NFL Draft: Patriots Can't Look to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead to Shoulder Load in 2011

Tim GarrityContributor IApril 7, 2011

New England Patraiots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis ripped off 1,008 yards for a 4.4 yard average while adding an additional 13 touchdowns. Scrappy Danny Woodhead contributed 547 yards for a 5.6 yard average and another five rushing touchdowns. It was a great season as the Patriots stormed through the regular season to a 14-2 record. I just don’t want to do it again.

You heard me right; I’m not comfortable relying on these two to carry the load next season (if there is one). Is anyone? A common refrain during games when Woodhead had the ball between my friends and I was “How does he do that?” It was awesome, but it’s also an expression of the supreme lack of confidence you have in your running back when you’re amazed he can run the ball between the tackles.

BenJarvus was solid, a four yards and a cloud of dust type of back, but he was never a threat to break off a 20, 30, even 40 yard run. Truth be told, "the Law Firm" was almost robotic in his running style, taking the handoff and plunging forward, which is more than one could say to the his predecessor, Lawrence Maroney.

Green-Ellis’s running style is fine, so long as he is a complement to a more sturdy, dynamic starter. Woodhead’s a great change of pace back, a suitable replacement for Kevin Faulk, but I’d only like to see him in those third down situations Faulk was famous for. The Patriots need a solid presence in their backfield, a guy they can hand the ball to some 20 times a game. It’s something they haven’t had since Corey Dillon and his stellar 2004 season.

They need that presence for a long time too, as Brady isn’t exactly getting younger and there will eventually come a time when he’ll need a Terrell Davis to his John Elway. That means no more retreads; something Belichick and the Patriots front office salivate over. The Corey Dillon sequels in 2005 and 2006 really were worse than the Ocean’s Eleven sequels. The Fred Taylor show, Bill, wasn’t that cool. Please, for the sanity of all surrounding Foxboro, lose Clinton Portis’s number.

It doesn’t even have to be a high-round pick; we recognize the Patriots have a lot of holes to fill on both the offensive and defensive lines and at outside linebacker. We’re not demanding a Mark Ingram here. One option could be Mikel Leshoure from Illinois. At 6’0” and 227 pounds, he’s similar to Dillon body-wise and reportedly excels at pass blocking and receiving the ball out of the backfield. These are two particular skills to a team with a QB over 30 and looking to reincorporate the screen pass it used to thrive upon.

It’ll be interesting to see where New England goes in the draft. You never really know with he in the gray-hooded sweatshirt, but it’d be nice to see them get a solid back for the future. So do it up Bill, make it so and please, we’re begging you, when you the agents for Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee call, don’t pick up the phone.

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