Carrying 231 pounds on his 6-foot-0 frame, Rhamondre Stevenson is the heaviest running back drafted by the New England Patriots under head coach/general manager Bill Belichick. While the fourth-round selection may not stand out due to his speed or elusiveness — he ran just a 4.63 40-yard dash at his Pro Day — size and physicality are his defining features.
In case that sounds familiar, it is because the Patriots have rostered a player like that before. Stevenson himself mentioned his name during a post-draft media conference call when asked about his knowledge of New England running backs past and present.
“I’m pretty familiar with the running backs, the history of the running backs that the Patriots had. One that comes to mind is LeGarrette Blount. I loved his game and loved how north-and-south of a runner he was,” the rookie said.
The Stevenson-Blount connection is no hard one to be made. For one, Blount was a similarly-built player with a skillset also built around power rather than quickness: being listed at 6-foot-0 and 250 pounds in the Patriots’ 2016 media guide, he was a bruiser through and through.
Running over people or keeping his legs moving through contact were just two of Blount’s defining traits, though. He also had the patience and vision to make his style work in the NFL — something that Stevenson has also shown during his time at the University of Oklahoma. And given that he also wore the No. 29 jersey Blount donned in New England, it is not hard to see the comparison on film:
One play per player is literally the smallest of all sample sizes, but one can see that the two backs bring a similar style to the equation: Stevenson, like Blount before him, may not be the fastest player on the field, but he has the patience to let his blocks develop and is not afraid to initiate contact when in the open field.
Stevenson’s mindset also has some LeGarrette Blount to it.
“I don’t like to lose yards, so I just try to fall forward after contact,” he said after getting drafted last Saturday.
Blount’s shoes as an early-down back in the New England system are big ones to fill, though. After being acquired via trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he spent the majority of four full seasons with the team and appeared in 57 games for the club. Along the way, Blount gained a combined 3,387 rushing yards and found the end zone 42 times. Most importantly, he helped the team win two Super Bowls after the 2014 and 2016 seasons.
As for Stevenson, his focus is not on becoming Blount 2.0 just yet.
“I can’t wait to just get to the NFL and just learn how to train myself like a pro, learn the game, learn the install and just learn from the backs that have been in the NFL,” he said. “They know how it goes, they have more games in the NFL than me. I’m just ready to learn and I know that Coach will put me in the best position to do that and be successful whether it’s sooner or later.”
The Patriots have some solid early-down backs under contract already in Damien Harris and Sony Michel, but regardless of when Stevenson will get his shot he will add some toughness to the offense. And — who knows? — maybe he will one day have a similar impact in New England as Blount even if he is no longer wearing the same jersey number...