After going with back-to-back Alabama players with their first two picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots have since double-dipped with Oklahoma players, shipping a couple of Sooners up to Foxborough. The latest is running back Rhamondre Stevenson, who was selected with the No. 120 overall pick in the fourth round. He now joins a Patriots backfield that consists of Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White, J.J. Taylor, and Brandon Bolden.
Despite that large contingent of backs, Stevenson’s arrival does fill a sneaky need for New England. While Harris is looked at as the clear starter coming into 2021, the long-term depth behind him is relatively shaky. Pass-catching back James White re-signed with the club earlier this offseason, but only to the tune of a one-year deal. Sony Michel may also have one more year left remaining on his rookie contract as it seems unlikely that the Patriots will pick up his fifth-year option, especially after the drafting of Stevenson. With all that in mind, adding another playmaker to this unit was imperative.
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As it relates to Stevenson the prospect, he’s a big presence entering this backfield standing at 6-feet and weighing in at 231 pounds. For comparison, Harris is listed at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds on the official team website. At Oklahoma, Stevenson was suspended for five games last year after failing a drug test, as was New England’s third-round pick in defensive end Ronnie Perkins. When asked about Perkins’ situation following Day 2 of the draft on Friday, Bill Belichick said that the team did plenty of background on him and were comfortable with making the pick. With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that the same due diligence was done with Stevenson as well.
Despite that suspension chewing up a chunk of his playing time last year, Stevenson was able to make up for lost time, totaling 876 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns over six games. He also was named the MVP of the 2020 Cotton Bowl after rushing for 186 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries.