NFL DRAFT

Countdown to the Draft – Running back: Could Patriots surprise with boost for ground game?

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(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As we count down to the 2019 NFL draft, we'll take the measure of the Patriots by position at this stage on the calendar, and offer up five prospects at each position -- two if they're inclined to invest in the early going, and three more if they're interested in waiting until Day 3. We kick things off with a look at running back.

THE SKINNY

This is not a position of priority for the Patriots this spring, but that doesn’t mean New England isn’t thinking about the future. James White and Rex Burkhead have two more years on their deals, while Sony Michel’s deal runs for another three. (You can also assume part-timer Brandon Bolden and fullback James Develin will be part of the mix as well. And don’t rule out the possible return of Jeremy Hill.) But considering how the Patriots have operated in the past (White and Shane Vereen basically took redshirt seasons in their first year in the league), it wouldn’t be a shock to see New England take a late-round flier on an under-the-radar prospect with an eye toward grooming him for 2020 and beyond.

POSSIBLE EARLY TARGETS

Damien Harris, Alabama

Patriots scheme fit