New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

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Oct 5, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) reacts after scoring against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

3rd Round #73 overall: running back Stevan Ridley

The New England Patriots doubled-up at running back in the 2011 NFL Draft as they spent the #73 overall pick in the draft on running back Stevan Ridley from LSU. Ridley was eased into the lineup as a rookie but by the end of the regular season had seemingly surpassed plodding back BenJarvus Green-Ellis going into the playoffs. Ridley averaged over 5 yards per rush but a lost fumble in week seventeen had Belichick pulling on the reins. Putting the ball on the ground in the Divisional Playoff win against Denver sent Ridley to the bench for the rest of the postseason.


Ridley bounced back as the feature back in 2012 replacing Green-Ellis and rushing for 1,263 yards during the regular season. Although he fumbled four times, it was his fumble in the AFC Championship game when he was knocked out by Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard early in the fourth quarter and turned a 21-13 game with New England driving into a 28-13 loss and desperation.


Sep 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) rushes against the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Patriots win 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013 the fumbles continued for Ridley as at one point he fumbled in three consecutive weeks against Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Denver. After fumbling against Denver he was benched and his workload cut as LeGarrette Blount emerged as the lead back and relegating Ridley to a backup role. In 2014 Blount was gone to Pittsburgh and Ridley was back as the lead back. He topped 100 yards on the ground twice in the first five games of the season and most importantly did not lose a fumble. Unfortunately, in week six Ridley tore his ACL and MCL against the Bills and was lost for the season. Currently, he is still a free agent and not expected to return to New England.



The crop of running backs taken after Ridley in the 2011 NFL Draft is thin. Of the 22 backs taken after him, the two best were Jacquizz Rodgers and Roy Helu. Suffice to say, for the position the Patriots made the right pick. Tennessee got good value from defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (#77 overall) and Seattle hit on linebacker K.J. Wright (#99 overall) but the rest of the back-end of the third round was littered with players like Jah Reid (#85 overall), DeMarcus Van Dyke (#81 overall), Drake Nevis (#87 overall), Curtis Brown (#95 overall), and a bunch of “Who are Those Guys”.


Ridley was a very good value at the spot the Patriots got him. To find an impact player who rushed for over 1,200 yards in a season and was a solid running back at an affordable cost. Ridley was solid value at a point of the draft when teams started having many more misses than hits.


Next: 3rd Round Continued