It's easy to forget the 73rd pick of April's draft. By the time Stevan Ridley's name was called, all the talk turned to the Patriots' next pick, when they took Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett 74th overall.
Combine that with the fact that Ridley wasn't even the first back the Patriots drafted, and few have discussed a guy who was LSU's leading rusher in 2010.
"It's not where you get picked, it's what you do when you get there," Ridley told PFW. "I can't tell you how excited I am."
Ridley left LSU after his junior season. He pointed out the risk of injury after his teammate, Charles Scott, stayed at LSU for his senior year and broke his collarbone. "[Scott] went from a second- or third-rounder to a [sixth-rounder]," said Ridley, who totaled 1,147 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns last season. The crowded backfield that LSU utilized, which Ridley said is part of the school's tradition, also made his decision to leave easier.
"Getting the 1,400 or 1,500 yards to really up my stock that much more to be a first-rounder, the chances of me getting those carries would be slim," he said. "I was very fortunate to have the year I had. I knew that I had the shot to pursue my dream. I had to take that shot."
The 5-11, 225-pound inside runner said that, ironically, he spent a lot of time at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis talking to Mallett and California RB Shane Vereen, two of his new teammates. New England selected Vereen, a quick and effective receiving back, with the 56th overall pick.
"For (the Patriots) to pick me up a few picks after Shane Vereen caught me by surprise. But the draft is a chess game. You never know what teams are going to do," Ridley said. "I can't be more excited, regardless of whether I was picked before or after Shane Vereen." Ridley said that the Patriots told him they liked him and wanted a bigger back, but he was still nervous as he watched other backs get selected.
Ridley is working out at LSU until the lockout ends with fellow former Tigers who are active NFL players.
"Our strength coach, Tommy Moffitt, is the best in the business in getting players ready to play ball. He throws us right in the rotation like we never left college," Ridley said.
Ridley joins a running attack that ranked ninth in the NFL last season and an offense that led the league in scoring. The big back enjoyed the shared backfield that he ran in at LSU, saying it keeps the backs' legs fresh, and he's ready to be thrown into a Patriots' backfield that often has employed a RB-by-committee approach.
"I'm dealing with the best offensive line and best quarterback in the NFL, so the holes are going to be there. I think we're going to have an awesome backfield," he said. "I bring a downhill running style. I'm no blazer at all. I'm the back that can go in there for four or five yards a carry. I know my role.
"What you are going to get with me is a dedicated player, an unselfish player and a player who's willing to do whatever it takes to win. That's my attitude. I think my production is best between the tackles. Now I have to see how Coach [Bill] Belichick wants to use me."
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