[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="434846"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]While some of his counterparts were fortunate enough to get some shiny new toys to work with, running backs coach Ivan Fears will basically need to make do with what he had a year ago. Aside from adding veteran free agent Donald Brown to the mix, the Patriots depth chart at running back is currently quite similar to the one that opened last season.
The topic of the team's decision to pass on a running back over the weekend was not broached, but the veteran coach offered plenty of thoughts on what goes into the evaluation process of a college runner.
"The things we look for are the things they're going to have to do in the league," Fears began. "One thing they have to make plays on their own. That's what it's all about. A lot of guys can run through a gigantic hole but if he can't make something happen he reaches the first defender that comes to him then he's an average Joe. You're looking for those guys who make plays on their own and guys that can do something exceptional if he can. The exceptional guy is the rare guy, the force like [Ohio State's] Ezekiel [Elliott] who came out, but we evaluate the guy on his abilities other than what's given to him. What does he do on his own?
Fears was just getting started.
"He's got to be able to pass protect," he continued. "If you can't pass protect you can't play … if he can't pass protect, who are we kidding, in our league? Can he route run, catch he catch, can he make plays in the passing game? What does he do with the ball when he has the ball in his hands?
"How many opportunities does he get? When you watch the game you get a feel for how the college coaches feel about him. When does have the ball? How often does he have the ball? Is he a feature guy or just a role guy? What is he for them? They're telling you right there what's going on with him. Then you have to see exactly what he's able to do when he does have it and go from there."