Leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, we’ll find fits at every position and in every round for the New England Patriots. Next, we’ll take a deep dive on running backs.
If the New England Patriots take a running back before the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the team’s fanbase might lose its collective mind.
That being said, we’re going position-by-position to determine the Patriots’ best fits in each round of the draft. So, doing our due diligence, we’re still posting an article on the potential Patriots running backs.
Here is the Patriots’ draft history at running back:
The Patriots seemingly value the three-cone drill when it comes to taking running backs. The Patriots have never drafted a running back who posted a below-average three-cone drill. Of course, you can consider the sample size here. While pure speed doesn’t seem to be a major contributing factor, the Patriots do like agile and explosive running backs.
Here are the testing numbers for every running back invited to the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine:
Only two running backs ran the three-cone in under seven seconds. None met the figure of the Patriots’ average drafted running back.
Based on the above metrics and overall playing style, here are the Patriots’ best running back fits in each round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
FIRST ROUND: D’Andre Swift, Georgia
Another Georgia back? Another Georgia back.
This isn’t going to happen, but there were no great first-round options. Jonathan Taylor out of Wisconsin is the best athletic fit, but he also seemingly can’t catch nor hold onto the football, and those are problems in New England.
Swift is a very, very good receiving back who, at 5-foot-8, 212 pounds, is big enough to also run between the tackles.
SECOND ROUND: Antonio Gibson, Memphis
Gibson is more of an offensive weapon than a running back or wide receiver, so we’re kind of cheating here because the Patriots don’t need a running back in the second round. He caught 38 passes for 735 yards with eight touchdowns and rushed 33 times for 369 yards with four scores in 2019. He’s shaped like a running back at 6-feet, 228 pounds and ran an impressive 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
THIRD ROUND: Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State
Evans is the second-best fit based on testing numbers. He’d probably project as a third-down back with the Patriots at 5-foot-10, 203 pounds. He caught 21 passes for 198 yards with five touchdowns in 2019 to add to his 255 carries for 1,480 yards with 18 scores. He had tremendous ball security in college. He ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Evans, like Gibson, spent some time at receiver in college. He also returned 56 kicks for 1,439 yards with three touchdowns, averaging 36.9 yards per return, in college.
FOURTH ROUND: Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
He’s undersized at 5-foot-9, 207 pounds, but he was one of the two running backs to run the three-cone drill in under seven seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’s a great potential fit as a third-round back with 77 catches over the last two seasons.
UCLA’s Joshua Kelley is another potential fourth-round pick and the only other back who ran the three-cone in under seven seconds.
FIFTH ROUND: AJ Dillon, Boston College
If the Patriots are looking for the next LeGarrette Blount or their version of Derrick Henry, then Dillon is their guy.
He’s 6-feet, 247 pounds and ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash with a 41-inch vertical leap and 10-feet, 11-inch broad jump. He’s not much of a pass-catcher.
SIXTH ROUND: Sewo Olonilua, TCU
Why not include a fullback, right?
Why include a fullback, though? Because I have more to say about Sewo Olunilua than I do about any traditional running back. He’s 6-foot-3, 232 pounds and is the seventh-best athletic fit in the draft, among running backs, for the Patriots.
He carried the ball 348 times for 1,624 yards with 18 touchdowns in four seasons. He also hauled in 60 catches for 383 yards with another touchdown.
The Patriots already have three fullbacks on their roster. Who doesn’t need a fourth?
SEVENTH ROUND: JaMycal Hasty, Baylor
Another option as a third-down back, Hasty is 5-foot-8, 205 pounds and ran an impressive 4.03-second short shuttle.
He caught 79 passes for 485 yards in four college seasons. He did struggle in pass protection, however.
Thumbnail photo via Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports Images