Ronnie Perkins, like any rookie, is trying to get the lay of the land in Foxboro. Fortunately for him, he’s got a lot of worthwhile mentors.
The New England Patriots selected the linebacker out of Oklahoma in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft as Bill Belichick aimed to retool what was a porous defensive front. That coincided with the return of Dont’a Hightower, who opted out of the 2020 season, plus the signings of Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy. Those three alone are good resources for a young player for myriad reasons.
Perkins, who is just 21, is trying to take it all in.
“I try to take as much as I can from them,” Perkins said Saturday. “Just like — Matthew Judon — just watching him pass rush, even when I’m on the sideline, like watching what he’s doing pass rush. When we watching film, just watch how Dont’a Hightower does some of his drops and everything. It’s trying to pick up small things from them. And then like when I’m on the field and I’m doing something I ask them, ‘how should I do this, how can I do this better?’ So just picking their brain anyway I can.”
From established vets like Hightower and Judon to younger players still finding their way in their NFL, there are a variety of resources for Perkins to seek out for guidance and advice.
He doesn’t even have to go outside his position group.
“I’d pretty much say, like, my whole position room (I go to for advice), because pretty much all those guys have, like, so much experience playing in his defense, playing in multiple defenses, just playing football,” Perkins said. “So I can really just go pick any one of their brains at any time. And I’m definitely 100 percent confident the information they’re giving me is like great information.
“I’d just say it was a positive learning experience (in camp so far). Coming in every day, getting stronger, getting better. Expanding my game and doing whatever I can to just catch up to the vets, you know, be on their level.”
On the flip side of all this, Perkins does have to compete against all of these teammates. The Patriots wouldn’t have taken him in the third round if they didn’t think highly of him, but he obviously has to earn a roster spot first.
It sounds like he’s absorbing all the information he can to ensure that happens. And if the linebacker group is anything like the quarterback room, then Perkins will have access to any resources and support he needs.