Potential Patriots: 5 running backs to keep an eye on in NFL draft

The NFL draft is quickly approaching and the Patriots have 12 overall picks, including six in the top 101. Given their lack of moves during free agency, the team should be very active. This will be a series broken down by position of players who could be of interest to the team. Today, we look at the running backs. Here’s earlier editions of the series.

The Patriots really don’t have much of a glaring need at running back with James White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden under contract, but with as many selections as they have it would not be a surprise to see a running back selected. With that being said, it likely will be in the later rounds.

Here are five names to keep an eye on.

Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M- Williams doesn’t project as a feature NFL back, but he can do a lot of things and that is what the Patriots like. As a junior this past fall, he had 271 carries for 1,760 yards and 18 touchdowns on top of catching 27 passes. The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder met with the Patriots at the combine and is also viewed as a team leader. If he’s around in the final few rounds, don’t be surprised if the Patriots take a shot.

Miles Sanders, Penn State— Playing behind Saquon Barkley at Penn State, Sanders didn’t get the recognition he really deserved until this past year when he totaled 1,274 yards on the ground and caught 24 passes. He isn’t as elusive as Barkley, but they do have similar qualities. Sanders would be worthy of a Day 3 pick, as it seems like he has quite a bit of upside. He also met with New England in Indy.

Bryce Love, Stanford — Love is one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft as he tore his ACL in his final college football game making it unlikely he will play at all in 2019. Love was one of the best backs in college football a few years ago, rushing for 2,118 yards as a junior so the Patriots could potentially get a first-round talent on Day 3. He would then likely be stashed on IR for the year and with 12 total picks, a selection like this could make a lot of sense.

Tony Pollard, Memphis — Pollard shared a backfield in Memphis with Darrell Henderson, so he maybe didn’t get the full attention he deserved. He was more of the pass-catching back, who made a number of big plays. He rushed for 552 yards and six touchdowns this past fall, and also caught 39 passes for 458 yards. He also has six career kickoff returns for touchdowns, which only adds to his intrigue. 

James Williams, Washington State — Williams is one of the better pass-catching backs coming out via the draft. In 2018, he posted 83 catches for 613 yards and four touchdowns, as well as 122 rushing attempts for 560 yards and 12 touchdowns. If drafted, it won’t be until the sixth or seventh round, and could be worth a shot for the Patriots. He met with the Patriots at the combine.