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Minicamp profile: could standout XFL RB Jacques Patrick be a fit for the Broncos backfield?

Once an elite, blue-chip prospect who played for a college football blue blood, could running back Jacques Patrick approach his once sky-high potential with the Denver Broncos?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Given the amount of recovery time still perceived to be needed for Javonte Williams, along with the fact that new backup Samaje Perine doesn’t project as a feature back, it perhaps came as a surprise to some that the Denver Broncos chose to pass on selecting a running back in the 2023 NFL Draft.

If Williams cannot regain his pre-injury power and drive, and/or Perine can’t manage a RB1-type of workload should he be called upon, that would leave just Tony Jones, Jr. (67 career carries), former undrafted free agent Damarea Crockett (coming off a torn ACL), minimally used Tyreik McCallister and Tony Badie, and a potential pick-out-of-the-hate undrafted rookie.

Now, Williams not being ready or the same player along with Perine not being able to carry the load are indeed a worst case scenario for the backfield, but it’s still an iffy situation if new coach Sean Payton hopes to be able to use the run game as a weapon, which he historically does. Williams’ health status, and the reality that only Perine has the necessary skill set to spell him in big chunks, does not forecast the sunniest outcome.

Therefore, it should not have come as a surprise when it was announced that former Florida State running back Jacques Patrick, who most recently completed his first XFL season with the San Antonio Brahmas, would be invited to Broncos minicamp. He finished his season second in the league with 443 yards on 115 carries, and he also pulled in 30 catches for 238 yards.

It was enough of a year to attract the attention of Payton and general manager George Paton, and he’ll have his chance next week at the team’s minicamp to prove his production can translate to a higher level of play.

If he can impress the staff enough to be invited to training camp and perhaps earning a roster spot, perhaps the Broncos and Payton can finally get out of him what many expected out of him as a young player.

The Orlando, FL native was regarded as a unanimous top-100 overall recruit and top-five running back prospect in the high school class of 2015, and he ultimately decided to stay close to home, opting to play for Florida State over offers from the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, and Texas A&M. Needless to say, a lot was expected of this young man.

He played four seasons for the Seminoles, and like most blue bloods, he faced competition from equally impressive talent at his position. Ultimately, he would never break through as the top dog in the backfield, backing up Dalvin Cook his first two seasons, splitting reps with Cam Akers in 2017, and eventually getting passed up by Akers in 2018 (aided by an injury to Patrick in 2017 that paved a path for Akers).

He was regarded as a top-25 prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft, but while he was highlighted for his intimidating size and bruising running style at 6-2, 235 lbs, which allowed him to shed off weaker defenders like flies, he raised some red flags with a straightforward, one-dimensional running style and lack of creativity, occasionally even running into the back of his blockers rather than making the correct read. It also didn’t help his cause when he ran a 4.69 forty-yard dash at his pro day.

He would ultimately go undrafted in 2019 and since found brief stints with practice squads, primarily the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers. He now hopes he refined his game enough in the XFL and has learned enough to prove he can be useful to Sean Payton’s offensive scheme.

His size and bulk can be grooved and molded to become something of an x-factor back in the right system, but he’ll have to show he can knock down some of the red flags that have followed him around since Florida State.

At worst, he gets a look, doesn’t pass what the team is looking for, and the search for depth in the backfield continues. At best, a former blue-chip recruit with hopes of NFL stardom can at least moderately approach that lofty outlook and get to write his own ending of a riches-to-rags-back-to-riches story, helping the Broncos revitalization along the way.

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