The New England Patriots selected a franchise-low four selections during the 2017 NFL Draft, one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. While it was disappointing for the Patriots to wait until selection number 83 during a draft where first round talent would be available in the second round, the Patriots did a good job filling in the rest of their roster with young talent.
Without any further ado, let’s get straight to the selections and see how the Patriots did on each draft pick.
EDGE Derek Rivers (83rd overall pick), 6’4″ 248 lbs, Youngstown State- Great pick here by the Patriots. I will admit I did not know much about Rivers before the draft, but as I’ve watched more film on this kid, he can play.
It will be interesting to see whether Rivers production can continue, considering he was going against smaller school competition, but he has great work ethic and good athleticism for an edge rusher.
This selection was surprising because Belichick typically values larger sized defensive ends, but what Rivers lacks in size, he makes up for in work ethic, athleticism and versatility. Rivers can play both stand up 3-4 OLB or a three point stance 4-3 DE.
He has some work to do, especially in the run game, but I expect him to contribute out of the gate as a passing downs only edge rusher to go get the quarterback.
OT Antonio Garcia (85th overall pick), 6’6″ 302 lbs, Troy- I listed Garcia as a potential draft target for the Patriots, and looks like coach Belichick was reading my articles. This is another great pick by the Patriots and it makes a ton of sense.
Starting left tackle Nate Solder has been rock solid protecting Tom Brady’s blind side, but he is up for a new contract after the 2017 season. With the money being thrown at blind-side protectors, if Solder hits the open market, I’m not sure whether he would return to Foxborough.
One of Bill Belichick’s main mantras is to always be a year early than a year too late, and that is what he did when he selected Nate Solder in the first round back in the 2011 NFL Draft. Remember, they had long time OT Matt Light entrenched as the starter. The Patriots groomed Solder behind Light, since they knew Light was going to retire soon, and left tackle is one of the most important positions in the sport.
Garcia has almost everything from an athletic standpoint. He is tall, long arms and has great, fluid hips, as well as excellent feet movement, mostly because he used to play basketball in high school.
However, Garcia needs to bulk up a little more, especially in his lower body to gain more leverage in run blocking situations. He fluctuated between 280-290 pounds during his senior year, according to one NFC scout, so you’d like to see Garcia stay around 305-310 range, at least.
DI Deatrich Wise (131st overall pick), 6’5″ 274 lbs, Arkansas- Wise was an edge rusher at Arkansas, but I project him to be more of a two gapping defensive interior lineman with the Patriots when they go to their 3-4 alignments.
Wise lacks the lateral agility and burst to be effective off the edge in the NFL, but he has rare arm length and a powerful upper body to become at the very least, a rotational interior defensive lineman.
Wise has a high motor and exceptional strength to shed blocks from interior offensive linemen, but is also effective in using his arms to go upfield and disrupt both running lanes and the pocket with interior rush moves.
All in all, a high motor guy with limited athleticism, but the raw power and strength, along with size, to possibly give bigger interior linemen some trouble in both the passing and running game.
OT Conor McDermott (211th overall pick), 6’8″ 307 lbs, UCLA- The only Patriots selection I did not like, at all. I thought Elijah Qualls from Washington would have been great selection here, considering their lack of interior defensive linemen who can rush the passer. Instead, the Patriots double dip at offensive tackle.
While McDermott has the size you want in an NFL left tackle, he is just not strong enough to play at the next level. An AFC scout said about McDermott, “Just not strong enough to play in our league. Unless he finds more core (strength), I can’t see him being able to survive against power.”
I agree with the scout here. McDermott not only lacks core strength, but lacks lower body strength and is often too upright, allowing edge rushers to gain leverage underneath and bull rush McDermott straight into his own quarterback.
However, McDermott does have the athleticism and size necessary to play in the NFL. If he can gain strength in an NFL workout program without losing much of his athleticism, and learn from offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, he could potentially have a future. It is a tough spot though, because if he gains strength and loses his athleticism, it is just as bad.
Overview: I did not like the fact that the Patriots did not trade in to at least the second round, with as talented a draft class as we have seen in quite some time. Not only that, but the fact they double dipped at two positions, making up their whole draft was not exciting.
They had two really solid selections, one adequate selection and a poor one to finish the draft off. Just because of the lack of picks, you have to knock the Patriots draft grade down quite a bit. It is also scary to think that the Patriots have only had one selection in the top 64 the past two years, and that selection was cornerback Cyrus Jones.
Overall draft grade: C+