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Dec 7, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Ronnie Perkins (7) reacts during the first quarter against the Baylor Bears in the 2019 Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There’s one thing all elite players in the NFL have in common – confidence. Confidence may be among the most important intangibles in football, and 2021 Patriots third-round pick Ronnie Perkins certainly is bringing plenty of it to New England.

Asked by the media in his introductory press conference what he wanted fans to know about him, he flipped the question. “In the long run, I definitely know the Patriots fans will love me,” he said, turning it around. “Just from watching the past Patriots defensive greats, I definitely know they will love me and the way I play.”

Which Patriots ‘defensive greats’ make him believe that? Asked who specifically from the organization’s history he’s looked up to or modeled his game after, Perkins offered some true franchise cornerstones.

“I’ll say Willie McGinest, Dont’a Hightower,” he replied. “I’d also probably say Stephon Gilmore,” he added.

How does an edge rusher see similarities between his game and a man-to-man corner. Perkins said it’s not about the skillset, but the mindset. “Stephon Gilmore, he’s a silent assassin. I’d definitely say him because he’s a silent assassin, he lets his play do the talking,” Perkins explained.

It’s not just on the field Perkins hopes to make an impact with the Patriots. “As a person, they’re getting a guy who loves to interact with the community, who loves to interact with the fans, so they’ll definitely see me around New England a lot,” he said. “I just can’t wait to go out there and get there and get the whole thing, like man, I’m really a Patriot now. I just can’t wait.”

Perkins’ first taste of the Patriots’ experience came during the pre-draft process. “I spoke to the Patriots I wouldn’t say a lot of times, but I spoke to them a few times,” he recalled. “I would definitely say walking away from the interviews that I had with them, I felt positive that I did a great job in talking to them.”

He went on to say the whole experience left him star struck, even without an interaction with Bill Belichick himself. Just the last name alone was enough to make him soak in the moment.

“Really the whole thing, like I said, I was mind-blown. I wasn’t talking to Coach Bill Belichick but I was talking to Coach Steve Belichick [outside linebackers] and I was really still mind-blown that I was talking to somebody who is part of the Belichick family. You mention that name, that’s just one of the most legendary head coaches in the NFL. So just to be talking to his son who will probably be just like him in a few years – definitely talking to him was a huge blessing and I was super excited. Now I’m super excited to go in and play for both of those guys.”

We’ll see how Perkins’ confidence meshes with his awe of the organization as Perkins gets assimilated into the culture. But early on, he seems like somebody who is fully bought in on the Patriots, and who Patriots fans can fully get behind.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.