Quick-hit evaluations of RBs

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
10:30
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Continuing our scouting report of every player on the Patriots' roster, focusing on running backs:

Stevan Ridley (5-11, 220)

Strengths: Quick to the hole. Ridley can make defenders miss and is not an easy pushover with the football in his hands. Good in space and as a screen receiver, can stretch run to the perimeter and also chunk up yards between the tackles. Does a lot of things well, and can be effective in the short passing game.

Limitations: Main crutch as a rookie was inability to hold onto the football. Fumbled twice down the stretch. Did not fumble in training camp and has adopted high-and-tight methodology for carrying the football. Can improve as pass blocker and in blitz recognition.

Shane Vereen (5-9, 205)

Strengths: A dynamic athlete with very good speed and ability to avoid defenders laterally. Can run a broad route tree and align from a receiver set. Has shown improved decisiveness as a runner, and is also patient. Soft hands and reliable with the football.

Limitations: Consistency and staying on the field (at least so far). Vereen’s slow start derived, in part, from an indecisive approach on the field. Seemed too hesitant to trust one skill or the other. Not a power back and not a bruiser. Can be better in protection.

Danny Woodhead (5-8, 200)

Strengths: Elusive. Can make defenders miss in the hole and is a good change-of-direction player. Very intelligent, and can align all over the line of scrimmage in no-huddle offense. A natural hands catcher who can do damage in short passing tree and screens. Understands blitz pick-up and pass protection responsibilities very well. Can also handle kickoff return duties.

Limitations: Size deficient. Not a power player and can be taken down easily on contact. Best utilized on draws and perimeter run plays, not between the tackles. Good speed, but not a home-run hitter. Is a role-player type back, but not a featured back.

Brandon Bolden (5-11, 220)

Strengths: Solid one-cut runner who understands the development of the play in front of him. Does not try to get too much, and has good ability to jump-cut into space. Can catch the football as well, and is tough near the goal line to be a touchdown maker. Has enough bulk to be used in hybrid fullback alignment, and showed some ability to take on blitzers as a pass protector. Very good core special teams value.

Weaknesses: Based on both his punt returns and running, Bolden has shown some struggles with holding onto the football. Not a break-away-into-space athlete, and not a big make-you-miss player. More of a chunk yardage player than a big play threat.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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