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Patriots.com Draft Board: Running Backs

1. Reggie Bush, USC – The total package. The scary thing about Bush is: he's even better when you watch him on tape than when you see him in a game. His toughness is underrated. A lot of his runs are inside and he has no problem putting his head down and running over a defender. Then there's his elusiveness. Tough to get worn down when you rarely get hit. If the Texans pass on Bush, the franchise and their fans will regret it forever.

2. DeAngelo Williams, Memphis – One of the most prolific backs in college football history. Led the nation in rushing despite playing with a third string quarterback for most of the season. Open-field moves are reminiscent of his idol - Barry Sanders.

3. Laurence Maroney, Minnesota – Patient runner with great vision. Has breakaway speed that provides a lot of big plays. Is bigger and more physical runner than most people give him credit for. Has the skills and game-breaking ability to be a special back in the NFL.

4. LenDale White, USC – If it weren't for his torn hamstring and questionable work ethic, White would be a top 15 pick for sure. His production on the field can't be ignored. A big back with quick feet, White is a touchdown-scoring machine. Has great vision in the hole but concerns about him being able to control his weight has some teams backing off.

5. Jerious Norwood, Mississippi State – A complete back that's very underrated. Posted good numbers in college despite playing on one of the worst passing offenses in the country. Has the toughness to run inside and the speed to provide the big play. Could end up being better than some of the prospects rated ahead of him.

6. Andre Hall, South Florida – The steal of the draft at the running back position. Isn't huge but looks and plays bigger than his listed weight. Reminded me of Emmitt Smith when I watched him on tape. Played two years at South Florida and recorded 2,731 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns. A big-time sleeper.

7. Maurice Drew, UCLA – If he were a little bit bigger, he would be a first-round selection. Has all the physical ability in the world but at 5-7 and 205 pounds, he just can't be an every-down back in the NFL. Will be an asset to a team as a third-down back and explosive return man. Similar to the Chargers Darren Sproles.

8. Joseph Addai, LSU – Does a lot of things but doesn't do any of them great. Has great straight-line speed but isn't elusive in the open field. Will be a decent NFL role player but never the feature back that some are projecting. An overrated prospect that only started at LSU because of injuries.

9. Jerome Harrison, Washington State – A very interesting prospect. Isn't getting a lot of hype but rushed for over 100 yards in his final 13 college games. Has a lot of upside and could end up being a starter in the NFL at some point. Worst case scenario is Harrison becomes a valuable third-down and change-of-pace back like Kevin Faulk is for the Patriots.

10. Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin – Looks to be one of those guys who will end up being a great college player and only average in the pros. Doesn't like to run inside and bounced a lot of plays to the outside in college. He doesn't have the speed to get away with that in the NFL.

Overrated

Addai– Like I said, he can do a lot of things; he just doesn't do any of them great. Addai is like a more talented Patrick Pass. He's very fast but his speed is minimized because he isn't very elusive and doesn't change direction well. He only started as a senior at LSU because Alley Broussard was injured. Addai can catch the ball well out of the backfield and will help a team as a role player but he's never going to be a great NFL running back.

Calhoun – Calhoun has only carried the load for one season in college and he wore down in his final four games. Wisconsin running backs put up big numbers because when they can run the ball against someone, that's all they do. Calhoun showed on tape a tendency to start a run inside and then bounce it outside but with the speed of NFL defenders, that kind of running style isn't going to work unless you're Barry Sanders. I noticed the same thing about William Green when he came out of college. When runners are hesitant to stick it up inside, they usually struggle in the NFL.

White – I love White as a player but as a person, he raises a lot of red flags. You have to question a guy who gains 15 pounds before the biggest game of his life and then isn't prepared for his pro day. I don't put too much stock in the 225-pound bench press but when a 245-pound back can only do one more rep than the USC punter, that's a problem. A lot of players come out of college with talent but it's the ones who work hard that make the biggest impact in the NFL. If White decides he wants to be great and works hard, he will be another Corey Dillon. If he doesn't, he'll be another Curtis Enis. It's that simple.

Underrated

Norwood – After the big four, I think Norwood is the most complete back in the draft. He carried the entire Mississippi State offense on his shoulders when he was in college, despite the fact that opposing defenses were focused on stopping him every week. He has decent size at 212 pounds and the speed and quickness to make defenders miss. He gets through the hole very quickly and breaks a lot of tackles in the open field. Norwood is one of the few backs in this draft I think can come in and carry the football 20-25 times a game. He could end up being a real find in the third or fourth round.

Hall – Man do I love this guy. Hall is a patient runner who lets his blocks develop. He's listed at 208 pounds but he's a very effective runner between the tackles and in short yardage situations. Hall is an explosive runner once he gets into the open field and very hard to bring down because he runs with a low center of gravity. Didn't get a lot of national coverage but put up big numbers against some pretty good defenses. Like I said, his running style reminds me a lot of Emmitt Smith. If he turns out to be half as good as Emmitt was, some team will have a draft day steal on their hands.

Wali Lundy, Virginia – Lundy started 11 games as a senior but was limited most of the season because of a foot injury. At 218 pounds, he's is one of the few bigger backs in this draft. Lundy is a good all-around running back who scored 52 total touchdowns in his college career. He doesn't have blazing speed but his abilities as a receiver and a kick returner increases his value. Lundy is an interesting prospect because he can do a lot of different things well. Worst-case scenario is he's a decent backup and special teams player. Best case scenario is Lundy turns out to be another Terrell Davis – a player who shared time in college and turns out to be a better pro running back once he's given an opportunity.

Possible Patriots

White – I don't think the Patriots will select a back in the first round but if they do, it could be White if he falls to them. Bill Belichick has shown before that he's willing to take a chance on a player with talent if he thinks that player will buy into the Patriots system. If Belichick talks with White and believes he's committed to being the best player he can be, the Patriots could walk away with Dillon's heir apparent and a top ten talent with pick 21.

Hall– Hall is a player I not only like, he's a guy I think would fit in perfectly with the Patriots. As a rookie, Hall could spell Dillon so the veteran doesn't get worn down and if he shows he's as good as I think he is, the Patriots will have their running back of the future. If he's not as good as I think he is, they'll have a solid third-down back to replace Faulk once he retires. Either way the Patriots win. Hall would be a great fit in New England and a player the Patriots could steal on the second day of the draft.

Drew – It's no secret that the Patriots are looking to upgrade their return game and selecting Drew will certainly do that. The dynamic runner from UCLA won't replace Dillon but he's a player the Patriots can use in a lot of different ways. Drew is basically a smaller version of Bush. He has a lot of power for his size and other than Bush, is the most elusive back in this class. With two third round picks, the Patriots could decide to use one of them on Drew if he's still on the board. At the very least, Drew will give them one of the most dangerous return men in the NFL.

Lundy – At the Combine, Lundy said the Patriots were showing interest in him. He also had one of the best lines of the weekend when he said, "If you want to score touchdowns, give the ball to me." Belichick always says the key to winning football games is scoring more than the other team so in that regard; Lundy would be a good fit. Lundy played at Virginia – under Al Groh – so we know the Patriots have a good scouting report on him. A power back with soft hands, Lundy would be a solid addition to any team with the possibility of some day being a feature back if he gets into the right system.

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