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The trade of RB Laurence Maroney scars the once promising running back as a draft bust. Who did the Patriots miss out on during the 2006 NFL Draft? Why didn’t Maroney click with the Patriots system?
In 2006, the New England Patriots selected RB Laurence Maroney from the University of Minnesota with the 21st overall pick in the NFL Draft. Excitement spread through out the Patriot fan base as their home team finally drafted a running back in the first-round. Their solution for their uncertain running game for future years was solved.
Maroney excited many in his rookie season. He showed glimpses of greatness splitting time with an aging Corey Dillion while posting 745 yards on the ground with six touchdowns. Additionally, the Patriots promising running back returned two kick-offs for touchdowns. This kid can do it all, huh?
Following Dillion’s release in the 2007 offseason, Maroney was named starting running back. The majority felt that Maroney would easily surpass the 1,000 yard mark to further propel him into a downright stud of a running back and yet another weapon developed by Belichick’s flawless drafting ability.
Even though Maroney did not surpass the 1,000-yard plateau due to a three-game groin injury (835 yards), he did impress during the Patriots undefeated regular season. He went on to shine during the playoffs, racking up 244 yards with two touchdowns in merely two games.
Ok. Now he is going to take off in 2008.
In 2008, Maroney was shelved on season-ending IR with a shoulder injury after a minuscule three games.
That’s when Maroney’s stock began to plummet not only with the New England fans, but with the Patriots’ coaching staff.
In the 2009 offseason, the Patriots signed both Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor, further propelling the questions surrounding Maroney’s toughness and capability to be a quality starting running back in the National Football League. However, the 24-year-old did have a rather productive season, running 745 yards with nine touchdowns.
However, he only started in five of those games. The central reason for his minimal starts in 2009 was simply because Belichick did not trust him in big situations. He fumbled three times, losing all three.
Here we are early in the 2010 season. Maroney appeared rarely in the pre-season and was inactive for the Patriots first game of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals. During this week, prepping for the rival (and quite distracted) New York Jets, Belichick and Co. admitted their draft blunder and traded away their once up and coming running back for a 2011 fourth-round draft pick.
In Belichick’s tenure with the Patriots, the choice of Maroney in the 2006 NFL Draft will most certainly be filed under “busts”. Furthermore, only K Stephen Gostkowski remains from the Patriots draft class of 2006.
Most notably, fingers will be pointed at Belichick for passing on successful NFL running backs taken after Maroney, such as the Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams (27th pick) and the Colts’ Joseph Addai (30th pick). Williams has shined, posting two consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus yards. Addai has grown to be one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets out of the backfield with three seasons of 40-plus receptions. Much like Williams, Addai has also surpassed 1,000-plus yards twice.
Was it the Patriots system? Was it Maroney’s “dancing” feet and indecisiveness? Was he soft? Or did the Patriots simply lose faith and confidence in Maroney?
Most likely, it’s a combination of all of the above.
Maroney showed teases of being a dynamic running back. He thrilled us of a prosperous future. Yet, he will now only be considered a might-have-been.