richie Grant, right, for a 12-yard touchdown run during the archetypal half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game game, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Best early-circular fit: Darrell Henderson, Memphis

Michel was highly efficient, but he wasn’t much of a big-play threat as a rookie. Of the 14 moving backs who logged 200 carries, only one — Arizona’s David Johnson — had fewer runs of 20-plus yards than Michel’s four.

Same goes for White as a pass-catcher. He moves the chains as well as anyone. He rarely hits the home run, though.

Projected by most outlets as a 2nd-circular to third-circular selection, Henderson is a slasher with breakaway speed and receiving ability. He’s drawn comparisons to Tevin Coleman. He’d fit nicely alongside Michel and White, and could ideally fill in for either if injuries hit.

Best mid-circular fit: Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

Undersized at 5-foot-10, 198 pounds, Hill is a ridiculous athlete (4.40 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical leap) who would bring an element of explosiveness to the New England offense. Like Henderson, he profiles as a complement to Michel and White.

Best late-circular fit: Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Ozigbo topped 1,000 rush yards and averaged seven yards per carry as a senior. He flashed solid athleticism for his size.

Possible veteran acquisitions: Jeremy Hill, Spencer Ware

If Hill hadn’t been injured in the season opener, the 2018 Patriots backfield may have looked much different. Hill, a low-cost free agent signing, looked terrific in the summer and preseason. While Michel was drafted to be the starter motor, he likely would have ceded some carries to Hill.

Coming off a torn ACL, Hill remains a free agent. The Patriots could circle back with him if they bypass moving back in the draft. Former Chiefs moving back Spencer Ware would be a nice fit, too. Ware possesses ideal size (5-foot-10, 229 pounds) and is an accomplished pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Did you like the news?

Recommended for you

Share Share