The New England Patriots utterly dominated the competition through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft.
They used their first pick on quarterback Mac Jones and their subsequent two selections on defensive tackle Christian Barmore and edge rusher Ronnie Perkins.
Given the rumors that followed Round 1, most fans surmised the Patriots would use their first pick of the fourth round (No. 120 overall) on an offensive lineman.
However, they continued to surprise by drafting Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson.
While RB wasn’t a pressing need for the Patriots given the emergence of Damien Harris and strong showing from Sony Michel after he returned from injury last season, it’s clear de facto general manager Bill Belichick is preparing for the future with this pick.
With that in mind, what does Stevenson’s arrival mean for Michel’s future?
What does the selection of Rhamondre Stevenson mean for Sony Michel?
We wouldn’t say this pick qualifies as Belichick admitting defeat on drafting Michel in the first round back in 2018, as the former Georgia standout has been productive, especially in the red zone, over his first three seasons. However, it just further proves that spending a first-round pick on a RB is senseless when you can find starting-caliber talents anywhere in the middle rounds.
That isn’t to say Stevenson will be an instant star, but his arrival essentially confirms that Michel isn’t long for Foxborough. After all, New England will have to make a decision on his fifth-year option before the upcoming deadline on May 3. The fact that they haven’t done so yet and just used a fourth-round pick on a running back pretty much writes its own story.
As things stand, the Patriots have six running backs on the roster: Harris, Michel, Stevenson, James White, JJ Taylor and Brandon Bolden. That log jam will obviously be trimmed before the start of next season, but you have to think Michel’s fifth-year option won’t be exercised … assuming he remains with the team through 2021.
Michel likely gave the Patriots something to think about this offseason after he rushed 36 times for 219 yards over the final three games of last campaign. For the season, he tallied an impressive 449 rushing yards on a career-high 5.7 yards per carry.
However, he was limited to just nine games due to injury, and that’s been the main problem with Michel early on in his career.
It remains to be seen what the Patriots’ immediate plans are for Michel, but them using their fourth-round pick on Stevenson has likely signaled the beginning of the end of his time in New England.