Want to know why the New England Patriots felt comfortable trading 2018 first-round pick Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday?
ESPN's Louis Riddick hinted at the answer Thursday night.
Riddick has been watching preseason film of Patriots rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson and apparently has loved what he's seen out of the Oklahoma product.
Riddick knows how to evaluate talent: He spent a total of 13 years as a pro scout and director of player personnel for both the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. So, his endorsement of Stevenson is a promising sign that New England's fourth-round pick can be a productive NFL running back.
Stevenson's Patriots tenure got off to a rocky start. After he failed his conditioning test, running backs coach Ivan Fears noted "everything's got to improve" with Stevenson's game.
The 23-year-old has made significant strides since then, however, rushing for a combined 193 yards on 25 attempts with four touchdowns over two preseason games, highlighted by a 91-yard rumble against Washington.
As Riddick pointed out, Stevenson's on-field performance is more important than his results on a conditioning test.
Damien Harris is the Patriots' clear lead back entering 2021, and Stevenson will have to fight for playing time in a deep group that includes James White, J.J. Taylor and Brandon Bolden. But after parting with Michel, it sounds like the Patriots agree with Riddick's assessment that their latest running back draft pick can make a real impact.