BOSTON (AP) — After securing a potential long-term solution at quarterback and loading up with defensive players who play close to the line of scrimmage, the New England Patriots used the final day of the draft to address needs on both sides of the ball.
New England took Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson with the 120th pick before shifting to the defensive side of the ball with Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone in the fifth round at No. 177 overall.
Missouri safety Joshua Bledsoe (sixth), Colorado offensive tackle William Sherman (sixth) and Central Florida wide receiver Tre Nixon (seventh) rounded out Saturday for the Patriots.
Of course, New England's draft class is headlined by Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15 overall. The Patriots also grabbed Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore in the second round and Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins in the third.
Stevenson carried the ball 165 times during his two seasons at Oklahoma. Listed at 6-foot and 246 pounds, he also had 28 receptions for 298 yards — speaking to the Patriots' desire to deploy backs who can run between the tackles and serve as receiving threats coming out of the backfield.
"I just know in the NFL, you've got to be very versatile. I take a lot of pride in my versatility," Stevenson said. "Just try to be a complete back, that's the main objective in my eyes and that's what I'm going to try to get done."
The Michigan to New England pipeline is alive and well. McGrone is the third player from the Big Ten school to be drafted by the Patriots in as many years. He joins a list that includes 2019 selection Chase Winovich and 2020 pick Josh Uche.
"Now to get the chance to be around some of my former teammates, that's going to mean a lot to me too," McGrone said. "Just to see some familiar faces is a blessing. Josh hit me up just to tell me congratulations and same with Chase."
McGrone is coming back from an ACL injury, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the team isn't sure if he will be ready this year.
KEEP ON FIGHTING
Standing 6-2 and weighing 180 pounds, Nixon missed time in 2020 with a broken left collarbone. He credits family and close friends for pushing him to continue to work hard after suffering a tough injury.
"That's why your support system is so important. If I didn't have them, I believe it would be way harder and probably not make it through the situation I made it through," Nixon said. "Having those people keeping you level-headed and keeping you positive, it's what it's all about. I can't thank them enough."
Playing in the Southeastern Conference meant Bledsoe had to try to stop Jones whenever Missouri squared off against Alabama. He is looking forward to joining forces with the QB.
"He's real poised. He's got a good arm and makes good decisions when distributing the ball. He has the right tools and the right mindset," Bledsoe said. "I'm glad I get to team up with him. It'll be fun to practice against him."
END OF AN ERA
Belichick told reporters this was the last draft for football research director Ernie Adams, who joined the Patriots the same year Belichick took over as head coach (2000).
Adams entered the NFL coaching ranks with the Patriots in 1975 and spent time with the New York Giants and Cleveland when Belichick coached the Browns from 1991-95.
"He's been a huge part of the draft process for the New England Patriots," Belichick said. "The acquisition of a lot of great players and all the process that goes into drafting, Ernie has had that seat in that role in the draft room. His contributions are historic."