The New England Patriots did not need to address running back in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they did nonetheless. In fact, they used two of their seven Day 3 picks to bolster the position.
The first of those selections was invested in Pierre Strong out of South Dakota State. A versatile player who projects as a receiving back and change-of-pace option in the backfield, Strong has an intriguing skillset arriving in New England. He also has something else: a comparatively short injury history.
Let’s take a look at it.
2016 (McClellan High School): Late during his 1,423-yard, 25-touchdown senior season at McClellan, Strong suffered a hairline fracture in his right collarbone that forced him to prematurely end his high school career. He spent his entire 2017 freshman season at South Dakota State on the sidelines as a redshirt, but not for medical reasons related to his collarbone injury.
2019 (South Dakota State): Strong was carted off in the first quarter against Northern Iowa because of a knee injury. He did not return to the game and despite being labeled as “week-by-week” by head coach John Stiegelmeier went on to miss the final two contests of the season as well.
2020 (South Dakota State): Having gained a season-high 124 yards, Strong had to be helped off the field in a mid-March game versus Youngstown State. Having suffered an ankle injury, he was forced to miss the contest versus Southern Illinois a week later. With the subsequent two games canceled due to Covid-19, he was given a month off and was back on the field in mid-April versus North Dakota State.
2021 (South Dakota State): Strong suffered a leg injury just three carries into the Jackrabbits’ mid-December contest versus Villanova. He sat out the remainder of the game but was back on the field one week later, carrying the football 14 times for 94 yards and a touchdown.
What it means for the Patriots
Strong did suffer the occasional bumps and bruises during his high school and college careers, but none of his injuries can be classified as major red flags. Accordingly, the Patriots did not have to worry about much as far as his medicals are concerned.
Obviously, the physicality in the NFL is different from the FCS level, but Strong has shown capable of withstanding a hefty workload: he touched the football 693 times in his four non-redshirt seasons at South Dakota State, but missed only three of a possible 51 games.
How would you grade the Patriots’ selection of RB Pierre Strong at No. 127?
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