The New England Patriots opted to target a running back in Round 4 on Sunday and like their earlier selection of wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, speed was clearly a factor in their decision.
With the #127 overall pick the Patriots selected South Dakota State running back Pierre Strong Jr., who brings an element of speed and power, checking a couple of key boxes the team has been looking for in recent years.
He’s listed at 5’11”, 205lbs but what’s really impressive about him is how strong and quick he is. He’s not a player who goes down on first contact, and he’s got an incredibly smooth change of direction where he seemingly glides to his left or right, evading defenders with tremendous – and deceptive – acceleration for a guy his size.
He fits the mold for who Belichick has been favoring in recent years, primarily bringing in guys who are big, tough ball carriers who enjoy inflicting punishment on the opposition.
But with Strong, he’s not only strong (that’s an odd sentence to write), but he’s also incredibly athletic and is a player who is even harder to bring down once he gets into open space and just when defenders seem to think they can track him down, he just takes off and he’s gone.
He rushed for 4,495 yards in his four years, which included three 1,000 yard seasons. He also averaged 7.1 yards per carry, which is an indication of how hard he obviously runs. He also scored 40 rushing touchdowns, which included a career-high 18 TDs in 2021, along with almost 1,700 yards rushing.
He also saw some targets out of the backfield, catching 22 passes for 150 yards last season while also finishing a perfect 4-of-4 throwing the football with 4 touchdowns. Those passes seem to have come during trick plays down in the red zone, which he executed perfectly. In fact, he’s a perfect 9/9 with 6 touchdowns throwing the football during his collegiate career.
For a guy his size, he also impressed at the combine after running the fastest 40-time among running backs, which was a 4.37.
That’s obviously a big asset but it’s how he runs that is really impressive. He possesses that type of speed, yet he’s patient, follows his block, accelerates, and then doesn’t go down on first contact and takes off from there.
He’s not necessarily a guy who is going to overpower and carry the pile, but anyone who simply tries to put a big hit on him or arm tackle isn’t going to be able to bring him down.
As a result, he’s another great addition to an already talented group. But with some uncertainty ahead with Damien Harris among others, it appears Bill Belichick may be trying to make sure Mac Jones has plenty of people who can step in and get the job done as they continue revamping their roster.
Here’s a highlight video, which showcases a lot of the things discussed. But he’s a solid selection and he’ll definitely be fun to watch when the team hits the field a few months from now during training camp.
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Draft
Tags: 2022 Patriots Draft New England Patriots Pierre Strong Jr. South Dakota State