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RB Daniel Thomas
The Patriots boast a well-rounded running game this year, featuring the skills of starter Benjarvus Green-Ellis. They also rotated in the elusive Danny Woodhead, who filled the role left by the injured Kevin Faulk nicely. But neither has the north-south, arm-breaking running strength to move a stacked pile.
Since the departure of Heath Evans and the days of Antowain Smith, the Patriots have not had a big-bodied back that they hand off to with any regularity. I hesitate to call it a need, but right now there's no one high on New England's depth chart who can consistently gain yardage between the tackles, drag defenders, and fight for the tough short yards.
This year's RB class is a bit thin. After Mark Ingram, there aren't many big names you'll hear called in for duty in the NFL backfield. One slightly under-the-radar player is Kansas State's Daniel Thomas. At 6'2" 228 lbs., Thomas has the motor to run through arm tackles and drag smaller defensive backs for extra yardage. His height adds some value as a receiver out of the backfield, and he has experience as a thrower and a runner in the Wildcat offense, giving him the versatility Bill Belichick loves.
It's optimistic to expect Thomas to be available late in the second round. A realistic catch may be Illinois' Mikel Leshoure. His wrecking ball dimensions (6'0" 230 lbs.) chewed up Big Ten defenses the past two years, posting YPC over 6.0 in 2009 and 2010. He ceiling isn't as high as Thomas', and he has less experience as a receiver, but he would add a downhill element the Patriots currently lack.