4. Fourth Round (103rd Overall): Bucky Irving, RB, Oregon
After utilizing it as a staple in their offense for such a long stretch of their dynasty run, the Patriots have inexplicably gone away from receiving/third-down backs in recent years. For years, New England tapped into the skillsets of backs such as James White, Rex Burkhead, Danny Woodhead, Dion Lewis, and Shane Vereen to pressure opposing defenses with receiving threats out of their backfield.
Well, Oregon back Bucky Irving could inherit that archetype in Van Pelt's new offense. From Pro Football Network, "Irving is a strong receiving presence as a back or can be flexed into the slot and run legitimate routes" and possess "great explosiveness" that empowers him to produce as a "hyper-efficient playmaker who can take any single carry to the house from anywhere on the field."
At 5'10", 195 pounds, Irving's frame does register towards that undersized label that many of the aforementioned Patriots backs also had. Ezekiel Elliott likely has one foot out of the door, and Rhamondre Stevenson has been productive but will be coming off of a season-ending injury.
Once again returning to the objective of supporting Daniels, having a playmaking back that he can check down to when necessary should also help alleviate some pressure.
Stevenson should continue to receive the lion's share of carries while Irving slides into the third down/receiving back role.
In 2023, Irving ran the ball 186 times for 1,180 yards at an impressive 6.3 yards per carry and 11 scores. On the receiving end, he caught 56 passes for 413 yards (7.4 yards per catch) and two scores. The former Duck is a player that Patriots fans should be able to get excited about.