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  Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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A Bunch of Maroney
By Paul Noonan

     Before the draft there were four running backs (Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, DeAngelo Williams, Lendale White) who were in the hunt to be drafted in the first round, with Bush being a no- brainer.  After that it was up in the air.  The other three all had something to offer, but was it enough for teams to risk a first round pick on them.  Many teams have enough of a running game that they could bypass drafting one early.  Yet when the Patriots went on the clock they felt that Maroney was worth the risk.  It’s a risk that could pay off.

             

     Being a fellow Golden Gopher, I’ve gotten to see Maroney first hand all year long.  From what I’ve seen Maroney could be a diamond in the rough or end up being a solid back- up.  Injuries played a part, but Maroney was inconsistent this season for Minnesota.  He did rack up 100+ yards in eight of his eleven games, but in the other three he put up a weak 10, 48 and 85.  And while he was hurting in the bowl game, Maroney did not deliver a big performance with only 109 yards.  Maroney’s biggest performances came against Big Ten rivals Purdue and Wisconsin.  Against Purude, who at the time had the best rushing defense, Maroney had an amazing performance with 46 carries for 217, leading the Gophers to an upset of the then ranked #11 Boilermakers.  In the Wisconsin game, Maroney had his most dominating performance running for 258 yards on 43 tries, including a 93 yard TD run.  And at the end of the year Maroney again bested his yards total finishing his final season with 1,464 rushing yards despite missing one game and playing hurt in a few. 

             

     So the numbers show Maroney is capable of being a good running back.  He is not a very big person, I’ve seen him in person and you would be more likely to think he was a safety, but he is surprisingly strong.  On many occasions Maroney shook off tackles and barreled for a few more yards than he should have.  Maroney is not the fastest runner either, but he has enough speed that he is hard to stop if you give him some open field or he breaks away.  Looking at some of his carry totals, Maroney has shown he can handle a heavy workload.  On the flip side, it has to be taken into account that Maroney played behind one of the best line’s in college football, a line that has been good enough to aid in the Gophers having three consecutive season with two running backs gaining over 1,000 yards on the ground.  The line was anchored by the nation’s best offensive lineman, Greg Eslinger, and All- American Mark Setterstrom.  Maroney was used sparingly inside the ten yard line, leaving most of the grind work to Russell to get into the end zone.  However, he did still finish with ten of his own.  While his total yards were a career high, his yards per carry were a career low, showing that while he can handle a workload, it doesn’t mean it will lead to a great increase in production.

             

     Every running back has his strengths and weaknesses, good games and bad.  With Maroney you get the same deal.  As a fan I looked at games like Purdue and Wisconsin and thought this guy is as good as any running back out there.  Then I would look at Penn State (48 yards) and wonder if he was as good as advertised.  For the Patriots they may end up getting both sides.  In his first couple of years Maroney may struggle a bit, but luckily he has Corey Dillon to lean on.  With a little work and some patience, Maroney could become a great running back.  While I would not expect him to ever be argued as the best running back in the NFL, he conceivably could be a 1,000 yard rusher and a potential Pro- Bowler.  He isn’t a Reggie Bush, but Maroney does have the potential to finally give the Pats the reliable, young running back they have been lacking since Curtis Martin.



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