Patriots Take Productive Pass Rusher With Tom Brady Comp Pick In Draft

The Patriots are trying to get after the quarterback in 2021


April 30, 2021

The New England Patriots’ Day 2 picks are high-risk and high-reward.

With the 96th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft — the selection New England received for losing quarterback Tom Brady in free agency — the Patriots grabbed productive pass rusher Ronnie Perkins out of Oklahoma.

Perkins’ 24.7% pass-rush win rate was sixth among FBS edge defenders in 2020, per PFF. He registered 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in just six games last season. He missed five games after being suspended for a failed drug test, according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. He was suspended for the final game of the 2019 season and for five games last year for the same failed test.

“Really just going through some stuff, went through some off-the-field things that I really just had to get figured out as a person,” Perkins said about the suspension. “Dealing with some off-the-field stuff that kind of affected me on the field. So really just taking the whole situation and learning from it and taking it into this draft process and learning from that situation like I said. Just becoming an NFL player, learning not to make that mistake again and learning how to deal with that off-the-field issue.”

Perkins was widely regarded as a second-round pick despite the off-field concerns, so the Patriots could be receiving good value. He also had 10 quarterback hits and 19 hurries in 2020. He had five sacks, five QB hits and 21 hurries in 2019 before the suspension. PFF also graded Perkins well as a run defender.

There’s some risk involved with taking Perkins. That’s why he lasted until the 96th pick. But it could pay off if the Patriots can keep the talented edge defender on the right track.

At 6-foot-3, 253 pounds, Perkins ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash with a 1.69-second 10-yard split, 25 bench press reps, 32-inch vertical leap, 9-feet, 7-inch broad jump and 4.69-second short shuttle. He didn’t test well but shows a good get-off from the edge with the Sooners.

The Patriots didn’t have an obvious need on the edge after signing Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy this offseason. Perkins will join Judon, Van Noy, Chase Winovich, Deatrich Wise, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Rashod Berry and Tashawn Bower on the Patriots’ defensive end and outside linebacker depth chart. The Patriots took more pass-rush help in the second round when they traded up to take Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. Barmore fell after being projected to be selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Patriots grabbed him at No. 38 overall.

Perkins primarily played on the edge as a defensive end/outside linebacker with Oklahoma, but he did spent snaps at three-technique defensive tackle and five-technique defensive end. The Patriots require their pass rushers to move around the line of scrimmage, so Perkins should fit in well.

New England took quarterback Mac Jones out of Alabama in the first round. They have one pick remaining in the fourth, fifth and seventh round and two selections in the sixth round on Saturday.

The Patriots still have needs at cornerback, linebacker, wide receiver and offensive tackle.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images
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