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New England Patriots 2017 NFL Draft Recap

Hello defending champions,

The New England Patriots are coming off another Super Bowl victory and a record setting five Lombardi trophies for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, most by any player and/or coach. The Patriots continue their dominance not only in the AFC East, but in the AFC as a whole. The scary thing is they only got better this off-season. They traded their first round pick for stud receiver Brandin Cooks, they brought in a top cornerback to pair up with Malcolm Butler in Stephon Gilmore from division rival the Buffalo Bills along with bringing in some other good quality pieces to both side of the ball. If the Patriots have any sort of weakness it’s their offensive line, but with Tom Brady at the helm he makes it less noticeable and not as big of a problem as it would typically be. The Patriots didn’t have many draft selections, a league low four picks, however they don’t need to bring in a lot of prospects via the draft because they have a plethora of talented players on the roster. Coach Belichick brought in a lot of rookie free agents as well to bring in for competition as well as their “draft selections”. We’ll see what the future brings for the young rookies on this team, but as far as the four drafted players selected, they’ll be the first to show what they can add to the team. Let’s break them down.

-3rd Round, Pick #83: Derek Rivers – Defensive End (Youngstown State)

  • Derek Rivers was well on his way to earning meaningful snaps in the regular season before tearing his ACL, a season ending injury, in pre-season. Rivers looked quite impressive in training camp and the off-season work-outs. It’s always sad to see any player go down with an injury like this before the season even starts, but for rookies it’s so much more devastating. Work so hard just to get into the NFL and your first year is halted by an injury. I hope Derek Rivers comes back strong from this next season.

-3rd Round, Pick #85: Antonio Garcia – Offensive Tackle (Troy)

  • One of the New England Patriots weaknesses is their sketchy offensive line. It may be hard to see sometimes, but Tom Brady does an excellent job at making his blockers look better than what they really are. Antonio Garcia was pretty much a four year starter at left tackle while enrolled at Troy. Garcia is big, athletic and has a lot of good traits to work with. Nate Solder is the current starter for the Patriots and Garcia will have a hard time jumping him on the depth chart, but with solid consistent play he can earn his way into the back-up role or maybe even a shot at guard. Coach Belichick is a great coach and can get the best out of his players. Garcia was a nice addition and he’ll find a way onto the field this year.

-4th Round, Pick #131: Deatrich Wise – Defensive End (Arkansas)

  • With the injury to Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise will see more playing time this season. Wise is a pure pass rush specialist and that is the other weakness the Patriots have, a lacking pass rush. With the Patriots losing players like Chris Long, Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard this past off-season, they team needed to bring in some pass rushers. With two of the team’s four selections they go with a pass rusher to try and get younger at the position and develop them to be the future studs for the franchise. Wise has a high motor and never gives up on a play. Rookie or not, he should see plenty of work this season getting after the quarterback.

-6th Round, Pick #211: Conor McDermott – Offensive Tackle (UCLA)

  • Half of the picks were pass rushers, the other half offensive linemen. What’s not to like about a 6’8″ tall tackle? Oh, and let’s not forget that he’s just north of 300 lbs either. Being a sixth rounder he probably isn’t expected to do too much this season, but the team clearly has a plan for this prospect. You simply just don’t use one of your four selections on a player just for training camp or pre-season games. McDermott is a raw prospect that just needs coaching, but he will be a part of a plan and we’ll see more of him in the future.

The New England Patriots may have only had four draft selections, but they are still primed for a deep playoff run this season. The rest of their division has questions written all over it. I expect the Patriots to cake-walk into post-season play yet again and more than likely get a first round bye. There are probably only two teams in the AFC that’ll be able to stop the Patriots from back-to-back appearances to the Super Bowl. We’ll see how it works out for Belichick and the Patriots this season, but until then, have a great day!

-Austin Thomas

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