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ESPN's Mike Reiss highlights Patriots rookie RB Pierre Strong Jr. as a potential replacement for James White's passing-game usage if the veteran's hip doesn't allow him to begin the regular season on time. Strong's HC at South Dakota State called the RB's receiving "his greatest strength" and also lauded his ability as a pass protector. Strong also posted strong rushing numbers, including career highs of 1,686 yards and 240 carries (7.0 per rush) in his final season for the Jackrabbits. He then led all RBs at the Scouting Combine with a 4.37-second 40 at 5'11, 207 pounds. New England sports Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as primary rushers, with 6th-round rookie Kevin Harris joining the mix there. Strong's primary competition for a "3rd-down" role, though, looks like J.J. Taylor and Ty Montgomery -- if White's not ready. New England tends to lean away from giving significant work to rookie RBs but had Stevenson ranking 2nd on the team in touches and total opportunities as a rookie just last year. Strong is interesting as an end-of-draft consideration for fantasy. He'll get more interesting the longer White stays on the PUP list.

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South Dakota State RB Pierre Strong went to the Patriots in the 4th round of the NFL Draft. Strong brings stellar speed for the position (4.37-second 40) in a frame similar to Tony Pollard’s. He racked up three 1,000-yard rushing seasons over 4 years (plus a redshirt campaign) at South Dakota State, averaging 7.2 yards per carry for his career. Strong added decent receiving production, including 42 total receptions over his final 2 years. He led all of FCS in rushing yards and ranked 2nd in rushing TDs. Strong joins a crowded New England backfield alongside Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White and others – although Strong’s speed is something those other guys can’t match.

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