The New England Patriots did really well with what they had to work with in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The New England Patriots willingly traded away a majority of their 2017 NFL Draft capital well before the draft. We knew that they would not be in a position to add a ton of impact talent to their roster in this process. That being said, the entire weekend was a success for Bill Belichick and company, as they did about as well as we ever could have expected.
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After trades with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, the New England Patriots did not have a selection until the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Even when they went on the clock in the early third round, Belichick traded down to add more picks to use later.
A Fantastic Pair of Third-Round Picks
The Patriots finally made a selection with the 83rd overall pick, taking Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers. Finding a pass rushing defensive end was the Patriots’ biggest need heading into the draft and in Rivers, they found a good one.
Rivers shows a great burst off of the line of scrimmage and dominated his level of competition in college. He was considered by most to be a second-round talent. The Patriots filling their biggest need with a second-round player in the middle of the third round was an ideal situation to kick off their draft.
Just two picks later, the Patriots used their draft capital from their trade down to trade up for offensive tackle Antonio Garcia. Garcia is a bit raw as a prospect, but he is one of the best pass blockers in the entire draft class. He will sit and grow in 2017 but he is a real threat to take over for Nate Solder at left tackle in 2018.
In a weak offensive tackle class, Garcia was expected to go sooner than the 85th overall pick. Another strong value selection here.
More Help at Their Biggest Needs
After a strong showing in the third round, the Patriots had to wait until the late fourth round to make their next selection. With the 131st overall pick, the New England Patriots added another talented edge defender to the mix.
Deatrich Wise is a 6-5, 274-pound defensive end who shows nice upside at the next level. Wise flashed incredible ability at times in college, but was far too inconsistent. Can the Patriots’ coaching staff get more out of him like they have done with many defensive players in the past? He is a powerful player who shows good quickness and explosion off of the snap. He also provides great versatility, being able to play both inside and outside.
The Patriots doubling-up on their biggest need with the selections of Rivers and now Wise was a brilliant move. With Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Kony Ealy, Rivers and now Wise in the mix, the Patriots are set with a nice group of edge rushers.
With their fourth and final selection, the New England Patriots traded up a handful of picks in the sixth round to get their guy. Prior to the 2016 season, Conor McDermott of UCLA was considered a possible first-round offensive tackle in this draft class. However, after a poor senior season, McDermott fell hard down the draft board.
He is an athletic offensive tackle with a true left tackle profile at the next level. McDermott moves extremely well for a 6-8, 307-pound man, but lacks functional strength to be a legitimate starter right now. The Patriots will get McDermott in the weight room and immediately start working with offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia. It may be a year or so before we see him on the field but McDermott has true left tackle upside at the next level.
When you look at that haul as a whole, I think it is fair to say that the New England Patriots knocked the 2017 NFL Draft out of the park. Even when you just look at their four draft picks, the Patriots did a very nice job of filling their two biggest short and long-term needs with talented players.