Free Agent Spotlight – Travaris Cadet

The receiving running back has always been important for the Patriots with Brady at QB. But it has also been a position where the Patriots have had success with replacing the old guy with a new guy when age or contract talks hit. From Kevin Faulk, to Danny Woodhead, to Shane Vereen. Can Travaris Cadet be the next succesful receiving back for the Patriots?

Cadet main image

In this article series I will take a look at some of the free agents that the Patriots have brought in during the 2015 off-season and show what I think they can bring to the Patriots. You can find the previous articles here

Travaris Cadet has so far in his career been more of a receiver that moves all round the field, than he has been a regular running back. He only has 11 runs in his NFL career, but 45 catches(10 runs, 38 catches in 2014). In the Saints offense he was used both in the backfield and lined up on the line as a receiver on the line of scrimmage, mostly in the slot. He mostly ran short routes like swings, outs, and quick stuff over the middle, but also some deeper routes.

As a receiver

When catching the ball Cadet shows soft hands and catches without having the ball bobble in his hands.  He’s quick at securing the ball and turning up field after the catch, which gives him a very good opportunity to gain yards after the catch without having to break a tackle.  I didn’t see any occasions where he turned up field before he had secured the ball. Some receivers tend to do that, which often leads to the receiver dropping the ball.

 

Quick out

Cadet in red

Cadet in red

In this play Cadet is motioned from the backfield to the slot position on the right. He runs a quick out and gets open quickly against the defender. As he catches the ball he does a good job of quickly turning up field and lower his shoulder on the defender.

 Pivot

Cadets route in red

Cadet’s route in red

Cadet is not as quick in his route running as Vereen. But overall he is fast enough in and out of his cuts to get separation, especially against linebackers. In the play below you can see how he fakes to the inside and then quickly goes to the outside. When he cuts to the outside he quickly gets up to speed and can get separation from the linebacker who completely bit on the inside route.

Here is the same play from the backfield camera

Swing

This is just a simple swing route from the backfield, but Cadet executes it well. He doesn’t dance around after the catch and gets the necessary yardage for a first down on this 3rd and 3 play.

What I don’t really see in Cadets game is elusiveness after the catch. He doesn’t shy away from defenders which is good as that can leave some yards on the field. But he won’t create a lot of yardage on his own after the catch like receiving backs like Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles can do by getting past defenders

 

As a runner

Cadet hasn’t been used much as a runner in the Saints, and he only had ten runs during the 2014 season. But there are some things you can gather from those runs. When he runs with the ball he tends to run pretty high, he bends at his waist instead of at the knees. As a running back you generally want to run low as it gives you better balance and makes you harder to bring down. You want to get low with your whole body and not just bending your upper body forward. What I like from his running is that he doesn’t seem to shy away from contact. He also avoids dancing around in the backfield and instead takes the necessary cut to get to the hole

Middle run

DL in black, Cadet in red

DL in black, Cadet in red

In this play we have an inside run to the right. The whole DL stunts to the offenses left, and #56 on the defense does a good job of creating separation from the OL by extending his arms and takes the hole that Cadet wants to run through, but Cadet does a good job of reading this and quickly changes hole, without starting dancing in the backfield, he then protects the ball with both hands as you want to do in the middle.  At the end of the play you can see him running higher than you generally want, but he keeps his legs moving which gives him some extra yardage.

 Screen

Saints used Cadet on a couple of screen plays with some success, and for these kinds of running backs you can often use screens instead of regular running plays with a hand off to give them some more room to run. In this play he does a good job of keeping his patience before showing the screen. He does a good job of following his blocks and getting the yardage that is available. He does fumble at the end of the play, but I don’t read too much into one fumble.

 

I think that Cadet will be in a good position to compete for and win the starting position as receiving back in 2015, as his main competition as of now is James White who barely saw the field in 2014. But questions exist about his pass blocking as the Saints rarely used him for it, and about his ability to run the ball as it’s hard to judge that ability from 11 total carries. Because of this and the skill set of the other running backs(mainly power runners) on the roster I could see the Patriots draft a more well-rounded running back in the draft. But even so, Cadet should get his fair share of touches as he has the ability to play all over the field, which is something that the Patriots coaches like in receiving backs.

What are your feelings on the free agency signings for the Patriots so far and the signing of Cadet? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

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