There are many different players on this team compared to last year. The Patriots acquired four guys from trade, fifteen from free agency, and nine from the NFL Draft. They also lost nine players from trade and free agency and had three players retire.
In this new series, I will be looking at every player from each position leading up to training camp. For this installment I’ll focus on the running backs/fullback. The Patriots have brought in two running backs from free agency and one from the draft. This change is most likely due to the departure of starting running back Dion Lewis this past offseason.
James White #28 (2014-Present)
James White was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has been on both of the Patriots’ Super Bowl winning teams in 2014 and 2016. For Super Bowl 49, James White was inactive for the Patriots 28-24 win over Seattle. However, he was active for Super Bowl 51 against Atlanta. White finished the game with 139 total yards (29 rushing, 110 receiving), three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving), and a two-point conversion. He capped off the Patriots’ 28-3 comeback with his game-winning rushing touchdown in OT. James White broke the Super Bowl record for most points by a single player (20), and tied Terell Davis’ Super Bowl record for touchdowns in a game (3).
— High & Outside Sports (@HighandOutside_) February 6, 2017
White, 26, will be entering his fifth season with the New England Patriots. His first year for the Patriots was nothing special with him only playing in three games an rushing nine times for 38 yards. His second year is where he showed how good he is as a third down running back. He had 40 catches for 410 yards and four touchdowns, while running for 56 yards and two touchdowns. 2016 was White’s best statistical year with 717 total yards and five total touchdowns.
James has shown that he is one of the best third down running backs in the NFL, and will most likely have a roster spot come Week 1.
Sony Michel (Rookie):
Sony Michel was the New England Patriots 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He became the first running back since 2006 drafted by the Patriots in the first round, and the eighth running back taken in the first in franchise history. Michel was the third running back taken in the 2018 NFL Draft (Barkley, Penny).
Michel proved why he should be a first round pick last year when he had his best year in college. His senior season consisted of Michel starting 14 games and attaining 1,323 scrimmage yards and 17 total touchdowns. He helped lead the Georgia Bulldogs all the way to a National Championship appearance last year. Michel had 232 total yards and four touchdowns, including a game-winner in OT of the Rose Bowl.
— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) January 2, 2018
Michel, 23, comes to the Patriots with high expectations as a first round pick. He will look to contribute right way to a Super Bowl-contending team like New England. He will 100% have a roster spot this upcoming season.
Jeremy Hill #33 (2018-Present):
Jeremy Hill was acquired by the Patriots via free agency this past offseason. Hill is a power back who was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played his first four years of his career in Cincinnati, where he had a successful stint for the Bengals.
In Hill’s first season in the NFL he played in all 16 games. In those games he had 1,124 rush yards and nine rushing TDs. His 2015 season was another successful one, with him starting 15 games and having 794 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, which led the league. In 2016 he had 839 rush yards and nine scores, and in 2017 he missed nine games due to injury.
Hill will look to make an immediate impact for the Pats as their go to back on short yardage plays. He will most likely make the 53 man-roster for Week 1.
Rex Burkhead #34 (2017-Present):
Rex Burkhead will be entering his sixth season in the NFL, and his second season for the New England Patriots. The Patriots brought Burkhead in during the 2017 offseason and recently re-signed him for three more years.
Burkhead was an important piece to the offense out of the backfield with his ability to break tackles and catch passes. Rex played in ten games last year and had 264 rush yards and five rush touchdowns. He was also a threat in the passing game with 30 receptions, 254 yards, and three TDs.
— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) December 3, 2017
Rex Burkhead was a very good all around back for the Patriots last year, which is why they brought him back for an extended deal. With Burkhead receiving a contract extension, he will most likely be on the roster this year.
Mike Gillislee #35 (2017-Present):
Like Burkhead, Mike Gillislee will also be entering his sixth year in the NFL and his second with the Patriots. Mike was brought in during the 2017 free agency period, where he signed a two-year deal with New England.
Gillislee was brought in to be a power back on the goal-line and short yardage situations. He showed he could carry that role in the first two games of the 2017 season. In the first game of the year against Kansas City, Gillislee had 45 rush yards and three rush TDs. The next very next game against New Orleans, Gillislee ran for 69 yard and a touchdown. However, in the next six games Gillislee would not have one score, which led to him becoming a healthy-scratch.
Touchdown Mike Gillislee pic.twitter.com/m3aPl8xEdL
— PatriotsNation™️ (@PatsNationTM) September 8, 2017
Mike Gillislee showed how good he could be in weeks one and two last year, but ultimately slowed down for every game after that. With the addition of Jeremy Hill, I believe Mike will not make the 53-man roster.
Brandon Bolden #38 (2012-Present):
Brandon Bolden is the longest-tenured running back the Patriots have. Bolden was released by the Patriots before the 2017 season, but was re-signed two days later. He then signed a one-year contract extension through the upcoming season. Brandon was also apart of both Super Bowl winning teams in 2014 and 2016.
Bolden hasn’t been much of a running-back for the Patriots since he has been in New England. Throughout his six year career, he only has 912 rush yards and six touchdowns. Brandon’s main reason that he is on this team is due to how good he is on special teams.
— NFL (@NFLonLive) November 30, 2015
Brandon will still have to fight to make a roster spot for the upcoming season, but with him proving how valuable he is on special teams I believe he will make it.
James Develin #46 (2012-Present):
James Develin is coming off his best year in the NFL. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after six years in the NFL. Develin has consistently proven that he is one of the best fullbacks in the NFL today. He signed a two-year contract extension with the Patriots this past offseason.
Develin is more of a blocking fullback then a receiving-running fullback. However, he does have 176 total yards and one career TD. He has shown his durability the past few years with him playing in every game the past four years.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) June 14, 2018
James will most likely be on the roster come Week 1 due to his toughness in the run game and his ability to protect the passer.
Ralph Webb (Rookie):
Ralph Webb is entering his rookie season as an undrafted rookie from Vanderbilt. Webb played in all over Vanderbilt’s games the past four years and has proven why he deserved to be signed.
Webb’s senior season consisted of him having 1019 total yards and 11 TDs. In total he had 4,750 total yards and 35 scores.
Webb has shown what he can do as a duel-threat back in college, but I believe his best chance to make it to the Patriots is by practice squad. The Patriots have a lot of depth at running back and unless Webb does something crazy in training camp and pre-season, I don’t see him making the roster.
Overall, the Patriots have a lot of options at running back and will look to showcase that position in the upcoming season.