NFL Rumors: New England Patriots Interested in Adding "Blue-Chip" Running Back Prospect

The New England Patriots are prioritizing improving their struggling offense this offseason, and that may include adding a potential star at running back. The Athletic's Jeff Howe reports the team has shown an interest in adding a "blue-chip" prospect via the draft.

Far and away the top back in this year's draft class is Bijan Robinson. The 2022 Doak Walker Award winner compiled 3410 rushing yards, 805 receiving yards, and 41 total touchdowns over 31 appearances for the Texas Longhorns. Robinson has ideal size (5'11", 215 lbs) and explosiveness for the position. His 4.46-second 40-yard dash, 37" vertical leap, and 10'4" broad jump were all among the best marks at this year's combine for running backs.

The Patriots have typically valued running backs highly under Bill Belichick, spending first-round picks on Laurence Maroney in 2006 and Sony Michel in 2018 and a second-round pick on Shane Vereen in 2011. Those backs didn't exactly set the world on fire; the Patriots only have one Pro Bowl appearance from a running back since 2000 (Corey Dillon in 2004, who the Patriots traded a second-round pick for prior to the 2004 season). But Robinson is a rare prospect by all accounts. The Patriots would likely have to spend their 14th overall pick in this year's draft to nab him.

Despite their offensive struggles in the post-Tom Brady era, the Patriots have run the ball competently in recent years. They've averaged 126.2 rushing yards per game since 2019 even without a true star at running back (sorry, Rhamondre Stevenson). If Robinson is a truly transcendent back, he can help the Patriots. But mildly improving their run game isn't suddenly going to transform the Patriots into a contender. Until they fix their passing attack and settle on a quarterback, they're going nowhere.

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