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Don't underestimate Stevan Ridley

Posted by David Sabino  July 24, 2013 09:53 AM

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ridleyTD.jpgWith camp opening in Friday now is as good a time as any for people to stop underestimating Patriots lead back Stevan Ridley. Following the most tumultuous offseason in team history during which Tom Brady’s receiving corps was decimated, it’ll most likely be Ridley who will pick up the slack for the 2013 offense, and he’ll be up to the task. He’s answered every call thus far.

vereen.jpgDating back to the 2011 NFL Draft, when he was a third-round selection by New England Ridley has been the underdog. Not only was he just the seventh overall running back taken, he wasn’t even the first running back Bill Belichick pulled off the board (Shane Vereen, right went in the second round as the third running back). Thus far he’s been at the head of the class, leading every ‘11 draft alum in rushing yards, attempts and placing second to no. 1 overall pick Cam Newton in rushing touchdowns. In fact, a case can be made that the third-year man from LSU who was taken 73rd overall is one of the top 15 most talented players drafted that April, a group that includes superstars like Newton, Von Miller, A.J Green. Julio Jones, Colin Kaepernick, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt, nearly all of whom were taken before Ridley.

As an NFL sophomore he was tied with Adrian Peterson for third in the NFL in rushing touchdowns (12), was seventh overall in rushing yards (1,263) and 10th in rushes of at least 10 yards. In 2013 he also has a very good shot at becoming one of the most productive runners through three seasons that the Patriots ever drafted, needing 1,292 yards to pass Jim Nance’s 2,995 yards from 1965 through 1967, second on the alltime list only to Curtis Martin’s 3,799 yards from 1995 through 1997. (He’s already ninth on the list). And like Nance, Ridley started just a fraction of the games he played during his first two seasons.

Here are the most productive Patriots runners through their first three NFL Seasons:Ridleyjpg.jpg

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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