NFL draft results: Why the Patriots selected Oklahoma RB Rhamondre Stevenson

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The New England Patriots went to the ground game in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft on Saturday.

New England did so for Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson at pick No. 120 overall, making him the sixth running back taken by head coach Bill Belichick’s war room over the past decade.

Here’s an initial look into why.

Efficient over 19-game sample size

After transferring from Cerritos College in 2018, Stevenson got the most out of his touches for the Sooners, rushing for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns over the course of 19 games. Those games brought just five starts yet an average of 7.2 yards per carry. And upon returning from suspension for a positive drug test last fall, Stevenson averaged 3.89 yards after contact per attempt to go with 36 missed tackles forced, according to Pro Football Focus.

The All-Big 12 honorable mention and offensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl also caught 18 passes for 211 yards on the way earning a Senior Bowl invitation.

Size with balance

At 6-foot, 231 pounds, Stevenson is cut from the downhill cloth between the tackles. But at Oklahoma’s pro day, he tested lighter on his feet in short areas, running the three-cone drill in a reported 7.02 seconds and the short shuttle in 4.15 seconds.

Those agility marks were logged alongside a 9-foot-4 broad jump, 31 1/2-inch vertical as well as a 40-time that put Stevenson in MockDraftable’s 24th percentile at the position.

New England’s lone fourth-rounder addresses a 2022 question

The Patriots had entered Friday night with a cluster of selections in the fourth round. But Nos. 122 and 139 overall were among those packaged to the Cincinnati Bengals to move up for Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore in the second round. It was No. 120 that remained by Saturday afternoon.

Stevenson addresses an area of 2022 uncertainty for the Patriots. The backfield depth chart beyond upcoming season stood with Damien Harris and recent undrafted arrival J.J. Taylor. But May 3 marked the deadline for New England to exercise Sony Michel’s $4.523 million fifth-year option, while veterans Brandon Bolden and James White both enter contract years.


How would you grade the Patriots’ decision to draft Rhamondre Stevenson at No. 120?

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