Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews Could Be Feature Running Back Patriots Need

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Fresno State's Ryan Mathews Could Be Feature Running Back Patriots Need About two or three months ago, Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews might have figured he could buy himself a nice Honda Accord after the upcoming NFL draft. But after Mathews’ stock has soared from gravel to the moon, he might wheel a Bugatti off the lot in the not-so-distant future.

Yet, Mathews will likely be the second running back selected next week, which means he could be around when the Patriots find themselves on the clock.

Key Stats
The 6-foot, 218-pounder led the nation with 1,808 rushing yards and scored 19 touchdowns last season. Mathews finished his career with 3,280 yards and 39 touchdowns in 31 games. Mathews compiled 659 yards against the Bulldogs’ four toughest opponents: Boise State, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Illinois.

Why the Patriots Would Want Him
While Clemson’s C.J. Spiller has garnered much more national recognition and is the top running back on the majority of draft boards, Mathews is built to be a feature back who can earn his paycheck between the tackles. He’s fast, tough to bring down, durable and a real character guy. Mathews is also a sound blocker, and he is said to be a capable receiver, though he wasn’t asked to fill that role at Fresno State.

Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
It wouldn’t be anything personal because there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with Mathews. If the Patriots passed, it would be because they prefer to address a more vital area like the pass rush — or, in another simple explanation, Bill Belichick doesn’t want to put so much stock into one running back. Mathews figures to be around until the end of the first round or early in the second round, so New England could also decide to get aggressive with its three second-round picks to swing a trade and move up the board.

Potential Impact in 2010
Mathews could probably become the Patriots’ go-to back from the start, and he would be an effective weapon on the ground. Due to Wes Welker’s knee injury, the Pats will need to put more emphasis on the running game next season, and Mathews could take the reins.

What The Locals Are Saying
Here is a really good feature that introduces you to the recent evolution of Mathews’ personality.

Likelihood Mathews Is Available at No. 22
There’s a very good chance the former Bulldog is still around when the Patriots are on the clock. For Mathews to go before No. 22, Seattle would probably have to take Spiller, and the Texans could then snag Mathews.

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NESN.com will spotlight players the Patriots could take with their first-round pick.
April 12: Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham
April 13: Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap
April 14: Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant
April 15: Michigan defensive end/linebacker defensive end Brandon Graham
April 16: Clemson running back C.J. Spiller
April 17: Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle

April 19: Clemson outside linebacker Ricky Sapp

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