Cordarrelle Patterson: How the Patriots have turned the draft flop into a star running back

Green Bay Packers v New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are doing exactly what they need to do in the 2018 NFL season so far. 

Much like the Golden State Warriors, the Patriots are keeping themselves busy and ticking over in the regular season as they look ahead to the postseason and make sure they do what they have to in order to get there.

Past the halfway point of the season, they sit atop the AFC East with a 7-2 record, but have had to overcome some adversity.

After selecting running back Sony Michel from Georgia with the 31st overall pick in the Draft, the Patriots thought they had shored their running game up for the considerable future.

The talented Michel had shown what he can do in a great season for the Bulldogs in 2017, being one of the main factors in getting them to that National Championship game against Alabama, but unfortunately his body has so far failed him this year.

Michel suffered a knee injury in training camp causing him to miss the entire preseason, eventually debuting in Week 2. He recently picked up yet another knee injury against the Chicago Bears, and was forced to the sidelines. 

In his place, the Patriots had two men: James White, the shifty elusive back, and Kenjon Barner, another smaller back who is on his 6th team in six seasons. 

So, instead of signing a free agent, Bill Belichick decided to mix things up like the mad football scientist that he is. Enter Cordarrelle Patterson.

An explosive athlete who was picked in the first round out of college, Patterson hasn't been able to firmly insert himself into a WR corps since being drafted in 2013 - with his best season only having 469 yards and 4 TDs to show for it.

And he is now the New England Patriots power back.  

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions

Belichick did what no one else thought to do with Patterson, the man with a 4.42 40-yard-dash and move him to running back.

Since then, Patterson has impressed. After rushing 10 times for 38 yards against the Bills defensive line, the 27-year-old put on a show against the Packers as he ran for 61 yards and a TD at a pace of 5.5 yards per carry. The Packers couldn't stop him!

How has Belichick done this? By keeping it so simple. 

Seeing as Patterson has never been a full-time running back, he doesn't have the experience of making reads and reacting to lineman to find holes to burst through.

Instead, Belichick says to Patterson "follow your fullback". And that's what he's done. 

Against the Packers, nearly all of Patterson's runs came on simple plays where all he had to do was follow James Develin and run into the space that he creates. 

Bill Belichick has turned a potentially destabilizing injury into an opportunity to do something different and he's reaping the rewards. 

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