Despite Green-Ellis' big year, Pats still expected to draft a back

Posted Feb. 24, 2011 @ 4:15 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

The league's highest-scoring offense in 2010 shouldn't have a whole lot of focus on that side of the ball in April's draft, but there are a couple holes the Patriots can fill to add depth, specifically in the backfield.

Before the season, we looked at the running back position following the trade of Laurence Maroney and heard that an overhaul could occur, with the Pats possibly selecting Alabama's Mark Ingram in the first round.

Two things happened during the 2010 season to alter that mindset. First, the Patriots boasted the league's ninth-best rushing attack. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a breakout year, rushing for 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns, and Danny Woodhead provided the perfect complement as the third-down back. Secondly, the Raiders finished 8-8, giving the Patriots the 17th pick in the draft, which could be out of Ingram's range.

The way we hear it, running back is still a position the Patriots will target in the draft, not through free agency, where veterans like Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and DeAngelo Williams could be available. With veteran RBs Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk all candidates to retire, that leaves the team with just Green-Ellis and Woodhead, and no dependable back should Green-Ellis need a break. Green-Ellis proved to be a good NFL running back, but he doesn't have No. 1-back skills. That's not a necessity in the Patriots' offense, but it is more reason to add depth.

The Patriots know about value, with both Green-Ellis and Woodhead being undrafted players, so the Pats likely won't reach for a running back. But with six picks in the first three rounds, it won't be a surprise if they take one early.