After months of studying the NFL draft, we'll start our list of "10 perfect Patriots," narrowing down the list of prospects to a select group that we feel would be ideal (and realistic) for the New England Patriots, while adding a few draft-related thoughts:
Player: Devonta Freeman
School: Florida State
Position: Running back
Listed height/weight: 5--foot-8 1/4, 206 pounds
Scouts Inc. position rank: 6th (scouting profile)
Draft projection: Third-fourth round
Why he's on our list: The Patriots have a spot to fill on the running back depth chart and they figure to look to the draft to do it. Freeman has the combination of on-field résumé/hard-charging approach, versatility and off-field intangibles that seem to be a nice match. He has a different physical makeup than the norm, but at 5-foot-8, that can potentially be an advantage in terms of defenders attempting to locate him behind big linemen. Bill Belichick spent some individual time with Freeman, who delivered on the biggest stages in 2013, as part of his annual scouting tip to Florida.
A feel for the running back class: This is one of the deeper groups in the draft, even if none of them get picked in the first round.
Recommended link: As part of the pre-draft process, Freeman spent time at NFL Network, where he called himself the most complete back in this year's draft.
Key stat: Scored at least one touchdown in each of his final 10 collegiate games.
Workout stat: Ran 4.58 in the 40-yard dash.
Draft strategy: A lot will depend on when the running backs start coming off the board, which is likely to be the second round. Freeman appears to be part of the second tier of backs and if he is on the board at No. 93, the question the team might ask is if it thought he'd be there at picks 130 and 140 in the fourth. Freeman would be a good fit in that range if someone doesn't grab him before it.