Upgrade Running Game a TOP PRIORITY.
I believe that Corey Dillon is on the decline and Kevin Faulk will always be just a "third down back". Picking at #21 in this years draft I believe NE may have a shot at LenDale White of USC or If still on the board D'angelo Williams. History has shown Running Backs tend to fall to the later picks in the first round. Example: Steven Jackson: St. Louis Rams.
We have already improved the running game. They're mssrs.; Light,
Koppen and Kaczur(missed Denver game). I really like White too.
And would pick him if he drops. Not so sure about Maroney and
D.Williams. Compare our backs to Pittsburgh. Bettis,Parker,Staley
to Dillon,Faulk and Pass. Only difference was healthy ol. Anyway,
I don't see White falling to 21. I think upgrading speed on defense
will be our biggest need along with replacing Givens(If he leaves).
I loved what the 2004 Dillon brought to the Patriots but as we're stuck with him and Faulk for next year (about $8-$9M on the cap if we cut them combined), we need to try to make it work with them and, hopefully, better OL play. If next year shows they're really done, we can draft a RB then. With Light and Koppen returning and the rookies likely improving at least a little we should have a respectable running game, worst case.
If Dillon is even 80% of what he was two years ago that would make him a 1,280 yards 9-10 TD RB. That would be more than enough to help the offense return to form. Do we think he can return to that form? Is he more Curtis Martin or more Eddie George. I know he will be back because of his cap number and I hope he returns to form but even if he is back it is probably for only one more year. Even if he does run for 1,200 plus next year he will be 32 years old and have logged a ton of carries. Faulk and Pass are what they are but they will never be a 20 carry a game / 16 games a year back. The Patriots need to find that back and find him soon. They have two options:
1) Get a veteran – either through free agency of via trade
The Free Agent route will be somewhat tough because all the good back – Alexander, James – will want big money. Here is a partial list of who is available:
RB Shaun Alexander – would take a ton of $$$ but is one of the best
RB Edgerrin James – same as Alexander
RB Jamal Lewis – former 2,000 yard rusher who was in jail on drug charges
RB Ahman Green – once great that has seems to have lost a step.
RB Chester Taylor – up and comer that Baltimore will try and keep
RB DeShaun Foster – bigger stronger Faulk (gets hurt and fumbles)
RB Michael Bennett – too small and too frail
Possible Salary cap casualties and or trade possibilities:
RB Kevan Barlow – talented – former 1,000+ runner - but a head case
RB Ricky Williams – talented – former 1,800+ runner - but a head case with potential drug suspension hanging over his head.
RB Fred Taylor – talented but injury prone
I guy that I would like to see that Pats bring in if he is released is Arizona RB Marcel Shipp. He had a brutal year in Arizona but I think that was more a reflection of the team than the player. While he will never break a long run he is a tough power back that will move the chains if given a little crease. I think he could be a 1,300 yard back on the Pats (if he got 320-340 carries).
As for the draft, there are a number of talented RBs – Bush, Maroney, White, Williams and Calhoun – but very few “big” backs. There are more “Gale Sayers” types than there are “Earl Campbells” and I think the Pats would prefer an Earl Campbell.
Here is one sites – GBNreport.com – list of top backs: (* = underclassmen)
*Reggie Bush 5-11, 200 Southern California
DeAngelo Williams 5-8, 208 Memphis
*LenDale White 6-1, 235 Southern California
*Laurence Maroney 5-11, 205 Minnesota
*Brian Calhoun 5-10, 195 Wisconsin
Joseph Addai 5-11, 208 LSU
Jerome Harrison 5-9, 196 Washington State
*Maurice Drew 5-8, 205 UCLA
Andre Hall 5-8, 205 South Florida
Jerious Norwood 5-11, 205 Mississippi State
Leon Washington 5-8, 210 Florida State
DonTrell Moore 5-10, 210 New Mexico
Taurean Henderson 5-9, 205 Texas Tech
Mike Bell 6-0, 218 Arizona
Gerald Riggs 6-0, 215 Tennessee
P.J. Daniels 5-10, 210 Georgia Tech
Terrance Whitehead 5-10, 225 Oregon
Cedric Humes 5-11, 235 Virginia Tech
Except for White all the top backs are under 210. While no one that is 5-8ish 200 lbs can be considered “small” the feature back for the Pats in the BB era have been 220 lbs plow horses.
So the Pats can either change their philosophy a little and go smaller or take a chance on a Riggs, Bell or Humes in the middle/later rounds.
No matter how many times you take the bucket to the well. If the well is dry, you won't get any water. It appears that there is White and then there is empty, unless you are looking for a Kevin Faulk clone, and I don't think that is what you have in mind. More importantly, it defintely is NOT what Bill Belichick has in mind; and he makes the decisions.
That leaves FAs or vet trades. That actually is my preference. There is no position more prone to having "sure things" fail than RB. Stepping up in class to the NFL is something a RB can do, or not be able to do. I'd rather take a FA who has already proved he can do the jump in grade. Besides, look what we got for a mere second rounder. I'd gladly give up a second for any of Alexander, McCalister (even injured), Foster or Taylor. I' d give up a pair of fours for a bunch of other lower rated but proven NFL veteran backs. Then we can draft LBs in the LB Draft of the Decade.
I like the information that you provided and your statement is so true The Pats go for the big backs that are good for the cold weather I guess (Smile)
The only thing I can add is looking at a trade with the Bears they have a couple of good backs because I think Cedric Benson will be the main man soon.
I'm a big Laurence Maroney & Joseph Addai fan. Both are actually bigger than those listings. Supposedly Maroney added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason last season without giving up speed. Hopefully one of those guys slips to the late second round. I would be torn if Maroney was there at #21, I think he would be our Tatum Bell. Nothing wrong with Dillon running for 1000 yards and Maroney 900 yards, sorta like what happened in Denver with Anderson & Bell. With the improvement of our rookie O-Linemen, and returns of Light & Koppen, we would have a killer running game with Dillon & the very, very talented Maroney pounding defenses. My fear is that he runs a super fast 4.35 or something, and jumps into the top 10.
I know we have more pressing needs, but I'm sold on Maroney, and like guys like Kevin Jones and Clinton Portis, they bulked up a little bit for their final college seasons or predraft to be ready for the NFL. Addai also is a favorite of mine, the bad news is he never really got snaps like he was a starter, but that's also the good news, he didn't get pounded for 4 years. He also is bigger than 208 pounds, allegedly. Deangelo Williams is amazing, he is the closest thing to Barry Sanders I've seen in quite some time, and won't be there for us. Reggie Bush (A Gale Sayers/Marshall Faulk mix comes to mind) and Lendale White will both be gone by #21, so unless BB is sold on Lendale White, and trades up, I don't see in a Patriot's uni, though that would be nice.
2006 - 1356
2007 - 1105
2008 - 538 (went on IR week 6 after strong start)
2009 - 821
If I get a chance I will look at Dillon's future stats, and also the future stats of the RB that the pats will draft, so we can compare the seasons that parker has ahead of him with the season the Pats running backs have ahead of them
OL and defense. And we'll do something with WR in free agency. I don't see a big expenditure in money or draft choices in RB.
I'm in the RB corner, here is my dream scheme - we trade our #1 for a halfway decent vet and a #2 draft pick next year and also try and score a developmental RB in the 3rd or 4th round.
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