Patriots Rookies Who Will Make Instant Impact in 2021 SeasonMay 3, 2021
Patriots Rookies Who Will Make Instant Impact in 2021 Season
Mac Jones is the New England Patriots' quarterback of the future. He just may not be their signal-caller to begin the 2021 season.
On Thursday night, the Pats didn't need to trade up in order to add one of the top quarterback prospects in this year's draft class, as Jones fell to them at No. 15. The Alabama product appears to be a great fit for New England's offense, and he could go on to have a big career.
However, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said following the opening night of the draft that Cam Newton is still the team's starting quarterback. He told reporters that Jones has "got a lot of learning in front of him."
Perhaps Jones will get on the field in 2021, but it may not early. However, there are other players New England drafted who could make a more immediate impact during their rookie seasons.
Here's a look at several players the Patriots drafted who could quickly become contributors for the team.
Christian Barmore, DT
The Patriots have lost some key contributors on the defensive line since the end of last season, but they have quickly replenished that unit. After signing Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson during free agency, New England moved up eight spots in the second round to land Christian Barmore, one of the top defensive tackles in this year's draft class, with the No. 38 overall pick.
Barmore emerged as a strong prospect over the past two seasons at Alabama, and he capped his career with an impressive 2020 campaign. In 12 games last season, the 6'4", 310-pound lineman had 37 tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles.
"His athleticism shows up from sideline to sideline," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said, (h/t Conor Roche of Boston.com). "He's got a great get-off, the best get-off in this year's class for an interior rusher. Something Bill Belichick is always searching for, guys that can generate pressure up the middle, he's able to do that."
And Barmore may do that immediately. There should be room for him in the Patriots rotation on the defensive front. Once he's on the field, there's a strong chance he will pick up where he left off in 2020 and become a huge presence for New England on the D-line.
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB
How can Rhamondre Stevenson stand out in a crowded group of Patriots running backs? Perhaps by modeling his game after a former power back who experienced success for New England.
"I'm pretty familiar with the history of the running backs that the Patriots have. One that comes to mind is LeGarrette Blount. I love his game," Stevenson said, per Chris Mason of MassLive.com. "I just love how north and south of a runner he was."
Plus, the Pats have had no trouble getting numerous players in the mix out of the backfield over the years. So even though their roster already included Damien Harris, Sony Michel and James White, perhaps Stevenson's power style will help him get on the field more during his rookie season.
Considering New England took Stevenson in the fourth round, it got great value in a running back who was a solid player over the past two seasons at Oklahoma. During that time, Stevenson rushed for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns in 19 games for the Sooners.
Stevenson could quickly carve out a role as a goal-line back for the Pats. It worked for Blount, who had 34 touchdowns in his 49 games with New England. Maybe Stevenson can have the same nose for the end zone.
Joshuah Bledsoe, S
In the late rounds of a draft, teams are typically looking for players who could develop into strong players for the future. The top prospects are already off the board, so it's all about trying to find sleepers.
Joshuah Bledsoe may not only fit into that mold, but he could also find his way on to the field some for the Patriots in 2021. He's a versatile defensive back who played numerous roles during his four-year career at Missouri, making appearances at numerous cornerback and safety spots.
At first, the majority of Bledsoe's playing time could come on special teams for New England. But he could still make an impact in that role. And that should lead to some increased opportunities in the secondary, particularly as the season goes on.
"Honestly, I'll play wherever the defense needs me. I'm good playing wherever I need to be playing," Bledsoe told reporters after he was drafted. "I'm good with helping the team out wherever they need me to go."
That flexibility could help to make Bledsoe a late-round gem for the Patriots in 2021 and beyond.