Patriots boost pass rush, draft Oklahoma OLB Ronnie Perkins in third round

With their final pick on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, the Patriots drafted Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins on Friday night.

Perkins was the widely-viewed best player available at 96th overall, where he fell after reportedly failing a drug test in college. Perkins was highly productive as three-year starter at Oklahoma, averaging one tackle for loss per game. The 6-foot-3, 253-pounder should fit nicely in New England as an edge defender capable of playing in odd and event fronts.

He was consistently disruptive in college, recording 11.5 sacks and 24 TFLs over his last two seasons. Perkins was also suspended for six games, starting with a College Football Playoff semifinal in Jan. 2020, then first five kickoffs of last season. Perkins addressed his suspension during a conference call with reporters after getting drafted.

“Just going through some off-the-field things that I really had to get figured out as a person,” Perkins said.

Upon returning in October, he posted 5.5 sacks in six games and went on to earn All-Big 12 second-team honors. Perkins carries impressive strength in his upper body, which he showcased by knocking out 25 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at his Pro Day. He also ran a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash and leapt 32 inches in the vertical jump.

Perkins is regarded as more of a power player than a twitchy, athletic pass rusher. He said he met with Pats outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick during the draft process, though never with Bill Belichick. The team wanted to know mostly about his background and personality. His college coaches have said Perkins was a leader on defense.

The St. Louis native first burst onto the college scene a freshman All-American in 2018, when he finished with five sacks and started the second half of the Sooners’ season. The following year, he started all 13 games as a sophomore before getting suspended. Perkins curiously finished with just one pass breakup for his career.

He was seen as a top-50 prospect by prominent media evaluators, including those at Pro Football Focus and former Eagles and Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah, now of NFL Media.

In New England, Perkins will join Matthew Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Tashawn Bower and Rashod Berry on the edge.

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