After going under the .500 mark the season after Tom Brady left, the Patriots needed to win the draft in 2021. Their most significant needs heading into the season were their glaring need for a quarterback and a defender who could generate a pass rush. The Patriots put together an excellent team for the future with an extensive spending spree in free agency. However, the most significant factor in how much success they have in the future depends on players from the 2021 Draft class development.
When describing a Bill Belichick-led defense, versatile is a word that is often used. Bill Belichick chose Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins in the third round. Perkins is very versatile, and he can disrupt offenses. Perkins is the athletic run-stopping edge the Patriots need. The Patriots’ run defense has been slightly inconsistent, and they needed help in that scope. Perkin’s development could solve the need for a run-stopping edge, which they have needed for quite a few seasons.
The Patriots selecting Christian Barmore in the second round could be a massive steal. Barmore was a first-round talent, and Bill Belichick had no hesitation picking him. Barmore showed out in his rookie year. While his sack amount isn’t high, he still had 48 pressures. The next step for Barmore’s development is being able to finish sacks. Once he’s able to do that, he has the potential to be a double-digit sack player. Barmore’s development could lead to the Patriots having a great pass-rushing duo, along with star Matthew Judon. Barmore is the most influential X factor for the Patriots’ defense.
Barmore’s development could be a massive factor in the Patriots being an elite defense. Also, with the amount of elite quarterback talent in today’s NFL, a dominant pass rusher is needed to contend. Christian Barmore needs to develop into a star defensive tackle. All the elite teams can get to the quarterback, and if you’re unable to, an offense will have a field day against your defense.
The Patriots are built on running the football and dominating the time of possession. Rhamondre Stevenson showed his talent when he had the opportunity in 2021. He had 133 carries for 606 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Stevenson emerging as a great secondary running back would create the best running back duo in league with Damien Harris and Stevenson.
A dominant run game will do wonders for the Patriots, especially with a younger quarterback. Stevenson’s development could lead to the Patriots’ offense being a great two-dimensional offense. In addition, it will allow the Patriots to constantly control the pace of games, which they love to do. Rhamondre is a prominent factor in a successful run game for the Patriots.
Ultimately, the Patriots’ ceiling and contending hopes depend on Mac Jones. The quarterback talent in the NFL today is through the roof, and building a Super Bowl contender usually requires an elite quarterback. Mac showed great promise in his 2021 season and still had much room for improvement.
Taking full advantage of the off-season, Mac Jones worked with Tom House, a renowned throwing coach who has coached all-time greats like Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Throughout camp, it is pretty clear that Mac’s arm strength has gotten significantly better. Along with better receivers, Mac can develop into a great quarterback.
Mac has also gotten into the best shape of his life. He mentioned he cleaned up his diet and became a great leader. New England has done a great job building around him and catering to his strengths. However, the quarterback is the most crucial in the NFL, and the Patriots need Mac Jones to leap.
The Patriots have a good balance of productive veterans and young promising talent. The Patriots taking the next level as a team comes from the development of the talent they already have. The degree to which some of the players mentioned before develop determines the Patriots’ ceiling. The players from the 2021 Draft could be the difference between being a fringe playoff team, a team that makes the playoffs but gets bounced early, or a Super Bowl contender. The Patriots have always been great at developing talent, and all the players mentioned need to have big years.
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