Patriot Rookies
David Rosenblum: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Patriot Rookies: Realistic Expectations For The 2021 Season

The Patriots’ 2021 draft class was one of the more exciting rookie classes I have witnessed as a Patriots fan. Mac Jones became the first quarterback drafted in the first round under Coach Belichick, the team landed two defensive studs in Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins, and they added Rhamondre Stevenson to an already deep-running back group. The rest of the Patriots’ rookies for 2021 includes Cameron McGrone, Josuah Bledsoe, William Sherman, and Tre Nixon. After spending record-setting money in the 2021 offseason and overhauling the roster, what are the expectations for the Patriot rookies in 2021?

Patriot Rookies- #1 Mac Jones (QB)

I have been very critical of the Alabama quarterback, as his arm is not special and he is a below-average athlete, but Jones has looked good in camp by all accounts. I do not think Jones is going to see a lot of action in 2021 barring an injury to Cam Newton. Unless we get the 2020 version of Newton, Jones should sit for the year and soak up the offense.

If Jones does get a chance to start and wins a couple of games, I see that as a success. He was only a one-year starter at Alabama so if he is an above-average game manager as a rookie, I will be happy.

Patriot Rookies- #2 Christian Barmore (DT)

Barmore has the chance to play the most snaps and have the most impact in this rookie class. The Alabama DT was regarded as the best interior lineman in the 2021 draft and when he started to fall, the Pats jumped up to get him. The 2021 National Championship Defensive MVP is a dominant force on the defensive line.

The Patriots’ defensive tackle position has a ton of depth but not a lot of talent. They signed Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson to pair with veteran Lawrence Guy. Barmore is only 21-years old and could see a big role right away, as his unique combination of power and speed give him the edge over some of the veterans.

If Barmore can have a Malcolm Brown impact as a rookie, the Patriots may have found something special. Brown started 12 games as a rookie and had 48 tackles, three sacks, and six TFLs.  

Patriot Rookies- #3 Ronnie Perkins (DE/LB)

Another rookie who fell in the draft that the Patriots picked up was Oklahoma DE Ronnie Perkins. Perkins has immense talent, but after a positive drug test that led to a suspension, many teams were down on Perkins.

Unlike Barmore’s situation, Perkins enters a Patriots positional group that has a mix of players in their prime, rising young players and several veterans. Perkins is a bit small compared to a prototypical defensive end and will get the majority of snaps at outside linebacker. Unfortunately for Perkins, he has to compete against guys like Matt Judon, Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, and Kyle Van Noy.

Although Perkins only played six games in 2020, he managed to get 23 tackles and 5.5 sacks. If he could follow what Josh Uche did last year and make the occasional splash play, it would be huge for Perkins and the Pats.

Patriot Rookies- #4 Rhamondre Stevenson (RB)

The Patriots running back position is as fluid as a position group gets. They have a “featured back” in Damien Harris but James White, Sony Michel, and Stevenson will all get some run. The Oklahoma running back was placed on the PUP list ahead of training camp but should be good to go come the regular season.

A promising pattern for Stevenson is that Coach Belichick has loved his running backs in previous seasons. As long as Steveson stays healthy, the obvious comparison is LeGarrette Blount. Blount’s time in New England was spent as a touchdown scoring machine from inside the five-yard line. I could see Josh McDaniels using Stevenson as a bruising back in goal-line and heavy sets, but he probably will not see a high volume of carries.

Patriot Rookies- #5 Cameron McGrone (LB)

McGrone like Stevenson was placed on the PUP list but he is recovering from an ACL injury and probably will not see any action in 2021. I would be lying if I said I knew who McGrone was prior to him getting drafted but I did not who Josh Uche was last year and he looked pretty good in 2020. The linebacker position is pretty deep so McGrone has his work cut out for him.

Patriot Rookies- #6 Josh Bledsoe (S)

Like McGrone, I did not watch much of Bledsoe while he was at Missouri. When I saw the Patriots drafted a safety from Missouri, I thought they had taken Tyree Gillespie. In the one Missouri game I watched, Gillespie was running all over the field, making tackles, breaking up passes, and looked like the best player on the field. Gillespie was drafted by the Raiders in the same draft.

Back to Bledsoe. The Patriots’ secondary is arguably the strongest position group on the team. At the safety position, they have veterans Adrian Phillips and Devin McCourty, second-year stud Kyle Dugger and Jalen Mills. Bledsoe has an uphill battle and I would be shocked if he played meaningful snaps in 2021.

Patriot Rookies- #7 Will Sherman (OL)

Mike Onwenu has now made me hopeful of every offensive lineman taken later in the draft. Onwenu was drafted in the sixth round in 2020 and became a starter by week one. If Sherman makes the 53-man roster I see that as a win as the Patriot’s offensive line is one of their strengths. One thing working in Sherman’s favor is the injury history of Isiah Wynn. If Wynn goes down and they kick Onwenu out to tackle, Sherman could get some run at guard.

Patriot Rookies- #8 Tre Nixon (WR)

Tre Nixon was the last pick made by the legend Ernie Adams. Nixon hails from UCF and with the wide receiver woes that have plagued the Patriots, Nixon has a shot of making the roster and getting some snaps. Jacobi Meyers has earned his spot and they signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne but with N’Keal Harry requesting a trade, is it crazy to think Nixon could be the WR4? I love me some Gunner Olszewski but he is best suited to return punts and kicks.

If Nixon sees the field in 2021, mark that down as a win.

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