Draft could help Patriots' lack of a breakaway threat at RB

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- What might the New England Patriots be looking for at the running back position in the 2018 NFL draft?

Need rating: Fifth.

Current personnel: Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, Brandon Bolden.

What's missing? With Dion Lewis signing with the Titans in free agency, the Patriots lost a dynamic threat and playmaker. Adding more speed to the group would be ideal.

2018 draft class primer: One of the strongest positions in the draft, along with off-the-line linebacker, quarterback and interior offensive line.

Five who fit for the Patriots: Derrius Guice (LSU), Ronald Jones (Southern Cal), Sony Michel (Georgia), Akrum Wadley (Iowa), Mark Walton (Miami).

Key stat: The Patriots haven't selected a running back in the draft since 2014 (White).

My take: While the Patriots might have greater needs in other areas, it wouldn't be a surprise if they strongly consider players like Guice and Michel late in the first round (if available) because they might fall into the "player value" category that Bill Belichick referenced late last week. While the Patriots could play a game tomorrow with their current running back personnel, the lack of a breakaway threat stands out. So there would be mild surprise if the Patriots don't come out of the draft attempting to address that; and in that sense, this looks like a year where supply meets their demand. Because the class is considered deep, the Patriots will also have to consider if it might be smarter to draft at a different position early, knowing they will potentially still have a good chance to add a running back as the draft progresses.