2021 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Rhamondre Stevenson (Fantasy Football)
The University of Oklahoma has produced its fair share of fantasy football stars in recent seasons: Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts at quarterback, CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown at wide receiver, and Mark Andrews at tight end. There have been fewer success stories from the backfield, with Joe Mixon as arguably the only fantasy-relevant running back to come out of Oklahoma over the past decade. Rhamondre Stevenson will be the next Sooner to get his shot in the NFL, but will he follow in the professional ball-carrying footsteps of Joe Mixon or Samaje Perine? Let’s take a look.
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2021 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the brand-new UDK+ for 2021.
College Production Profile
|Games||Rush Att||Rush Yards||Yards/Att||Rush TD||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Rec TD|
Stevenson didn’t take a straight-line path to becoming an NFL draft prospect. He was well on his way after being named the Las Vegas Sun Player of the Year as a junior in high school but after missing most of his senior season with a broken foot and struggling academically, he had to take the junior college route. During his second year at Cerrito College, he posted a ridiculous 2,111 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, averaging 9.5 yards/carry along the way. It was enough to earn him an offer from college powerhouse Oklahoma.
He joined a crowded backfield in Norman that already included Kennedy Brooks, Trey Sermon, and rushing quarterback Jalen Hurts. He finished his first season there as the team’s third-leading rusher with 515 yards on the ground, though he easily led the way with 8.0 yards per tote. In 2020, Hurts moved on to the NFL, Brooks opted out for the season, and Sermon transferred to Ohio State. Stevenson, however, missed the first five games of his senior season due to a suspension from a failed drug test at the end of 2019. Upon his return, he rushed for 665 yards and added another 211 through the air, easily leading Oklahoma in total yards from scrimmage despite his suspension-shortened season. He finished his Sooner career with 1,478 total yards on the back of 7.7 yards/touch.
|Height||Weight||40-yard dash (HS)||Wingspan||Hand Size||247 Sports|
Between Cerritos College and Oklahoma, Stevenson has been listed as tall as 6’1” and as heavy as 246 pounds. His Senior Bowl numbers, listed above, came in considerably lower. Either way, he’ll be one of, if not the largest back in the 2021 draft. He’s built to handle a full workload in the NFL if given the opportunity. His 40-yard dash time of 4.64 seconds from high school is respectable enough but his draft stock could climb if he can bring it down on Oklahoma’s pro day on March 12.
What’s on Tape
Full Games Viewed: Texas Tech (2020), Oklahoma St. (2020), Florida (2020)
1. Stevenson has a unique combination of power and wiggle.
Given his large frame, Stevenson’s ability to break through tacklers shouldn’t come as a surprise. He has no problem initiating contact, running through arm tackles, and powering over smaller defenders in the open field. His shiftiness, however, isn’t regularly found in a back his size. He frequently showed the ability to pick his way through a pile or sidestep a defender in space. His shiftiness is on full display in the clip below where he changes direction three different times to avoid multiple tackle attempts on his way to a 13-yard touchdown run.
2. He can be used as a weapon through the air
Stevenson will never be a pass-catching specialist, but he’s skilled enough to be a receiving option out of the backfield. He may not be an elite route runner but his soft hands and explosiveness make him a weapon on short screens and check-downs. True three-down backs are a rare breed in today’s NFL and while Stevenson isn’t likely to get that type of role, he can make plays through the air when called upon. The following clip shows just how dangerous he can be when catching the ball in space.
3. He has a nose for the end zone
At first glance, Stevenson profiles as a goal-line back, and that assessment is…correct. When handed the ball near the end zone, he has a pretty strong chance of breaking the plane. He consistently runs with a low center of gravity and continues churning his legs on contact. He hit paydirt seven times in just six games during his senior year in college. If he secures a role in an NFL offense it’s safe to assume that it will include work at goal-line, which would directly lead to fantasy points.
What’s NOT on Tape
1. Elite speed
Don’t get me wrong, Stevenson isn’t slow, but he doesn’t have the top-end speed you typically see from the league’s premier backs. His inability to straight-up run away from faster defenders makes him more of a grinder than a homerun hitter. That isn’t the worst thing, but it definitely caps his fantasy upside.
2. An abundance of carries against top competition
Given his path through collegiate football, Stevenson has had limited opportunities against top competition. He only logged 165 carries over his two years at Oklahoma. By contrast, Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams, and Kenneth Gainwell all had individual seasons with more carries. His small sample size at the highest level of collegiate football doesn’t preclude him from NFL success, but it certainly won’t help his draft stock.
2021 Fantasy Outlook
Like so many running backs, his landing spot is going to be key for Stevenson’s fantasy outlook. He’s likely to be a day two or three draft pick that won’t be handed a starting job. He’d be an ideal fit for a team that plans to utilize a running-back-by-committee approach. He profiles similar to Gus Edwards and would be a nice fit in Baltimore if the Ravens don’t re-sign the Gus Bus. He could also compliment a more versatile back, a la Latavious Murray complimenting Alvin Kamara. His best-case scenario could be pairing with a smaller pass-catching back in a good offense. Joining Austin Ekeler in Los Angeles, for example, could potentially give him immediate fantasy value in redraft leagues. Alternatively, he’d be nothing more than a late-round flier in dynasty rookie drafts if he lands on a team with an established pecking order in the backfield like Cleveland or Minnesota.