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

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.


'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

Rob Gronkowski, decked out in his finest St. Patrick's Day duds over the weekend in Nashville, reportedly tried to shed some light on his NFL future.

Of course, while Gronk was doing Gronk things, he told a Patriots fan one thing and a reporter another.

Breech is an NFL writer for His father is former Cincinnati Bengals kicker Jim Breech. And the "69ers" aren't a real team.


AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

The Patriots' "direction" never really changes. They're always "going for it" because they're always one of the best teams in the league. 

The rest of the AFC East is usually in flux. The other teams range from hoping for 8-8 to trying to bottom out in hopes of a high draft pick. Yet right now, it seems the stars are aligning and that the Jets, Bills and Dolphins all have the mindset: Change things now and be ready to pounce once Brady is gone. 

The Jets traded up to No. 3 on Saturday, assuring themselves a chance at one of this draft's top quarterbacks. The Bills, with picks Nos. 12 and 22, are expected by pundits to make a similar move up. The Dolphins, fresh off cutting bait with Ndamukong Suh in an attempt at a culture change, have the 11th pick and could use it on a quarterback to either push or replace Ryan Tannehill. 

None of the three teams are close to pushing the Patriots as long as Brady's around, even with the Bills coming off a season in which they reached the playoffs. Yet there's a two-or-three-year plan on which all three teams could have designs: Get the quarterback now, build around him and be in a good situation by the time Brady is done. 

We've seen these teams try to rebuild before during the Brady Era, with only limited success. Mark Sanchez worked out better in New York than anyone could have initially expected, but that success lasted way shorter than any believers could have hoped. Now, it seems they try again. 

Over in Buffalo, the end of the Tyrod Taylor era hardly means the beginning of the Nathan Peterman era. Those two first-rounders should easily be able to get the Bills into the top five, and they've also got two second-rounders and two third-rounders. Hell, they have the pieces to get to No. 1 if Cleveland is bold enough to pass on their choice of Darnold/Rosen/Allen/Mayfield. 

The Dolphins are in the more interesting spot. Tannehill missed all of last season and he's 29. If you're six years into your career and your team still isn't totally sure if you can be one of the better QBs in the league, you probably aren't one of the better QBs in the league. At the very least, Lamar Jackson should be there at No. 11. They could also trade up. 

At the start of last season, the Patriots had far and away the two best QBs in the AFC East. Now, it stands to reason that at least two of their divisional opponents (the Jets and Bills) will come away with what they hope are franchise quarterbacks. And if any of these guys hit, the Pats will have gone from the best QB situation in the NFL to seeing some actual competition waiting for them by the time their own quarterback is done. 

Of course, all three of these teams usually suck at everything, so it shouldn't be a big deal.