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Receivers and Running Backs Offer Patriots Intrigue at NFL Scouting Combine

The wide receivers and running backs took to the podiums at the NFL Scouting Combine, offering an intriguing array of options that could fit the Patriots biggest needs.

LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers and Michigan running back Blake Corum address the media at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024.
LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers and Michigan running back Blake Corum address the media at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024.

Indianapolis - Friday was a big day at the NFL Scouting Combine for those interested in the Patriots biggest positions of need, especially after Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf said earlier this week that the team must "weaponize" their offense. Along with the quarterbacks, the wide receivers and the running backs took to the podiums, offering an intriguing array of options that could fit in New England.

Though top-rated receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. declined to speak to the media, LSU's Malik Nabers and Washington's Rome Odunze both made appearances as the talented duo is likely to secure their spots as top-15 picks in this April's draft, likely putting them out of range for the Patriots.

"Of course," said Nabers when asked if he's the top receiver in the class. "I am able to play outside, inside, go against elite corners every game, and still put up big numbers are the end of the day."

LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers (8).
LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers (8).

Despite the Patriots limited chances at Nabers or Odunze, this is yet another stacked draft class at the wide receiver position with impact players to be had well into the draft's second day.

LSU's Brian Thomas, who combined with Nabers to form a devastating duo for the Tigers, as well as Texas' Adonai Mitchell are intriguing players who could sneak into the first round, but could fall into the early second round and find themselves targets of New England.

Thomas confirmed he had met with the Pats, "It was great just being able to be in there with them. It was just talking a lot of football," said Thomas, while Mitchell was excited to show his athletic prowess during Saturday's on-field drills.

"The work on the field, that's going to show," said Mitchell. "A lot of things go without being said. Just the extra work I'm willing to put in, the extra studying I'm willing to put in, how I learn plays, who I am every day."

South Carolina's Xavier Leggette confirmed he had also met with the Patriots, as the team continues to mine the talented class for quality fits. Michigan's Roman Wilson stood out at the Senior Bowl, and self-scouted himself as, "Just a dog willing to do whatever it takes to win, creative in his routes, explosive, a playmaker, consistent, reliable, that's how I like to describe myself."

Both could be good fits for New England's offensive needs.

Wide receiver isn't the only way the Patriots could look to provide a boost on O, as the running backs also made their appearances in Indy. A devalued position these days, there should be plenty of mid- and late-round options for the Patriots to consider at running back to complement Rhamondre Stevenson, who is returning from a season-ending injury while entering the final year of his rookie deal.

Michigan running back Blake Corum (2).
Michigan running back Blake Corum (2).

Blake Corum is another Michigan product who could fit that bill, with the explosive back coming off strong performances in the Wolverine's run to a national title. Corum was one of few prospects to highlight his excitement to not only perform on the field, but off it as well.

"I'm excited to contribute on the field, but I'm even more excited about getting involved in the community," said Corum.

Oregon's Bucky Irving is a similarly explosive player who could make waves for New England's backfield, while UNH's Dylan Laube, who had an informal meeting with the Pats at the Senior Bowl, could provide a similar skillset from the FCS level. Laube told reporters he believed his ability to line up anywhere should help him stand out in this year's class.

"For me, I'm able to put myself in the slot, out wide at X, Z, H, and kind of able to play as a true receiver and as a true running back also," said Laube.

There are a number of good potential running back fits for the Patriots in this year's class that shouldn't cost a high-round pick, yet still deliver versatility and explosiveness.

The 2024 NFL Scouting Combine's interview portion will end on Saturday with the offensive linemen, just as the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs take to the field for testing inside Lucas Oil Stadium, however, Patriots.com's offseason coverage is just ramping up. Stay tuned for full free agency previews as well as our first official mock drafts of the spring once New England fills some holes with available veterans.

Friday's media availability confirmed though that this is a good year to make over an offense via the most important team building avenue, the draft.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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