Given the second-year emergence of Rhamondre Stevenson, the glaring holes elsewhere on their roster and the lack of long-term value at the position, it’s difficult to envision the New England Patriots selecting a running back in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
It would be a surprise to oddsmakers, too. FanDuel Sportsbook, specifically, gives the Patriots shorter odds to draft six other positions as opposed to running back. And there’s quite a gap between the position on the sixth line and seventh.
Position of Patriots first drafted player:
Offensive lineman +195
Wide receiver +300
Defensive lineman +1000
Running back +1900
Tight end +1900
However, a mock draft this week from NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has caught our attention. Jeremiah has the Patriots drafting Texas Longhorns product and star running back Bijan Robinson with the No. 14 pick. Again, it would be a surprise not because of Robinson’s skillset — he’s listed sixth on ESPN’s best available and is far and away top running back in the class — but because of other factors.
Among those factors, New England has drafted 13 running backs and 10 of them selected in the third round or later, per NESN.com’s Zack Cox.
Jeremiah, though, acknowledged those sentiments and looked past them.
“The Patriots don’t think like every other franchise,” Jeremiah wrote Tuesday. “I believe they would see Robinson as a valuable addition instead of a player at a non-premium position. He would team up with Rhamondre Stevenson to give New England one of the best backfields in the NFL.”
Should you want to buy what Jeremiah is selling, it creates an interesting Patriots’ draft wager — or perhaps wagers.
One of those bets would be the aforementioned 19-1 for New England to draft a running back with its first pick. Of course, the thing there is that if Robinson is selected before the Patriots are on the clock, they almost certainly will turn to another position. It feels like Robinson-or-bust if — and that’s a big if — the Patriots select a running back.
For that reason, the other option is centered on Robinson.
Electing to make a Robinson-specific wager provides a little extra bang for your buck. For example, a $10 wager for the Patriots to draft Robinson at 20-1 would pay out $210. In contrast, a $10 bet on the Patriots to draft a running back at 19-1 would pay out $200 and a $10 bet on New England to select Robinson at 18-1 would pay out $190.
Nine other teams on FanDuel and DraftKings have shorter odds to draft Robinson, and probably for good reason. A handful of those teams atop the sheet need running back help more than the Patriots. But Jeremiah’s insights paired with the value at sportsbooks nevertheless make for an enticing wager to consider.