The Patriots New Thunder & Lightning: NFL Draft
Bill Belichick surprised people by selecting Stevan Ridley and Shane early in the 2011 NFL Draft. After finding success at the bottom of the scrap-heap with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, the coach has upgraded in a major way. The two should form the perfect combination of speed and size. I was driven to write this post because of misconceptions about these team players being spoken and written. Let me tell you about these players and why the Patriots made two smart moves.
Stevan Ridley is a tough inside runner from LSU. He only started full-time for one season (247-1147-15) and flew under the radar of many draft analysts after coming out as a junior. I look at him as the successor to Maroney, who was traded last season since he was a disappointment. Listed at 6’0 223, Ridley does not shy away from contact, he runs through it. He runs with an attitude with a strong leg drive. I have heard people on ESPN and other outlets compare him to Kevin Faulk and this is coming off-base.
If there’s one thing you need to know about Shane Vereen it’s that he can fly. He has truly elite speed and does a good job catching the ball. Averaged over 5.0 yards per carry all three years and over 9.0 per catch the last two. As soon as they drafted him, I had a flashback to the 4&2 play versus the Colts were Faulk was stopped short of the 1st on the quick out. In my opinion, Vereen is the next Kevin Faulk. A third down/change of pace back who can fly and get to the sticks quick. Two years ago with him and Best, Cal had one of the fastest backfields I’ve ever seen.
The Patriots know they have to run the ball to be successful, especially against the Jets. Many thought New England would look for a WR, but we saw what they did with Branch and Tate is on his way (I believe). Ridley and Vereen form the classic thunder & lightning combination. Running back is perhaps the easiest position to make the transition to the NFL. While the running back is never a certain thing in New England, I feel confident saying the Patriots did well to draft a backfield of the future who could contribute now.
Entry filed under: NFL. Tags: 2011, 2011 nfl season, bill belichick, california, danny woodhead, Fantasy Football, fantasy football rb, ffb, lawerence maroney, lsu, new england patriots, NFL, RB, running back, shane vereen, stevan ridley.