The New England Patriots are reportedly interested in drafting a high-profile running back in this year’s NFL Draft. Bijan Robinson from Texas and Jahmyr Gibbs from Alabama have been named as leading candidates for one of New England’s early draft picks.

The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported news of the Patriots’ interest in running backs, which comes at a time of massive turnover for the team’s offense. While Mac Jones maintains control as quarterback (for now), New England has made significant changes nearly everywhere else, replacing receiver Jakobi Meyers with Juju Smith-Schuster and tight end Jonnu Smith with Mike Gesicki.

Drafting Robinson or Gibbs in New England would pair the prospective rookie with breakout star ball carrier Rhamondre Stevenson, who earned an increasingly prominent role in 2022 and rushed for 1,040 yards despite starting in just seven games. Stevenson has had success as a rusher but has proven versatile as a pass catcher as well. It is unclear how he would work alongside rookies like Robinson or Gibbs in a refreshed Patriots offense.

With a stifling defense but several glaring issues remaining at other offensive positions, running back does not stick out as an overly pressing need with Stevenson in the backfield. That being said, Damien Harris’ move to the Buffalo Bills in the offseason could have an impact on rushing production, and the opportunity to develop a rookie in a change-of-pace role early on could pay dividends down the line.

Beyond draft talk, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have become increasingly involved in the controversy surrounding Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, exacerbated by Jones’ poor play last season.

Belichick and Jones have reportedly been at odds in the offseason and the coach has been rumored to be seeking trade partners for the young quarterback. Despite an unexpectedly warm meeting with Jackson, however, Belichick has not yet firmly indicated that he intends to make a move at the position. Backup quarterback Bailey Zappe also remains a focus for the team after the rookie made four appearances in 2022.

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