Which running backs stand out from Patriots perspective at 2019 NFL combine

Ryan Hannable
March 01, 2019 - 12:12 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — The running backs met with the media Thursday afternoon at the NFL combine. 

While it isn’t as talented of a group as in years past with players projected to go high in the draft, there are several mid-rounders who could do well for themselves. Relating to the Patriots, it certainly isn’t a top priority, but they could be looking towards the future. If they do select one, it likely will be in the middle-to-late rounds, and not at the top.

Rex Burkhead, who will turn 29 in July, is the fourth-oldest back in the league under contract for 2019, and James White will be a free agent after the 2020 season.

With that in mind, here are five names to keep an eye on from a Patriots perspective, all of which have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

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. When speaking Thursday, he said he also can line up as a receiver if needed.

He also has six career kickoff returns for touchdowns, which only adds to his intrigue. He could potentially be used like Cordarrelle Patterson was this year, although he isn’t even close to as big and running back is his first position. Pollard said he met with the Patriots this week.

Bryce Love, Stanford — Love tore his ACL this past season, but is expected to be ready come Week 1. Going into last year, he was projected as one of the best backs in this class, but the injury obviously hurt his cause. From a Patriots perspective, they could select him and then place him on injured reserve to basically have him on a red-shirt year. With 12 overall selections, they can afford to use a pick on a player like this.

This feels like a Patriot-like move, so if he slips to the middle or late rounds, why not take a shot?

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 has met with the Patriots at the combine.

Miles Sanders, Penn State — Playing behind Saquon Barkley for much of his career at Penn State, he certainly didn’t get the attention he could have received otherwise. Last fall, he finished with 1,274 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, while adding 24 receptions for 139 yards.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder met with the Patriots this week.

Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M — Williams was a three-down back, which is one of the things the Patriots look for. In three years at the school, he ran for over 3,500 yards, and also added 66 receptions. The shifty back has had an informal meeting with New England this week. He certainly wouldn’t be a starter right away, but could be a good player to have stashed away.

Related: Phillip Dorsett open to returning to Patriots, but prepared to test free agent market

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