The New England Patriots made a total of eight selections in the 2021 NFL Draft, bolstering the depth on both sides of the ball and possibly also investing in their quarterback of the future. Every one of the players picked by the team does bring a specific set of skills and strengths to the table, and here are eight statistics — compiled for in part through the Pro Football Focus 2021 NFL Draft Guide — that help illustrate them.
QB Mac Jones: 84.2
Last week we claimed that Mac Jones would be a “prototypical Bill Belichick quarterback” in part due to his abilities to throw an accurate football. Just how accurate is the Patriots’ first-round quarterback, though? His completion percentage of 76.6 tells part of the story, but eliminating drops, throwaways, batted passes and spikes from the equation paints a far clearer picture.
The resulting adjusted completion rate shows that Jones was the most accurate QB in college football last year: 84.2 percent of his throws were deemed catchable. For comparison, number one overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence finished with an adjusted completion percentage of “only” 77.3. Accuracy is an integral part of Jones’ game and the numbers reflect this.
DT Christian Barmore: 39
Only one of the Patriots’ top interior pass rushers from the last two seasons will be back in 2021: Deatrich Wise Jr. was re-signed in free agency, while Adam Butler will play for the Miami Dolphins moving forward. The ability to create pressure in the passing game is not a must for defensive tackles in New England’s gap-control scheme, but it is a nice add-on — one that second-round selection Christian Barmore possesses.
In fact, the Alabama product was one of the best interior pass rushers in college football last year. Despite still only scratching his ceiling, he already registered 39 combined quarterback disruptions last season: Barmore notched 8 sacks as well as 4 hits and 27 additional pressures. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots employ the rookie early as part of their third down or sub rush packages.
DE Ronnie Perkins: 0.97
New England’s third-round selection seemingly lived in opponents’ backfields during his time at Oklahoma. Not only did he register 16.5 sacks in three seasons as a Sooner, he also had 32 tackles for loss in just 33 career games. His TFL rate of 0.97 per game is impressive, and reflective of a player who knows how to get up the field to blow up plays before they even happen — an ability the Patriots’ coaching staff certainly values.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson: 2.32
At 5-foot-11, 231 pounds Rhamondre Stevenson is a big dude. He also plays like one and has therefore drawn comparisons to former Patriots running back LeGarrett Blount — comparisons that are not lost on the fourth-round draft selection either. But while his early-down power running is what will earn him a spot in New England’s rotation, his pass catching abilities cannot go unnoticed either.
Stevenson is no dual-threat from the running back position, but he has finished his two-year career at Oklahoma with 28 receptions for 298 yards. Those numbers do not necessarily stand out, but his yards per route run of 2.32 ranked him 11th among all RBs in college football last year. Not bad for a player built like a linebacker.
LB Cameron McGrone: 0
Before a torn ACL ended his junior season at Michigan, fifth-round draft pick Cameron McGrone had a quality campaign — one that included some solid tackling. After he missed nine tackle attempts the previous season, McGrone was perfect on all 26 of his takedowns in 2020. The ability to get stops when initiating contact with opposing ball carriers is highly important at the NFL level, and the youngster has shown an ability to do just that last year.
S Joshuah Bledsoe: 17
Whether or not Joshuah Bledsoe will carve out a role on New England’s safety depth chart remains to be seen, but the sixth-round draft choice certainly brings a solid résumé to the table. He appeared in 46 games at Missouri and over his two seasons as a starting free safety showed a knack for locating the football in the air: Bledsoe did not only register an interception, he also broke up 17 passes thrown his way between the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
OT William Sherman: 58:42
While the Patriots’ starting offensive tackle roles are set in stone heading into the 2021 season — Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown will hold down the fort on the left and right side, respectively — the backup positions are up for grabs. William Sherman may not have set foot on an NFL field just yet, but the sixth-round selection offers something else: experience playing on both the left and the right side.
During his three seasons as a starter in Colorado, Sherman played 1,239 snaps as the team’s left tackle as well as 879 on the other end of the offensive line. His 58-to-42 split between the two sides bodes well for his future as a potential third/swing tackle in New England.
WR Tre Nixon: 10.7
Hand-picked by now-former Patriots research director Ernie Adams, Tre Nixon has had some solid production during his time at Central Florida. In order to leave his mark in the NFL as well, however, the seventh-rounder will need to become more consistent holding onto the football: Nixon dropped 13 of 121 passes thrown his way over his three seasons as a starter for UCF. His drop rate of 10.7 percent is concerning.