With SonyMichel entering his third season as a former first-round pick and DamienHarris on mothballs after being a third-round selection last year, the Patriots wouldn't seem to have many needs at running back in this year's draft.
But with JamesWhite, RexBurkhead and BrandonBolden all entering contract seasons, the Patriots could be heading for a continued rebuild in this group. Ideally, White gets signed to a contract extension to be the wise-old hand, Bolden sticks around on a cheap deal to bring leadership and special teams, the rest of the Patriots backfield stays young and looks for dynamic playmakers out of the draft each year.
This year's draft has some top headliners, but even among our best of the rest, there are names that are going to become known pretty quickly to NFL fans because they are used to playing in space and speed is the name of the game in college.
I wasn't overwhelmed with the top-level talent in this class — it drops off pretty quickly after DeAndre Swift and J.K. Dobbins — but the depth was impressive and value can be found.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia (5-8, 212, 4.48, Round 1-2): Very similar to former teammate Sony Michel, but Swift appears to be slightly better in virtually ever area. Has a little more explosiveness, a better ability to make people miss, is a better receiver and, most importantly, has better natural instincts for the position. But not a no-doubt prospect. Needs room to work. Inconsistent. He is built well, and better than JK Dobbins.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (5-9 1/2, 209, n/a, Round 1-2):