The New England Patriots are abundantly picky when it comes to drafting running backs.
With few exceptions, the Patriots draft running backs with top-tier 3-cone drill testing numbers who rarely fumble and can pass block. The Patriots also seem to prefer early-down running backs who weigh over 215 pounds. Needless to say there is no perfect running back prospect for the Goldilocks of NFL teams in this draft.
We pored through the data available on the 2017 NFL Draft class and did our best to find prospects who fit what the Patriots typically seek with each of their seven draft picks.
This is the first installment of a nine-part draft preview series where we’ll go through each position and find a fit in each slot. Check out the testing numbers and measureables of all top running back prospects and how they fit the Patriots’ typical standards in the table below.
Round 3, 72nd Overall Pick: Wayne Gallman, Clemson
It’s especially difficult to find a running back prospect for the Patriots with their first pick. Alvin Kamara likely will be gone at No. 72 and fumbled much too frequently in college. The Patriots reportedly aren’t even considering drafting Joe Mixon after his legal issues.
Gallman fumbled once every 148.2 touches in college, has plenty of experience as a blocker (183 snaps) and fits what the Patriots usually look for with his size, speed and broad jump explosion. His agility isn’t quite up to snuff after he ran a 7.17-second 3-cone and 4.28-second short shuttle.
Round 3, 96th Overall Pick: Jeremy McNichols, Boise State
McNichols fumbled slightly more than the Patriots usually like (once every 78 touches), but he has the size (214 pounds) to serve as an every-down back and ran the 3-cone in 6.93 seconds. He tested well across the board, also running a 4.49-second 40-yard dash. He was one of the best pass-blocking running backs in the FBS last season, according to Pro Football Focus’ Draft Edge.
Round 4, 131st Overall Pick: Corey Clement, Wisconsin
Clement also fumbled more often than the Patriots usually like (once every 86.9 touches), but he ran a 6.71-second 3-cone drill with a 4.17-second short shuttle. At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, he also has the size to serve as an early-down back. He has limited experience as a pass blocker, however.
Round 5, 163rd Overall Pick: Brian Hill, Wyoming
Hill is a really solid fit across the board for the Patriots. He ran a 7.03-second 3-cone, fumbled once every 136.2 touches and led FBS running backs with 190 pass-block snaps. At 219 pounds, he certainly has the size to be an early-down back, too.
Round 5, 183rd Overall Pick: Aaron Jones, UTEP
At 5-foot-10, 209 pounds, Jones doesn’t have the prototypical size for a Patriots early-down runner, but he certainly has the agility the Patriots typically look for in a pass-catching back after running a 6.82-second 3-cone. He doesn’t have a ton of experience as a pass blocker and fumbled once every 81 touches.
Round 6, 200th Overall Pick: T.J. Logan, UNC
Logan is another undersized back at 5-foot-9, 196 pounds. He ran a blazing 6.61-second 3-cone drill with a 4.37-second 40-yard dash. He also fumbled just once every 91.8 touches in college. He allowed just four pressures on 80 pass-blocking snaps.
Round 7, 239th Overall Pick: Dare Ogunbowale, Wisconsin
Ogunbowale was one of the worst pass blockers in the NCAA, but no seventh-round prospect will be perfect. What he does have going for him: He never fumbled in 390 touches in college, and he ran a 6.99-second 3-cone.
UDFA: Dalton Crossan, New Hampshire
Here’s why he’s a fit.
Potential First-Round Pick: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
McCaffrey seems like a pipe dream for Patriots fans at this point. But if they found their way into the top half of the first round, he rarely fumbled at Stanford and led running backs in the 3-cone at the combine.
There are no ideal fits for the Patriots at running back in the later part of the first round.
Other fits for the Patriots at running back include Michigan’s De’Veon Smith and Toledo’s Kareem Hunt.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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