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NFL Draft

What Will Rhamondre Stevenson’s Rookie Role Be For Patriots?

  • The Draft Network
  • September 4, 2021
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If you want to know just how impressive fourth-round running back Rhamondre Stevenson was in the preseason, the New England Patriots’ trade of former first-round back Sony Michel to the Rams should clear up any outstanding questions regarding the potential role of the former Oklahoma standout.

At 6-foot and 227 pounds, Stevenson fits the bulky back build Bill Belichick has so eloquently deployed during his time in Foxboro. ​​A look back to the prototypical mold of backfield talents since Belichick took over head coaching duties at the turn of the century, the thicker, downhill, 220-plus pound ball-carriers have been the way of the wind for Belichick. Of the rushers listed as the team’s leading running back up to the 2021 season, seven have met the 220-pound threshold. 

  • LeGarrette Blount (2015-16), 247 pounds
  • Jonas Gray (2014), 223 pounds
  • Stevan Ridley (2012-13), 220 pounds
  • Sammy Morris (2008), 220 pounds
  • Laurence Maroney (2007, 2009), 220 pounds
  • Corey Dillon (2004-06), 225 pounds
  • Antowain Smith (2001-03), 232 pounds

While de facto bellcow back Damien Harris weighs in a tick under 220, the addition of Stevenson’s nastiness in the run, coupled with James White’s ability on third down, has presented New England’s offense with a wide array of weaponry to deploy this upcoming season. 

Eerily similar to the likes of former Blount, Stevenson won’t blow you away on wide zone concepts or take a screen pass 60 yards to the house, but he’s everything Belichick could hope for in Harris’ backup for short-yardage opportunities and as a protection source for quarterback Mac Jones in long down-and-distance situations. With just 19 games of collegiate experience, Stevenson’s fourth-round selection initially warranted questioning with Chuba Hubbard and Kenneth Gainwell on the board at that time, but a schematic fit on day three of the draft denotes a heck of a job well done if Stevenson is able to hit the ground running when it counts.

A successful preseason would be a drastic understatement to the production Stevenson churned out, finishing with 30 carries for 216 yards and five touchdowns. He led the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards from scrimmage (242) while finishing second in yards per carry (7.2) to his teammate J.J. Taylor. But his statistical successes go far beyond the box score.

Stevenson’s ability to stay north/south while maintaining a low pad level proved to be a nightmare for opposing defenders to tackle during his time in Norman, Okla. And through three weeks of the preseason, it’s seemed nothing has changed despite the jump in competition. While an 18-touchdown campaign, like Blount enjoyed in 2016, doesn’t look to be in the cards in his first season, Stevenson’s role in New England’s offense has substantially risen with Michel on the opposite coast.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that, Stevenson’s deep bag of tools were put on full display to Patriots faithful this summer, much to the dislike of NFL defensive coordinators. A 91-yard scamper against Washington, goal-line prowess against the Philadelphia Eagles, devastating dead-leg cutbacks in space against the New York Giants... Stevenson put “overdraft” doubters to bed each and every time he had the rock in his hands. 

Similar to the game plan Belichick used last fall with Harris, White, and Rex Burkhead, the three-man game of Harris, White, and Stevenson this fall could be the straw that stirs the drink if New England looks to qualify for the postseason with Jones at the helm. An invigorating combo of brawn, agility, and vision, if Stevenson is able to replicate his preseason tape, his current RB3 slot in the Patriots’ backfield could soon invite a massive increase in touches as we progress through the fall.

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