Pierre Strong Jr.
RB - NE
Fourth round pick, but NE also took Kevin Harris in the sixth. Very crowded backfield.
6/22: With James White rumored to be a PUP or even cut-candidate, Pierre Strong has gained hype as White's successor as he flashes in early minicamp. An invaluable role for an explosive talent could mean huge late-round upside
Why Bill, why? This is why we can't have nice things. Pierre Strong landing in the running back roulette room that is Foxboro is nightmare fuel. Damien Harris is an unrestricted free agent in 2023, which offers some hope but not much. James White is under contract for the next two seasons, and last year's fourth-round pick Rhamondre Stevenson is still hanging around. Strong landing in New England is also curious because he excels on zone runs which have not been a mainstay for this team. The Patriots have been a ground game rooted in gap and power concepts. Strong tumbled in my rankings and now only sits as a late-round dart option.
For any small-school running back to make a living in the NFL, they need to dominate their competition in college. That's what gives South Dakota State's Pierre Strong Jr. a chance to make a splash at the next level.
Strong finished with a top-10 career and single-season dominator rating while grading out as PFF's highest rusher (95.6). His 3.3 yards per play also ranks second among running backs in his class, which is a great indicator of future success. Last year's late-round standouts in that category included Elijah Mitchell and Rhamondre Stevenson.
The 5-foot-11 and 207-pound back also blazed a 4.37 40-yard dash (95th percentile), tying him with Rutgers' Isiah Pacheco for the fastest running back time.
Additionally, Strong jumped 36″ in the vertical (71st percentile) and 124″ in the broad jump (84th percentile).
Strong's "strong" outing will almost certainly boost his draft stock for both the real-life NFL and fantasy rookie drafts. High-end college RB producers that display above-average athleticism tend to hit at the next level.
The South Dakota State running back gives off strong Darren McFadden vibes (in a good way).
Positives - Very fast, Good Vision, Made big plays in the passing game
Negatives - Won't break many tackles, Not very elusive, Lower level of competition
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