Syndication: Argus Leader
Erin Woodiel / Argus Leader / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Patriots are adding some speed to their backfield. With the No. 127 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, New England selected South Dakota State running back Pierre Strong. 

The 5-foot-11-207 pounder was a four-year starter for the Jackrabbits and put together a very productive 2021 season. As a redshirt senior, Strong rushed for 1,686 yards on 7 yards per carry and tallied 18 touchdowns en route to a first-team FCS All-American nod. As a pass-catcher, he hauled in 22 passes for 150 yards in 2021. Of course, the Patriots love versatility, so the fact that Strong also was able to complete all four of his pass attempts last year for 62 yards and four touchdowns does present the opportunity for him to take part in some trick players as well. 

However, the most eye-popping aspect of Strong's game is his speed. His 4.37 time in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine was tied for the fastest among running backs. 

How Strong fits with Patriots

Strong now joins a backfield that consists of Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, J.J. Taylor, and Devine Ozigbo (could also factor running back/receiver Ty Montgomery into this equation as well). That's a healthy amount of backs, so Strong may be on the outside looking in on playing time out of the gate. His role in this offense may be aimed more toward 2023 with Harris entering this coming season on the final year of his rookie contract.  

Grade: C+

Chris Trapasso: Super-explosive zone-blocking scheme type with some juking skill but not overly elusive. Multiple years of high-level productivity at the FCS level. Not exactly a scheme fit but naturally skilled runner. 

Scouting report

Rating: 67.65 (Role player)

Pro Comparison: Chuba Hubbard


Rushed for at least 1,000 yards in three of his fours seasons and averaged more than seven yards per carry in those seasons, which included 18 rushing touchdowns in 2021. Built low to the ground and can move -- he ran a 4.37 40 at the coming. Has the ability to jump cut to find the gap on the backside, and can run through arm tackles all day long. Quick feet buy him time and space to earn extra yards in tight areas, and he's patient in the backfield before exploding through the hole to the second level.


Won't consistently run through a lot of defenders because of his smallish frame, and the level of competition will be a factor NFL teams must weigh when they stack their respective draft boards.


  • 2021: First-team FCS All-American
  • 2021: Led FCS with 1,686 rush yards and ranked second with 18 rush TDs