Tailback might not be the Patriots' biggest need entering the draft a week from today, but with three 30-somethings at the position, it's fair to say it'll be addressed somewhere along the way.
If it's early -- like 22d overall -- maybe we shouldn't bet against it being Ryan Mathews. Fresno State coach Pat Hill, an admittedly biased party in all this, thinks it makes sense. And in addition to having a pretty successful run there with the Bulldogs, and being a former Belichick assistant (Cleveland's tight ends coach from 1992-95), he's got an extensive history of sending players to New England, with Fresno-exes Logan Mankins, James Sanders, and Ryan Wendell on the Patriot roster.
"[Mathews] loves to play," Hill says. "He's a football player, guy loves football. He's their type of guy, and I can say that very easily. Absolutely, their type guy. Just a beast of a back and a great person."
Mathews rushed for 1,808 yards on a 6.6-yard average and scored 19 touchdowns as a junior. Hill points, too, to the 5.6-yard average (19 carries, 107 yards) that Mathews posted against Wisconsin's stout run defense.
So at 5 feet 11 inches and 218 pounds, who does Mathews compare to? Hill draws an interesting one.
"He's a beast, he's like a Logan Mankins," Hill said. "Just like him. He'll play immediately."
If the Patriots were going to get Mankins-like production at tailback out of Mathews then, well, he probably wouldn't be a bad pick at 22.