By MyFM's Jake Archer - The NFL Draft is always a bit of a letdown for Patriots fans because the team is perennially good and thus tends to have lower draft picks. The team also rarely goes after any of the big name guys out there and usually takes some player you’ve never heard of or don’t know a lot about. Yes, this strategy seems to work rather well because the Patriots are winning all the time, but it still results in Patriots fans largely ignoring this rather big event on the NFL Calendar.
This year, the Patriots would need to make some big splashy trades to really garner much attention because they were short on draft picks due to trades and a DeflateGate penalty. The team actually only made four selections over the course of a few days which is the smallest draft class in franchise history. However, the Pats did make a point to remind fans what their draft picks did for them by posting a picture of all the players acquired using their picks on their social media accounts. This included the additions of Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dwayne Allen, Mike Gillislee and James O’Shaughnessy.
I want to quickly break down the four players that the Patriots drafted and see what the feeling is on how the team did overall. The Pats have also signed some undrafted free agents, but I’ll leave that for another day. Without further ado, here are the guys the team picked up during the NFL Draft.
Round 3, #83 overall: Linebacker Derek Rivers
Some had a first round grade on Rivers, and the Pats picked him up in the third. The product of Youngstown State is a great pass rusher with immense strength and good speed. He’ll likely play more of a defensive end role and could be used right away in sub-packages. He may see time at linebacker as well and will likely contribute on special teams from the jump. Despite being from an FCS school, Rivers handled tough competition well at the Senior Bowl.
Round 3, #85 overall: Offensive Tackle Antonio Garcia
This was a much-needed position for the Pats and they showed that by trading up to draft Garcia at #85. He comes from Troy, so he’s another guy from a small school but the Pats liked what they say in his Senior Bowl performance. He’s a long, athletic guy with a physical style of play. It’s likely that he’ll be the eventual replacement for Nate Solder, who is going into the final year of his deal with the Patriots.
Round 4, #131 overall: Defensive End Deatrich Wise
I definitely saw this name being floated around a lot in connection with the Patriots and that idea proved to come true as the Pats snagged him in the fourth round. Defensive end is a key position of need for this team and Wise fits the bill of well. He’s a long and powerful player who was a team captain at Arkansas. He’ll likely contribute on the defensive line early and also on field goal block because of his measurables. Wise has an injury history, but if he pans out he could be a very valuable pick for the Patriots.
Round 6, #211 overall: Offensive Tackle Connor McDermott
This kid was probably best known to me for being the best friend of UCLA quarterback and top prospect for 2018, Josh Rosen. But McDermott is his own guy and he’ll show that here in New England quickly. The team traded up to get the long, athletic tackle and clearly see this as a position of need in the future as well. It’s likely that he’ll be more a developmental player, but it’ll be interesting to see how he fares.
Overall Analysis: No one really “wins” the draft because we don’t know what these young prospects are going to turn into in the NFL. But, if anyone did win the draft it would be the New England Patriots. They got five proven players who will play key roles next year by using draft picks as trade bait, so they definitely made out well. As far as the players they did select out of college, it’s pretty easy to see what the thinking was.
The Patriots know they have two main positions that needed addressing and they doubled down on both of them. This way if one prospect doesn’t pan out, hopefully the other will and they’ll come away with a useful guy for the upcoming championship runs.