With the 2017 NFL Draft in the rearview and the first preseason game not for another 87 days, it’s time to begin analyzing the future state of the New England Patriots. In addition, we are looking at a team coming off an unforgettable Super Bowl win, a win that will go down in the history books as the greatest comeback of all time and should cement quarterback Tom Brady as the greatest of all time.
That was February. Never mind that. Never mind Cincinnati or any other past games because guess what folks? It’s time to move onto this season’s Super Bowl run.
While most draft enthusiasts were able to watch their teams select players in the first and second rounds, Patriots fans didn’t get to hear their first selection until 10:30pm EST of Day 2. Coming into the draft with only 50-75 players on the Patriots’ draft board, according to Nick Caserio, New England was going to have to make every pick count.
This is where thing’s got interesting, as they generally do in Foxboro. Moments before the New England Patriots were on the clock to make their first selection, they traded with the Tennessee Titans in order to receive Tennessee’s third (83) and fourth-round (124) picks in exchange for the New England’s third (72) and sixth-round (200) picks. After 3 rounds, the wait would continue.
Finally, without further ado, it was time to hear who the New England Patriots would select with their first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft…
DE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State. Third-round, 83rd overall selection.
While it may be blatantly obvious that Bill Belichick is chasing yet another ring, fans anticipate he won’t go chasing waterfalls anytime soon. At 248 pounds, Derek Rivers weighs less than your prototypical edge defender. What he lacks in weight, he makes up with a high motor and great versatility, a trait the Patriots covet. Due to his size, however, it is possible Rivers spends a large amount of time as a situational pass rusher his first year.
That isn’t to say he will struggle getting to the quarterback. He has outstanding burst when getting off the line and shows determination on every snap. Not all scouts felt he gave the best production on tape during his collegiate time in an FCS program, but the general consensus is he will be a great fit for the Patriots.
One particular reason is because this stout, young player has already been exposed The Patriot Way in college. Youngstown State Head Coach, Bo Pelini, is a former linebackers coach for the New England Patriots and is someone coach Bill Belichick still actively seeks information from. While asking Bo about 2016 draft prospect Vincent Valentine, Bill already had Derek Rivers on his radar a year prior to being draft eligible.
OT Antonio Garcia, Troy. Third-Round, 85th overall selection.
It didn’t take long for the New England Patriots to make another draft pick. Whether Bill Belichick was tired of waiting or wanted to jump ahead of the New York Giants, who also are in need for offensive lineman, the Patriots moved up in the draft by trading with the Detroit Lions. GM Bob Quinn, a former member of the Patriot’s front office, was willing to move back in the draft by sending the 85th overall pick in return for the Patriots’ 96th and 124th (from Tennessee) selections.
It’s safe to say this was was an incredibly weak draft class for offensive linemen. The first one to be taken off the board was Garrett Bolles, who is 25 years old and brings a lot of off-field baggage to the NFL. Garcia, who is projected to be Nate Solder’s successor, will have to put on mass as well as additional strength in order to start at the position full time.
That’s not to say Antonio Garcia doesn’t pack a punch. He plays with overwhelming tenacity and will fight until the play is dead. He leverages himself extremely well against much larger pass rushers and has the agility to prevent them from maneuvering past him. Don’t expect to see a day one starter like last year’s third-round pick G Joe Thuney, but Antonio Garcia is most certainly a player than can anchor the Patriots’ offensive line in the years to come.
DE Deatrich Wise, Arkansas. Fourth-round, 131st overall pick.
On the 3rd day of the NFL draft, Bill Belichick took another defensive edge player that boasts 35 inch arms with enormous hands (10 1/2″) to match. To say the least, this is a player that should be incredibly hands-on early in his tenure in Foxboro.
Wise is a significantly different mold when compared to 3rd round pick Derek Rivers; Wise is a heavier framed edge defender that can bull-rush his way to the quarterback instantaneously. What he lacks in athleticism, he makes up with brute force and can be a solid 2-gap player in Matt Patricia’s defense. The tape Deatrich put on film his junior year of college was exceptionally better than what was seen during his senior year, but fully expect Bill Belichick to channel deep into all of this young player’s untapped potential.
He also has received a warm welcoming to Foxboro, as DE Trey Flowers is also a product of Arkansas and is excited to work with Deatrich Wise. 2017 should bring excitement for the two as they begin preparing to terrorize offensive lines on a weekly basis.
OT Conor McDermott, UCLA. Sixth-Round, 211th overall pick (from Cowboys).
Another draft pick Bill Belichick managed to trade up in order to get, the New England Patriots selected their second lineman of the draft. Entrenched at 6’8, the Leaning Tower of McDermott doesn’t come with any bizarre habits like 2016’s sixth round pick Ted Karras, who chants like a Viking during pre-game warm-ups.
What McDermott does bring to the Patriots is experience in a pro-style offense and the type of mobility offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia hankers for. A former high school basketball player, Conor possesses uncommon athleticism for a 260-pound man. Spending time at Tight End throughout his career, Conor is an enticing draft prospect to land on a team that specializes in having some of the most creative trick plays in the NFL. Don’t be surprised if McDermott reports as an ‘eligible receiver’ in the years to come.
With the legendary Dante Scarnecchia as his positional coach, there will be plenty of opportunities for Conor McDermott to learn. His athleticism can easily be capitalized upon by developing better leverage and proper footwork.
However, possessing substantial athleticism doesn’t necessarily guarantee anybody a roster spot in the NFL. In order to succeed, McDermott will need to develop significantly better core strength. On the New England Patriots roster, he has the ability to succeed, but will need to spend ample amounts of time in the weight room.
Originally entering the Draft with 6 picks ranging from the third through seventh round, the New England Patriots finished with only 4 selections, taking 2 defensive ends and 2 offensive tackles. It was the smallest draft class of a Super Bowl winning team since the 1995 San Fransisco 49ers, who at the time traded their 1st, 3rd and 4th round selections to the Cleveland Browns.
The interesting bit about this factoid? New England’s very own Bill Belichick was the Browns’ head coach. The Patriots were also able to add 19 UDFAs after the draft finished, several of which could potentially make the final 53-man roster.