The New England Patriots, so far, are exclusively taking college teammates in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Patriots selected Alabama products in quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore in the first two rounds. Then, they grabbed Oklahoma teammates with defensive end Ronnie Perkins and running back Rhamondre Stevenson in the third and fourth rounds.
Perkins and Stevenson were close in college.
“It’s great being with my teammate,” Stevenson said Saturday on a conference call with the media. “We built a bond in two years — I was at OU for two years. We built a very strong bond in two years. That’s really my guy, my right hand (man). So, it’s crazy that we got drafted to the same team. We actually talked about this during the season. It’s just crazy we manifested it. Now we’ve just got to go to work.”
Perkins greeted his former and future teammate on Twitter.
It’s the fourth straight year the Patriots have taken college teammates in the same draft. They took linebacker Josh Uche, guard Michael Onwenu and tight end Devin Asiasi (who later transferred to UCLA) out of Michigan in 2020, quarterback Jarrett Stidham and defensive tackle Byron Cowart (who later transferred to Maryland) out of Auburn in 2019 and Georgia running back Sony Michel and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn in 2018.
Perkins and Stevenson were suspended at the same time for failing drug tests (reportedly marijuana) in 2019. Their six-game bans extended five games into the 2020 season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Saturday morning that the Patriots were comfortable with Perkins’ background. It’s clear they felt the same way about Stevenson after drafting him in the fourth round.
The NFL loosened its restrictions on testing for marijuana with the new CBA. Players are no longer tested during the NFL offseason. They’ll only be tested during the two weeks at the start of training camp, and players will no longer be suspended for failing drug tests for marijuana. So, it’s actually probably smart to scoop up players who might be falling down the draft board for failed tests.