The New England Patriots selected five players on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Here’s what head coach Bill Belichick had to say about each during his post-draft video conference:
RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma (Round 4, No. 120 overall)
“Stevenson, a big back from Oklahoma, hasn’t had a lot of carries, think he’s certainly a player that’s got a lot of good football in front of him. … He’s been a productive player, any opportunities he’s had. Sort of like (second-round pick Christian) Barmore. Barmore’s number of snaps were maybe not as high as some other players, but certainly his production on a per snap basis was high, as was Stevenson’s. We look forward to working with him. I think Stevenson’s best football is in front of him. He’s big. He can run. He can catch. He’s certainly going to need a lot of work on some of the other finer points. That’s what we’re here for. I’m sure he’ll be ready to get to work and do it.”
Stevenson logged just 165 carries over two seasons at Oklahoma, plus another 290 during a two-year stint at Cerritos Community College. He’s the heaviest running back the Patriots have drafted under Belichick but showed solid pass-catching ability for the Sooners, tallying 18 receptions for 211 yards in six games last season.
LB Cameron McGrone, Michigan (Round 5, No. 177)
“McGrone is a good football player, replaced (Devin) Bush at Michigan, and had a really good career there. Had a knee injury last year, missed the end of the year. We’re not really sure what the expectation of availability is for him, but we’re prepared certainly to not have him available this year, but we’ll just have to wait and see how that goes. There are no false expectations here. He should have a good recovery and be a good player. We’ll just have to see what the timing is on that.”
McGrone, a two-year starter at inside linebacker for the Wolverines, might be looking at a medical redshirt year after tearing his ACL last November. Stashing the 20-year-old ‘backer on the physically unable to perform list would open up a spot on New England’s crowded roster, with an eye toward him contributing in 2022.
S Joshuah Bledsoe, Missouri (Round 6, No. 188)
“Bledsoe’s a versatile player at Missouri, did a lot of different things for their football team. Was in a couple different systems, defensive staffs out there, but through it all, it’s a very athletic player, high school quarterback, point guard, defensive safety, very, very instinctive player.”
A versatile, instinctive quarterback-turned-defensive back? Yep, that sounds like a Patriot. Bledsoe played strong safety, free safety and in the slot at Missouri.
OT William Sherman, Colorado (Round 6, No. 197)
“Sherman, the tackle, has played both left and right tackle, also has some experience at guard. So also see how all that plays out. But in ’18, he played left tackle, then moved to right tackle, and they had a grad transfer come in and play left tackle. Then he moved back to left tackle this year in ’20. So left, right, left. Army football. Again, we’ll see how that goes. Certainly has some versatility. Again, maybe also able or suited to play guard. We’ll see how that goes.”
At 6-foot-2, 304 pounds, Sherman is undersized by usual NFL tackle standards. He could bump inside at the next level, but prototypical length isn’t a prerequisite for Patriots tackles (see: Isaiah Wynn, Mike Onwenu, Justin Herron).
WR Tre Nixon, UCF (Round 7, No. 242)
“Tre Nixon, receiver from Central Florida, very productive guy, played opposite Gabriel (Davis) last year, played with (Jacob) Harris, who was drafted a little bit earlier this year. He’s a guy that’s had a productive career down there.”
Nixon put up solid receiving numbers in 2018 (40-562-4) and 2019 (49-830-7) before a broken collarbone limited him to four games in 2020 (19-260-2). He averaged 15.3 yards per reception in his college career and showed good quickness at his pro day (6.81-second three-cone drill).