Leading up to the 2021 draft, Patriots de facto GM Bill Belichick was the subject of a lot of criticism for his recent failures.
Though a little harsh, the backlash was justified, as Belichick has missed on a number of picks for the better part of a decade. After all, he just traded 2018 first-rounder Sony Michel to the Rams and 2019 first-rounder N’Keal Harry might be on his way out.
But we all know Belichick loves proving haters wrong … and he’s seemingly done just that based on the early returns from his 2021 class.
Not only does Mac Jones look like a steal at No. 15 overall, but Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins figure to play significant roles as rookies. That doesn’t happen very often (if ever) on a Belichick-coached defense.
Though that trio deserves praise, we simply have to give Rhamondre Stevenson his 15 minutes of fame for the way he’s performed in the preseason.
We don’t want to jump to conclusions, but the former Oklahoma star seems to have everything Belichick wants in his running backs.
Is Rhamondre Stevenson the prototypical Bill Belichick running back?
Belichick loves running backs who can finish off drives in goal-to-go situations, and Stevenson picked up his fifth (!) rushing touchdown of the preseason in Sunday’s win over the Giants.
The Patriots’ fourth-round pick plays to contact and Belichick would be wise to use his bruising style of running early in games to set the tone. After all, what defense would enjoy tackling a 6-foot, 229-pound wrecking ball that welcomes hits?
Not many, that’s for sure. While physicality and brute strength are Stevenson’s calling cards, they’re far from the only aspects of his game he brings to the table. As evidenced by this quick highlight, the former Sooner is incredibly elusive for an RB of his stature.
Look at how many missed tackles Stevenson generated with a simple few jump cuts against the Eagles … in just his second preseason game!
That simply shouldn’t be possible. We know vision and quick feet are essential tangibles for starting-caliber running backs, but Stevenson, even at his size, seems to have an elite combination of both.
That skill set helped him become the league’s leading rusher for the preseason. In three games, the rookie took 30 carries for 217 yards and the aforementioned five TDs. That equates to a whopping 7.2 yards per carry.
Remember when he failed his conditioning test at the start of training camp? That seems like ages ago. Suffice it to say that the NFL made a huge mistake letting Belichick get his hands on this gem as late as the fourth round.