The Patriots are set to have a few impactful rookies this season with 8 guys picked overall. And while rookies in the Pats system generally don’t have that much of an impact, things have changed recently. Without Tom Brady to keep the ship afloat while his coach develops the young guys, the newbies are being thrust into play quicker than usual. With that trend likely to keep going, it begs the question: Which rookies will be the most impactful on the Patriots season?
We’ll go in order of the draft itself so there’s no better place to start than arguably the most important draft pick in recent memory.
QB Mac Jones:
It’s apparent Mac Jones is the future starting QB of the Patriots. You don’t waste your 15th pick on a guy and not have big plans for him. But my question was who is going to impact this season, and I’m not sure if Jones fits the bill. And that reason is a certain Superman who is currently in front of Mac on the depth chart. Belichick obviously has confidence in Cam as does his teammates, so he’s going to get a chance to prove them right. For Jones to make an impact this year, Newton would have to fail and the rookie would have to continuously shine in practice. It’s a big waiting game here for one of the Patriots impactful rookies.
DT Christian Barmore:
The Pats traded up to get this guy, so they clearly have expectations for the second rouder. Barmore drew comparisons to Ndamukong Suh and Richard Seymour coming out of the draft, so there’s a lot of cautious optimism surrounding him. Barmore will likely get a good amount of playing time as well due to the position he plays. Belichick likes to mix up his defensive line and Barmore seems like a good piece to rotate in along with newcomer Davon Godchaux and Byron Cowart. Assuming he stays healthy, Barmore may play a big part in this defense.
DE Ronnie Perkins:
Even though Perkins was a defensive end in college, he’s been grouped with the linebackers since joining New England. Perkins will join a somewhat crowded room with Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Chase Winovich, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Terez Hall and Anfernee Jennings so who knows how much playing time he’ll get. If one of the starting guys goes down with an injury, Perkins will have the opportunity to step up and make some plays. But that’s not a certainty. Strictly due to his position, I’m not sure if the third round pick will see enough playing time to have an impact.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson:
Stevenson has been described as “LeGarrette Blount but with good hands who can catch and run”. If that description doesn’t have you chomping at the bit to see this guy play, I don’t know what will. Unfortunately, I see his first season going much like Damien Harris’ did. The fans will clamor for him, but I doubt he get’s any meaningful playtime. With Sony Michel wanting to prove himself in his last season with the team and Harris emerging as a potential starter, there just may not be enough snaps for this rookie.
LB Cameron McGrone:
McGrone tore his ACL last season so his first year with the Patriots will likely be spent on IR. Even if he comes off at some point, don’t expect him to do anything noteworthy. See ya in 2022 my friend.
S Joshuah Bledsoe:
Bledsoe spent a good amount of the offseason rehabbing from wrist surgery, so who knows where he’ll start the 2021 season. When Bledsoe does eventually get on the field, there’s a good reason for optimism. He played all over the defense in his college days spending time at safety, corner and even some linebacker, so that versatility will likely keep him on Belichick’s good side. He will have to find time to play in a pretty good defensive backfield though, so who knows how often he’ll take meaningful snaps.
OL William Sherman:
Sherman will likely be a good depth piece for his first season. That’s not saying he can’t fill in when needed or turn into a solid starter, but for his rookie year, he’ll be a backup. Maybe if an injury occurs and he’s thrust into a starting role we’ll see what he’s got. But no one hopes for injuries, so Sherman will have to wait to show what he can really do.
WR Tre Nixon:
Ernie Adams’ last pick as a part of the New England Patriots organization. Nixon will definitely have eyes on him due to that fact, but there’s a reason Adams picked him. Nixon has amazing speed and quickness and that’s always welcome on an NFL roster. Being a wide receiver, Nixon has an interesting opportunity ahead of him. With Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne set to be the starters, what follows is still somewhat in flux. Of course Meyers is still there, but whose to say Nixon doesn’t wow this coaches and battle for time with Jakobi? I think Nixon will show flashes this year, but will he have the most impact? I’m not sure.
Verdict: Christian Barmore
I think Christian Barmore will be one of the most impactful rookies on the Patriots 2021 season. Mac Jones is the trendy pick, and I get it. But I just don’t think Cam Newton is going to stumble as much as some Pats fans think he will. And if Newton plays well, Jones won’t see the field as soon as some fans want.
Unlike Jones or even Ronnie Perkins, he won’t have to wait for the people in front of him to stumble to get significant playing time. Barmore will almost certainly be a mainstay on this defensive line by the end of the season. Given his talent and significant upside, once the final snap has been played on this season, Christian Barmore will be on his way to being known as yet another great Patriots defensive lineman.
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(Featured Photo Credit: patriotswire.usatoday.com)