Leading into the NFL draft, my "favorite five" prospects for the New England Patriots at their five primary positions of need -- running back, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver -- will be highlighted. Let's start with running back.
Devontae Booker (Utah) -- If he is available at No. 60 or 61, he'd be an ideal pick as a potential three-down option. The question is whether he'll be there after totaling 1,261 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season. The 5-foot-10 3/4, 219-pound Booker had 16 career fumbles, which is one concern. He was a team captain.
Daniel Lasco (Cal) -- The 6-1 3/4, 209-pound Lasco tested well at the NFL combine (e.g. 41 1/2-inch vertical leap), adds value on special teams and enters the league after serving as a two-time captain (331 rushing yards in a committee last season). The Patriots have had prior success with running backs out of Cal and Lasco is a mid-to-later-round projection.
Paul Perkins (UCLA) -- A team captain, the 5-10 3/8, 208-pound Perkins pulled his left hamstring running the 40-yard dash at the combine after a season in which he rushed for 1,343 yards in 2015 and added 30 catches for 242 yards. A mid-round projection, he left UCLA as the school's all-time receptions leader for a running back (80).
Wendell Smallwood (West Virginia) -- One of the better pass-catching running backs in the draft, he recorded the fastest three-cone drill at the combine (6.83) after a 2015 season in which he was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year (1,519 yards, 9 TDs). He is a mid-to-later-round projection.
Jonathan Williams (Arkansas) -- The 5-10 3/4, 220-pound Williams was a team captain but missed the 2015 season after undergoing foot surgery. He runs with a north-south style and totaled 1,190 yards in 2014. He is a mid-round projection.