|The Yankees Lost, Ellsbury Got Benched, and I’m Still Giddy||Three Red Sox Strengths||Patriots Front Seven Will be Challenged by Cowboys||Patriots RBs LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis: The New Thunder and Lightning|
2010 stats: 1,214 yards, 4.3 yards-per-carry, 15 touchdowns | 71 receptions, 594 yards, 5 touchdowns
If DeMarco Murray stayed healthy at Oklahoma he would be top 10 lock. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Murray missed a couple of games in 2009 with a nagging hamstring injury and five total throughout his red-shirt freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Injuries aside, Murray is still considered one of the best running backs in Oklahoma Sooners history. Murray and his stout frame bring a lot to the table, not only with his running ability, but in the receiving game as well. In 2010, Murray led all running backs with 71 receptions, next in line was Tavon Austin of West Virginia — who is more utilized as a receiver than running back — with 58 catches. Murray’s soft hands and ability to run crisp routes caused mismatches for any linebacker or cornerback, in zone coverage.
In terms of running the rock, Murray is even more impressive. Murray runs with exceptional patience and vision. Physically, Murray’s very agile and packs a punch to steamroll the defender. One negative aspect of Murray’s game is that he runs high, similar to Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden. In the NFL, this could cause problems for Murray, even though he has never fumbled at the collegiate level.
Murray maintains a hard working mentality and that paired with his two-dimensional offensive game will make him appealing to a team late in the first round.
Last season the Patriots statistically had the fourth best running attack, averaging 113 yards-per-game. Both BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead surprised everyone with their overachieving play. For the first time since Corey Dillon in 2004, the Patriots had a running back who rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season.
But, even still, adding a running back in the draft seems like a likely option. In the 28-21 defeat by the New York Jets in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Woodhead-Green-Ellis combo rushed for only 89 yards on the ground. Because of this, the Patriots had to rely on quarterback Tom Brady’s right arm. Forty-five passes later, the Patriots kissed their Super Bowl hopes goodbye.
Am I stating that the Patriots need a running back off one playoff performance? No. But, the act of a surprise is always a good thing. Nobody within the NFL had time to react to this sudden running back tandem. Now with a year of tape, teams will know that Woodhead has to be stopped out of the backfield and that he strives off of off-tackle runs.
Murray would give the Patriots an every down back and another threat for Brady. Former Patriots back Laurence Maroney never lived up to expectations partly because the coaching staff wanted him to be a better receiver out of the backfield. Maroney was one-dimensional. When he entered the game you knew it was a run, when Kevin Faulk trotted in, it was a pass.
Murray will keep teams off balance and adds a big-time back presence to the mix. Adding Murray with Green-Ellis and Woodhead could give the Patriots the best running game in the entire NFL for years to come.
Follow me on Twitter: @M_Marcantonio