Latest running back rankings by PFF place Patriots Rhamondre Stevenson far too low

Oct 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson
Oct 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Is it ever really shocking when members of the NFL media underestimate a player on the Patriots? Because that's where we find ourselves again with the latest rankings of running backs heading into the 2023 season.

Pro Football Focus recently revealed their list as we continue to look ahead to the regular season, and they appear not to understand the value that Patriots' running back Rhamondre Stevenson brings to the New England offense.

Reviewing the list isn't surprising initially, with most of the top 10 being the obvious and deserving choices. But things get a little questionable once they continue with the double-digit rankings.

The list goes as follows:

11. Breece Hall (New York Jets)
12. Kenneth Walker III (Seattle Seahawks)
13. Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)
14. Dameon Pierce (Houston Texans)
15. Travis Etienne (Jacksonville Jaguars)
16. Rhamondre Stevenson (New England Patriots)

Are all of those players above Stevenson really that much better than him?

PFF's blurb about New England's star RB is accurate and mentions that he's on track to become an even more significant part of the offense next season. But that calls their ranking into question even more, considering a few of the names above him have indeed not outperformed him over the last two seasons.

"Stevenson has been very solid to start his NFL career. In each of the past two seasons, he has recorded an 80.0-plus rushing grade. And in both years, he averaged more than 4.7 yards per carry with more than 3.4 yards after contact. The arrow is pointing even higher for Stevenson into 2023 and beyond."

If their rankings are based on production thus far, placing Breece Hall five spots ahead of Stevenson is an interesting move, considering he could not finish his rookie season in 2022 due to injury. Of course, he was highly touted coming out of college and is expected to become a prominent back in the league, but is the list based on what we've seen so far and making a prediction from that? Or is it about what we hope to see?

Then at 12, there's Walker III, another rookie last season who made a name for himself quickly in a developing offense. His stats are similar to that of Stevenson's, finishing the year with 228 carries for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He also added 27 receptions for 165 yards on the season.

Since that placed him four spots above Stevenson, and he statistically performed better than Walker, with 210 carries for 1,040 yards and five touchdowns, plus 69 receptions for 421 yards and a touchdown, how does his placement make sense?

Kamara's placement on the list is the only one that is difficult to take issue with. He's a proven talent that consistently delivers and has become the leading offensive weapon over the years for the Saints.

The final two ranked above Stevenson were also rookies last season, impressing the league early on as they became the top backs for their teams.

There's no arguing that both Pierce and Etienne performed well, but did they show much more on the field than Stevenson? Etienne totaled 85 more yards on the ground, but he and Pierce were not as involved in the passing game nor significantly better performers.

Sure, the rankings may be based on opinion more than actual performances. But this is PFF we're talking about; they are cited for their analytics consistently by top media outlets around the country, making it seem less likely they'd put out anything not based on facts.

Regardless, it appears Stevenson is the latest Patriot to be underestimated. The 2023 season is bound to be a big one for New England's offense overall, but it also feels like a potential breakout year for Stevenson now that he will be the primary RB. And maybe that will be how he proves himself to the doubters.