In addition to discussing possible first-round draft choices at the Patriots’ pre-draft party Saturday night for season-ticket holders –- which was presented by SportsCenter and ESPNBoston.com -– time was spent dissecting possible second-round picks.
ESPN’s Michael Smith, who emceed the event, directed the discussion and had ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay breaking down the type of talent the Patriots might expect to be choosing from.
Texas Christian outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, Clemson outside linebacker Ricky Sapp, Utah outside linebacker Koa Misi, Brigham Young tight end Dennis Pitta and Iowa cornerback Amari Spievey were some of the names mentioned by McShay.
As the panel chimed in, Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate, North Carolina defensive lineman Cam Thomas, Southern California receiver Damian Williams and University of Miami tight end Jimmy Graham entered the discussion as possible fits for New England.
Sitting at the end of the set, ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi then broke things down by focusing on the running back spot. When Bruschi mentioned running back, the crowd cheered.
“I want to go to a position where a lot of people, and a lot of fans watching the Patriots, have grown impatient. That’s running back,” Bruschi said.
“I know that a lot of people have seen the developmental process of Laurence Maroney and it seems like it’s gone on for a long time. I know a lot of you have been frustrated with him. I know Laurence, he’s a hard worker, he does a lot of things right. But you have to go by what you see on the film and he’s struggled at times.
“A guy that I watched a lot of and am sort a fan of is Toby Gerhart, from Stanford. He was a Heisman finalist. If he’s still there, we’ll see. He’s a guy that runs hard.
“The way Bill [Belichick] likes to see running backs run is get yardage -– just get what you can get and then get out. So run straight up the field. This is what this kid is, you see him running through guys -– straight up the field, North-South, get your yards, stop dancing, and it’s second-and-2, second-and-1. That’s what everybody wants.
“Can Laurence Maroney still do that? I believe he can. But if they’ve grown a little bit impatient with it, and then this guy is still sitting there, it’s a possibility.”