Since Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli arrived in New England in 2000, the Patriots haven’t selected a running back in the first two rounds of the draft.
The team has picked four running backs over that time — third-rounder J.R. Redmond (2000), fourth-rounder Cedric Cobbs (2004) and seventh-rounders Patrick Pass (2000) and Antwoine Womack (2002).
There is no telling if the Patriots might break that trend in 2006, although the team did host running back Laurence Maroney on a pre-draft visit at Gillette Stadium last week, according to Maroney’s agent.
Maroney (5-11, 217), who leaves the University of Minnesota after his junior season, is projected as a first-round pick. He became the first player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. Maroney totaled 4,797 all-purpose yards over his career, eclipsing 100 yards rushing in 21 games.
Just because a team hosts a player on a pre-draft visit doesn’t necessarily mean it has plans to draft the player. Vikings coach Brad Childress probably spoke for most teams when he recently told the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “All of [the visitors] fit into different categories, whether it’s a medical question, a personality question or a guy that we’re legitimately interested in.”
Running back is one of the older positions on the Patriots’ roster. Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk and Patrick Pass are the top three players on the depth chart, and Dillon is 31, Faulk turns 30 in June, and Pass is 28.
EXTRA POINT: Tebucky Jones said he will wear his old jersey number, 34. Cedric Cobbs was one of the last Patriots players to wear the number.