Rapid reaction: Stevan Ridley

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots selected LSU running back Stevan Ridley with their initial third-round pick (73rd overall). This fills out their offensive backfield and likely means that veterans Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk -- all free agents -- are longer shots to return.

The Patriots obviously liked the depth of this year's running back crop, selecting Shane Vereen in the second round (56th) and Ridley (73rd) in the third round. They complement each other well -- Vereen is an all-around back who catches the ball well and comes from a pro-style offense, while Ridley is a power back at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds.

Add them to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead and the Patriots have revamped their outlook at the position.

One wonders if the Patriots are thinking about altering their offensive approach in 2011, perhaps leaning more on the running game. They have invested significant assets at the position in this draft.

Entering this year, the Patriots hadn't drafted a running back since 2007.