Possible Patriots Target in the 2016 NFL Draft, RB Kenneth Dixon

Steve Balestrieri
March 19, 2016 at 9:59 am ET

As the 2016 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots may still target a running back in the 2016 NFL Draft. Even though they have signed former Colt and Charger Donald Brown, they don’t really have a reliable three-down back at least until Dion Lewis is fully healthy from his ACL tear. Brown has had some degree of success in the passing game, as had Lewis and James White but the Pats need a consistent ground gainer between the tackles. Brandon Bolden is mainly a special teams’ maven and Tyler Gaffney is still looking to get on the field in Year 3.

The Patriots haven’t drafted many running backs in the Belichick era (8 to be exact), but with the apparent need, especially late in the season with the injuries piling up, this may be a time to strike earlier in the draft.

Kenneth Dixon from La. Tech. would be a perfect fit for the Patriots offense and a great possible target in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. Dixon is a true dual-threat running back that can be equally effective running the ball as he is catching it out of the backfield.

Dixon is not the biggest back at 5’10, 215 but he’s not afraid to and is effective running between the tackles. In his four years at La. Tech he had a combined 87 touchdowns, (72 rushing and 15 receiving) and is very effective after first contact. He averaged 3.3 yards after contact despite only averaging 1.7 before contact due to his being keyed on.

He’s elusive at the second level and can make people miss but is a very aggressive north-south type runner who always tries to squeeze out every bit of yardage. Dixon ran a 4.58 in the 40 at the NFL Combine and a 6.97 in the all-important 3-Cone Drill.

Pros:

– Decisive runner who can get up to top speed instantly. Finishes violently north-south

– Great hands and vision for catching the ball out of the backfield

–  Versatile can be a three-down back

– Very productive, a touchdown machine and a reliable target

Cons

– Has good but not breakaway speed, can be caught from behind

– Pass protection needs a lot of work

– Ball security also needs to be addressed.

What his Role Will Be:
His role in the New England offense would be like Dion Lewis as a three-down back. He should be able to run the ball effectively as well as catch it out of the backfield. Especially with Lewis still rehabbing from a torn ACL, he may see more work early in the season if he’s selected.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?
Yes, with improved ball security and pass protection skills, he should see the field more in late-game or clutch situations.

How Many Downs Can He Play?
Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
Dixon could replace free agent LeGarrette Blount as the lead running back in the ground game.

What is his ST Value?
Minimal

Conclusion:
Dixon would be a nice upgrade for the running back position. He fulfills a need for a back that can not only run the ball effectively between the tackles but catch it out of the backfield as well. He’s a very determined runner with an eye for the end zone that would quickly find a comfort level with Tom Brady in the passing game.

He definitely needs work on his pass blocking where he could be as aggressive as his running and his ball security skills. His style of play and his aggressiveness in finishing his runs may point to injury concerns at the next level.

With the qualities of being a three-down back and coupled with the Patriots pass-first system, Dixon can be a Starter on Day 1.

Dixson’s highlight film can be found here, courtesy of In My Prime Productions:

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