FOXBORO, Mass. — One running back wasn't enough for Bill Belichick. He kept the youth movement rolling and took two, adding LSU's Stevan Ridley with the 73rd pick in the third round.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pounder rushed for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior in 2010. He didn't see much action as a freshman and sophomore, accumulating 272 yards and four touchdowns during his first two seasons.
Ridley is a very powerful runner with mediocre speed who is very difficult to tackle, in a way similar to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He won't add much as a pass catcher, but his value will be between the tackles and in short-yardage situations. He's still got room to grow, but he could emerge as a pretty solid back over the next few seasons.
This might spell the end of Sammy Morris' tenure in New England. With Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, second-round pick Shane Vereen, Ridley and potentially Kevin Faulk, the Patriots have four young backs and a veteran who will have a spot if he wants it. Green-Ellis and Ridley will be the power backs, and Woodhead, Vereen and (potentially) Faulk will be the change-of-pace guys who get most of their action on third down.
The Patriots were expected to take one running back in this draft, but it was an eye-opener to see them take two with their first four picks. It's reminiscent of the way they overhauled the tight end position a year ago, moving on from the aging veterans and adding two different types of players through the draft. They didn't add a feature-caliber back in the class, but Ridley and Vereen will have very defined roles.
"They told me I tied Kevin Faulk's record. I thought that was pretty neat that I ended up going to the same team that he's at right now."
–Ridley on Faulk, an LSU legend who he has met a few times. Both rushed for 15 touchdowns during a single season, which was fourth in program history.