Why he’s on our list: Hardesty is one of the bigger backs in the draft who runs with a powerful style. The Patriots also hosted him on a pre-draft visit at Gillette Stadium, a likely sign that he is still under strong consideration late in the scouting process. If the team is thinking about grooming another running back, a player like Hardesty could learn from veterans Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk, all of whom are in the final year of their contracts. The Patriots don’t have a third-round draft choice at this time, which is a factor to consider.
Recommended link: Chris Low, who covers the Southeastern Conference for ESPN.com, had a Q&A with Hardesty, who talks about admiring the late Walter Payton and his injury history.
Key stat: He emerged in his final season, totaling 1,345 rushing yards and 302 receiving yards.
Workout stat: He posted a 41-inch vertical jump at the combine, the best mark at the position.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “Hardesty isn’t an elusive open-field runner who can break defenders’ ankles with any consistency and he runs a little too high, especially considering that there are some concerns about his durability. However, the 225-pound back has the balance, vision and lower body strength to develop into an excellent between-the-tackles runner in the NFL. In addition, he’s fast enough to turn the corner on occasion and he showed teams that he can contribute as a receiver out of the backfield by catching the ball well last year. He could be a steal if he can stay healthy.”