Well, here comes the shortest Patriots draft story ever. After an active off-season that saw New England bolster its roster before the draft, Bill Belichick didn’t have a ton of holes to fill going into last weekend. The team had traded their first-round pick to New Orleans for receiver Brandin Cooks and had swapped their second-rounder with Carolina for pass-rusher Kony Ealy and a third-rounder. They’d also obtained tight end Dwayne Allen and a sixth-rounder from the Colts for a fourth, and signed away running back Mike Gillislee from the Bills for a fifth.
This, of course, made the first two rounds of the NFL Draft pretty boring for Patriots watchers. I’d compare it to watching grass grow, but at least in that case you can a) see some kind of change, and b) get reminded of a wonderful, haunting Peter Gabriel video.
The Patriots got active later on Friday, picking up a couple of players in Round Three who could become a productive part of New England’s future. In all, the team drafted four players, the lowest amount not only in Belichick’s tenure but in franchise history.
For a look at the categories I missed before the draft (and with only four picks, there are quite a few), have a gander at my final pre-draft “That Guy” column. You know what? I’m not ashamed. Not all that proud, sure, but still: not ashamed.
By the way, that Peter Gabriel video is from 1992. The Patriots’ first draft selection was born two years after that. Just reading the previous sentence makes all my joints feel sore. Oof, my hip!
Here are New England’s 2017 draft picks, listed by round and overall number:
Round Three (83): DE Derek Rivers (6-4, 248), Youngstown State
Round Three (85): OT Antonio Garcia (6-6, 302), Troy
Round Four (131): DE Deatrich Wise (6-5, 274), Arkansas
Round Six (211): OT Conor McDermott (6-8, 307), UCLA
The Trades: Ah, yes. As with most years, Belichick and Co. had more moving picks than an NBA center. They opened Day Two with two selections in the third (72 and 96). First they moved back, giving up 72 for Tennessee’s third- (83) and fourth-rounder (124). After picking Rivers with 83, they moved back up to 85, giving Detroit a third (96) and their newly-obtained fourth (124). So, essentially, the Patriots swapped 72 and 96 for the 83rd and 85th selections.
Like most, I figured the Patriots would look for a Backup Tight End in the draft, and they did, sort of. On Day Three, they traded their fifth-rounder (183) to Kansas City for tight end James O’Shaughnessy and a sixth-rounder (216). To cap off the draft, New England moved up in the sixth by switching their slot (216) and throwing in their seventh-rounder (239) with Dallas’ sixth (211). They used that final pick on McDermott.
On to the picks and the New England draft tendencies they fit (sometimes):
The Long-Limbed Defensive End: Now referred to as the Trey Flowers category, Rivers will look to get into the pass-rushing rotation and – if all goes well – become a bigger part of the defense by his sophomore year, much like Flowers did. Rivers has great athleticism, as his 4.61-second 40, 30 bench reps, 35-inch vertical jump, and 6.94-second 3-cone time all made top five for defensive linemen at the NFL combine. At Youngstown State (which would have also qualified him for our Small-School Defender category), Rivers absolutely Godzilla’d the joint, making All-Missouri Valley First Team with 15 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, along with three fumble recoveries.
Fun Fact: The Youngstown State team nickname is the Penguins. They are the only four-year college in the country with that nickname. Check out mascots Pete and Penny!
Offensive Line Double-Dip Guys: New England drafted zero offensive linemen in 2013. Since then, they’ve taken no fewer than two per year, starting with Bryan Stork (Florida State) and Cameron Fleming (Stanford) in 2014. Garcia had a great senior year, making All-Sun Belt First Team while preventing any sacks against him personally on a line that allowed the fewest sacks in the country (nine). He had a notable performance against Clemson that included six knockdown blocks. Athletically, he has shown good speed (5.15 40) and quickness (7.70 3-cone), and his 31-inch vertical jump was the second-highest for offensive linemen at the combine. The latter half of the double dip, McDermott, has a few similar qualities to current Pats left tackle Nate Solder, who’s also 6-foot-8 and also a former tight end. McDermott ran a 5.18 40 and jumped 28.5 inches, the latter of which is a top-eight combine score. At UCLA, McDermott made All-Pac-12 Conference Second Team. Though both players are lighter at 302 and 307 pounds, respectively (yes, say hi to football and sumo wrestling, where over 300 pounds makes you “light”), they can use their rookie years to develop within New England’s system. Strong picks for the future.
Fun Facts: Garcia averaged 12 points per game and was named all region honorable mention as a basketball player at Charles R. Drew High in Riverdale, Georgia. McDermott averaged 15.2 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior at Ensworth High in Tennessee and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball in his division.
Fun, Kinda Freaky fact: McDermott has 11-inch hands. Go grab a ruler, put your hand at the base of it, and see how much bigger Fryin’ Pan Hands McDermott’s mitts are.
The Back-To-The-Well Guy: When the coach finds a player he likes and/or a college system he appreciates, he has a tendency to return to that school for the draft (think: Rutgers). With Flowers contributing at such a high level in 2016, the Wise pick is no surprise. He got a mention in our “That Guy” Senior Bowl column as a Long-Limbed Defensive End after standing out in the East-West Shrine Game (his 36-inch tentacles helped). Wise showed decent speed with a 4.92 40, a strong broad jump (10-foot-4) and a solid vertical (33 inches), but he stood out in the 3-cone with a 7.07-second time. A team captain at Arkansas, Wise had 49 tackles (5.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks. If he can go after the game with a similar approach to his former college teammate, he could develop into a strong, consistent contributor.
Fun Fact: Wise earned his district’s Defensive Player of the Year honors at Hebron High in Carrollton, Texas after racking up a whopping 113 tackles and 10 sacks.
Coming up later this week, an in-depth look at the many undrafted players New England will bring in to camp. Is it odd that I’m excited about this? Maybe a little, right?
Thanks for reading, and see you soon.
Chris Warner still gets a little freaked out by the “Shock the Monkey” video. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweeted at @cwarn89.