After producing Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray in the span of five years, the Oklahoma Sooners have fallen off as one of football’s running back factories. Even Joe Mixon, the team’s most accomplished NFL back of the past five years, has struggled to stay on the field and provide efficiency out of the backfield. Can Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson be the next quality running back to enter the NFL Draft out of Oklahoma?
Rhamondre Stevenson NFL Draft Profile & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: Running Back
- School: Oklahoma
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’11 5/8″
- Weight: 227 pounds
- Wingspan: 75″
- Arm: 30″
- Hand: 9″
Many players who don’t break onto the FBS stage out of high school don’t get the chance to do it at all. Yet, Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson got that chance. Stevenson was an unranked running back prospect in high school. Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, the 6-foot-0, 235-pound back had a 4.64 40-yard dash. But a broken foot in his senior season prevented him from making the leap.
Stevenson’s resolve was similarly broken from the injury. His grades suffered, and after failing to maintain academic eligibility for recruitment, he took a year off from football. After that year, Stevenson sought out opportunities at the junior college level. There, he chose to attend Cerritos College in California. It wasn’t ideal for the NFL aspirant, but Stevenson hoped to use his JUCO stint as a springboard to college football’s highest level.
Rhamondre Stevenson’s journey to becoming an Oklahoma running back
Even at the junior college level, Stevenson took time to build an adequate amount of buzz. He didn’t distinguish himself as a true freshman, but he wouldn’t have to wait long for an opportunity. As a true sophomore in 2018, Stevenson took on an increased role. He ran away with it, quite literally.
In 2018, Stevenson erupted. He logged over 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns on 222 carries. Averaging almost 10 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown on every 14 carries gave Stevenson the boost he needed. After his true sophomore season, he opened his recruitment as a JUCO prospect and had ample interest. A three-star JUCO prospect, Stevenson signed with Oklahoma in December of 2018. From there, his football career took its next step.
Rhamondre Stevenson at Oklahoma
Lincoln Riley wasted no time including Stevenson in the offensive game plan. The big-bodied Oklahoma running back quickly became part of a formidable rushing attack that included Jalen Hurts, Kennedy Brooks, and Trey Sermon. On 64 carries, Stevenson rushed for 515 yards and six touchdowns, earning eight yards per attempt.
Stevenson was supposed to play in the Peach Bowl in 2019. However, he and fellow 2021 NFL Draft prospect Ronnie Perkins were suspended for a positive THC test before the game. The suspension carried over into the first five games of the 2020 season. However, when Stevenson returned, he provided an impact just as strong.
Despite having only six games in the 2020 campaign, Stevenson rushed for 665 yards and seven touchdowns on 101 attempts. He also improved his receiving production, catching 18 balls for 211 yards. His year was punctuated by his Cotton Bowl performance against Florida. In that game, Stevenson amassed 186 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
On January 8, Stevenson officially declared for the NFL Draft. Around the same time, he was confirmed to be on the Senior Bowl roster.
Analyzing Rhamondre Stevenson’s NFL Draft profile
Standing at 6-foot-0, 246 pounds, Rhamondre Stevenson is just as burly as his measurements imply. He’s a dense runner who’s hard to bring down on single contact, and he also has the necessary physicality to use his frame effectively. Stevenson’s frame gives him good contact balance, and it also allows him to convert in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
It goes overlooked because of his size, but Stevenson is actually a decent athlete, even at 246 pounds. He has good short-area burst and decent long speed. Although he’s not a burner, his speed is far from a liability (projected 4.55 for Rhamondre Stevenson by Tony Pauline). He can stretch spaces and find creases up the sideline with his pace, and he’s also light on his feet. This allows him to execute jump cuts, use his stop-and-start ability, and stay primed to divert course.
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Stevenson doesn’t have the best elusiveness, but with his contact balance and fluidity as a runner, he has a baseline level of evasion capacity. That’s not how he’ll make his living in the NFL, but for a powerfully-built back, he has a good mix of burst, light-footedness, and fluidity, and he’s surprisingly smooth in space as a result. On top of that, the Oklahoma running back also shows flashes of impressive vision and patience.
What are Stevenson’s limitations?
As alluded to earlier, Stevenson has a degree of lateral agility, but he doesn’t often make players miss. His style revolves more around swimming through contact and navigating congestion. However, in one-on-one situations, he’s more likely to win with a stiff arm or pure leg drive. With that being said, Stevenson does have a good spin move in his arsenal.
It also makes sense to go over Stevenson’s athletic traits one more time. As mentioned before, Stevenson has exceptional explosiveness and good speed. However, I’m not sure he has any elite athletic traits, at least from a mobility standpoint. He’s able to compensate somewhat with his balance through contact and sheer momentum as a runner, but he’s rarely going to win foot races outright or erupt into open space.
Furthermore, Stevenson’s utility as a receiver is still somewhat unproven. In two seasons with the Sooners, Stevenson never found the end zone through the air. Although his receiving production improved in 2020, he didn’t definitively prove that he has the versatility to catch out of the backfield at the NFL level. With that being said, Stevenson is trending up there, and his combination of explosiveness and contact balance gives him some potential.
Rhamondre Stevenson’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Rhamondre Stevenson is a player who’s been overlooked throughout the draft cycle thus far. However, in truth, he’s a solid running back who has a chance to be a potential starter in the NFL. That may come as a surprise because, on the surface, he looks like the traditional short-yardage running back. Yet, Stevenson has a nice mix of explosiveness, smooth running through space, and contact balance, and with more development as a receiver, he could be a weapon.
Personally, I like Stevenson more than a lot of mid-round backs. His athletic profile, while not elite, is well-rounded. He should produce either as a workhorse or as a rotational back, and he also has good ability as a pass blocker.
Having said that, the value of running backs in general is stunted in the modern NFL, so Stevenson is likely an early Day 3 pick. However, with his strong finish at the college football level, I could see a team taking him at the tail end of Round 3 if he tests well enough and impresses at the Senior Bowl.
Which teams could benefit the most from Stevenson’s value?
For teams that have extra needs beyond running back, or for teams that prefer to wait for value deals at the position, Stevenson is a great add in Round 4 or Round 5. He allows teams to focus on more important positions up front while also nabbing starting potential later on.
Teams like the Jets, Bengals, Falcons, Giants, and Steelers could be especially good fits for Stevenson. However, as a rotational back, he has appeal for many other squads as well.
It wouldn’t be all too surprising to see Stevenson as a back producing at the NFL level in a few years. He doesn’t quite have the proven ability to earn a starting role right away, but he’s shown before that he can be productive working out of a committee. He may be one of those backs who spends his first few years in a committee, then breaks out down the road. The running back position is incredibly volatile each year, so there could be opportunities for Stevenson to start eventually.
If he can solidify his reputation as a receiver, Rhamondre Stevenson has all the ideal traits to contribute.
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