Patriots

20 Under 25 results: Who says Belichick and the Pats can't draft?

Patriots

The New England Patriots are old. Bill Belichick can't draft. At least, that's what we've been told in recent years as young talent has struggled to find the spotlight in Foxboro.

But as the calendar flips to 2022, the Patriots' future appears to be in great hands. Of the 12 Patriots candidates for our annual 20 Under 25 rankings, seven made it into the top 20. Three of them were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, and a Patriots rookie even held off Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum for the coveted No. 1 spot.

Linebacker Ronnie Perkins (28th), cornerback Shaun Wade (29th), running back J.J. Taylor (30th), wide receiver N'Keal Harry (31st), and tight end Devin Asiasi (32nd) were the New England players to miss the cut.

FULL RANKINGS | More '20 Under 25' results: Bruins | Red Sox | Celtics

Here are the Patriots representatives on this year's 20 Under 25 list, along with their ranks and ratings:

1. Mac Jones, QB

Previous Ranking: N/A | FAN RATING: 93.3

USA TODAY Sports

Jones edged out Tatum (93.1 rating) to debut at No. 1 on our 20 Under 25 list. The 23-year-old quarterback has played like a grizzled veteran for most of the 2021 NFL campaign, leading the Patriots to a 9-4 record and the top seed in the AFC through the first 14 weeks. The fifth QB taken in the 2021 NFL Draft at No. 15 overall, Jones currently is the frontrunner for 2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Pats fans seem to believe they've found their franchise QB, and it's hard to argue with that assessment.

 

4. Christian Barmore, DT

Previous Ranking: N/A | FAN RATING: 87.3

USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots trading up in the 2021 NFL Draft and snagging Barmore at No. 38 overall is looking like a brilliant decision. The Alabama product has been outstanding throughout his rookie season as he consistently pressures the quarterback game-in and game-out. At only 22 years old, this 311-pounder looks to be a key part of this Pats defense for the foreseeable future.

5. Damien Harris, RB

Previous Ranking: 6 (85.08) | FAN RATING: 83.5

USA TODAY Sports

Harris works his way into the top five amid a rock-solid third NFL season. The soon-to-be 25-year-old enters Week 15 with a career-high 754 rushing yards and nine touchdowns through 12 games played. As the Patriots' primary back, Harris has taken a load off Mac Jones' shoulders and helped to produce one of the league's best running games. Heck of a way for him to wrap up his 20 Under 25 eligibility.

7. Rhamondre Stevenson, RB

Previous Ranking: N/A | FAN RATING: 82.8

USA TODAY Sports

Stevenson is yet another example of Belichick's stellar work in the 2021 draft. The 23-year-old has 100 carries for 429 yards and three TDs through his first nine NFL games. He's also proven to be a threat through the air with 12 catches for 117 yards. Stevenson has been an excellent complement to Harris in New England's backfield and should only improve with more reps. The former Oklahoma standout could work his way into the 20 Under 25 top five next year if he continues to impress.

9. Jake Bailey, P

Previous Ranking: N/A | FAN RATING: 81.5

USA TODAY Sports

Bailey wasn't nominated last year, but it's clear Patriots fans think highly of their punter as the 24-year-old earned the No. 9 spot this time around. Given the fact he was first-team All-Pro in 2020, we probably shouldn't be too surprised. Still, it's jarring to see a punter earn a top 10 spot over some talented skill position players.

10. Michael Onwenu, OL

Previous Ranking: 8 (82.84) | FAN RATING: 81.4

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Onwenu debuted at No. 8 during his rookie campaign and although he fell to No. 10 this year, he's still one of New England's most promising youngsters. The 350-pounder remains a Pro Football Focus darling despite seeing the field less than he did in 2020. He'll turn 25 next December.

13. Josh Uche, LB

Previous Ranking: 14 (75.07) | FAN RATING: 77.0

USA TODAY Sports

Uche, 23, gains one spot in this year's 20 Under 25 rankings and gets a slight fan rating boost amid his second NFL season. The second-rounder out of Michigan has shown some flashes of brilliance as a pass-rusher with three sacks in his nine games played in 2021. He's currently on injured reserve, but he'll look to continue to improve when he eventually returns to a New England defense that's been sensational as of late.

Check out the full "20 Under 25" results below:

The history of NBC Sports Boston's 20 Under 25' Rankings