Prototypical Patriots: Do-it-all McCaffrey would thrive under McDaniels


The Patriots are stacked at running back. But as we've covered here in previous Prototypical Patriots posts, would you really be on-the-floor, mouth-agape shocked if they a position where they were already set? 

OK, you might be. And I might be. But that doesn't mean they won't do it. 


We've already run through some of the bigger backs the Patriots may find intriguing should they think that for some reason the combination of Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead don't give them enough as punishing runners. 

What about the sub-back spot? James White just re-upped on a contract extension that will pay him around $3 million a year so it appears as though he has a stranglehold on that gig so long as he can stay healthy. 

There are a few intriguing pass-catching backs in this year's draft class though that would seem like Prototypical Patriots -- whether Bill Belichick decides to draft them or whether he and his staff show some interest in them as free agents years from now. 

Let's kick it off with the player who may be the most prototypical of all the Prototypical Patriots we list in this series . . . 

Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, 5-foot-11, 202 pounds: Unless the Patriots are willing to trade up into the top half of the first round -- and maybe the top-10 -- they won't have a shot at the draft's ultimate Swiss Army knife. Still, it's a lot of fun to picture him in the Patriots offense as a pass-catching back who could return punts and fill the slot receiver role that may be open in the next couple of seasons. He's considered one of the best route-runners in the class, and his quickness will play at the next level as he checked in with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, a 6.57-second three-cone drill and a 4.22-second short shuttle at this year's combine. 

Alvin Kamara, Tennessee, 5-foot-10, 214 pounds: Closer in size to Shane Vereen (5-10, 210 pounds) than White (5-9, 204), Kamara flashed the ability to be a three-down player for the Vols though he was used relatively sparingly. He rushed for 596 yards and nine scores on just 103 carries last season and showed capable hands with 40 grabs for 392 yards and four touchdowns. He has ball-security issues that will require cleaning up at the next level, but he's an explosive athlete (39.5-inch vertical, 131-inch broad jump) who could warrant a second-round pick.

Curtis Samuel, Ohio State, 5-foot-11, 196 pounds: Samuel may be more slot receiver than he is sub back at the next level, but he'd be a fascinating fit in the Patriots offense as a hybrid option. He ran a blazing 4.31-second 40-yard dash at this year's combine that somehow flew under the radar (partly because Washington's John Ross ran a ridiculous 4.22) and could be a home-run threat any time he gets his hands on the football. His 'tweener status may limit him to being a return specialist and a gadget-play guy -- seems like he'd be a jet-sweep extrordinaire -- but McDaniels and Belichick would be able to figure out a way to make the most of his unique physical gifts. 

Marlon Mack, South Florida, 5-foot-11, 213 pounds: An impressive athlete (4.5-second 40, 35.5-inch vertical, 125-inch broad jump) who has had trouble holding onto the football (12 fumbles in three seasons), it's hard to say when Mack will hear his name called this weekend. Used in the screen game and lined up wide, Mack proved to be one of the more versatile backs in this year's class. His lack of experience as a pass protector, though, may give a team like the Patriots second thoughts about taking him in the middle rounds. 

TJ Logan, North Carolina, 5-foot-9, 196 pounds: One of the fastest players in this year's class (4.37-second 40-yard dash), Logan's athleticism will translate as a pro. He recorded a 6.61-second three-cone drill, a 4.27-second short shuttle, and a 33.5-inch vertical at this year's combine -- all of which seem to fall in line with what the Patriots look for out of their sub backs. He'll also provide some value as a kick returner, which might interest the Patriots on Day 3. He had two returns for touchdowns on 21 returns last season, per Pro Football Focus.

Tarik Cohen, North Carolina A&T, 5-foot-7, 179 pounds: You may see Cohen's height and assume, "Oh, a Dion Lewis clone!" Not exactly. Lewis was about 15 pounds heavier than Cohen coming out of Pitt. Watch Cohen slip through tackles for NC A&T, though, and you may be reminded of Lewis' game. Cohen actually clocked a quicker 40-yard dash (4.42 seconds) than Lewis did and had a better broad jump. Meanwhile Lewis had the better vertical, three-cone and short shuttle. Cohen has offensive tackle-sized mitts (a shade over 10 inches) that should help him as a receiver in the NFL.

Aaron Jones, UTEP, 5-foot-9, 208 pounds: Jones is almost a physical clone of White in terms of height and weight. Unlike White, UTEP's top runner was one of the top athletic testers in his class. Jones has an ability to change direction that stands out among draftable backs this year -- 6.82 three-cone, 4.20-second 20-yard shuttle, 11.53 60-yard shuttle -- which helped him put together an impressive 2016 for the Miners, rushing for 1,773 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 233 yards and three scores and was named a first-team All-Conference USA selection.


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