Talent is obviously massively important when it comes to the game of football. However, so is knowing how to use skills and combining it with the right work ethic and effort. As has been seen time and again in the NFL, talent alone can only get you so far.
Ronnie Perkins has plenty of talent. A third-round draft pick by the New England Patriots earlier this year, he offers an intriguing combination of size and power. His numbers at the University of Oklahoma are a reflection of that: Perkins registered 16.5 sacks in 33 games as a Sooner and also added 32 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
His talents cannot be denied, but Perkins seems to be well aware that he can only find success at the next level if he continues on the path that brought him to this point. He knows it takes effort, and he knows it takes technique.
“I’d say effort plays a big part in what got me here, but also technique,” the youngster said during a media conference call earlier this offseason.
“I like to use technique, but at the end of the day you might make a lot of plays just by using effort. The ball is not always going to end up where you are, so you’re going to have to make that extra effort to get the ball. That’s pretty much the things that got me to where I am.”
A three-year starter at Oklahoma, Perkins arrived in New England as the bottom layer on the depth chart. He is guaranteed a spot on the team’s roster courtesy of his draft status, but automatically cracking a deep edge linebacker rotation will not be in the cards. The Patriots, after all, have a pretty talent group at the position: Chase Winovich and Josh Uche will be back while the team also added Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy in free agency.
All of them have plenty of talent as well, and they have shown the effort both on and off the field to put themselves in a position to be successful. Perkins has yet to reach that point.
The 21-year-old also mentioned something else during his self-evaluation.
“I’d probably say I have some really good instincts,” he pointed out. “You also have to know the type of tackle you’re going against. Which moves work against this tackle, and which moves don’t work against this tackle. It’s pretty much like a mental game; you’re going to have a good mental game when you’re pass rushing. I feel like I have a good one.”
The Patriots had a challenging time when it came to rushing the quarterback in 2020, finishing just 26th in the league with 24 sacks. They went out and addressed the issue during the offseason, though, signing the aforementioned Judon and Van Noy as free agents and also selecting Perkins in the third round of the draft.
The youngster should now help them get after the QB, at least if his college numbers are a sign of things to come: according to Pro Football Focus, he registered a combined 83.5 quarterback disruptions during his college career. Perkins impacted the game due to his consistent ability to put heat on opposing passers, something New England was very much missing throughout its disappointing 2020 season.
How did he do that? Perkins’ talent surely did not hurt, but it was his combination of effort, technique and mental strength that put him over the top — and at times the opposing quarterback as well.