By Aaron Jackson
After months of speculation on trades involving Malcolm Butler and Jimmy Garoppolo, this year’s NFL draft was a bit of a snooze fest for the New England Patriots. But that doesn’t mean the players they took will be. Here’s an inside look at the players taken by Bill Belichick and company.
#1. Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State: First off, I had forgotten that Youngstown’s mascot was a penguin, which is amazing. Rivers play on the field was pretty darn good too. This past season saw him have at least one sack in 11 of his 15 games played, including one in the FCS title game, which the Penguins lost to James Madison. Clearly he was a consistently good pass rusher in college, what remains to be seen is how that translates into the NFL. Scouts say he is a little undersized, especially when it comes to overall length.
#2. Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy: Hard to believe that scouts can say this about a guy that is over 300 pounds, but he’s described as having a small frame and being “stringy”. A lot of scouts suggest his body type fits more the mold of a defensive end than an offensive lineman, but in a sport that is continuing to become faster I feel like that is a good thing, not a bad thing. The Patriots traded a few other picks to move up to get this guy, which brings me back to this story from former New England executive Michael Lombardi. Essentially, the Pats really wanted a center named Mitch Morse. Mock drafts had him going in the 3rd round, so they waited to take him until the second, but Kansas City then swooped in and stole him first. He’s gone on to be a starter as a rookie and a pro bowler ever since. I’d say the Pats didn’t want that to happen again.
#3. Deatrich Wise, DE, Arkansas: Wise is a former teammate of current Patriot defensive end Trey Flowers, so they probably have a little extra insight into who he is as a person and a player. Wise is considered very talented but inconsistent. His father also played in the NFL for both the Seahawks and the Saints. He clearly has a lot of talent as most analysts had him as a first round pick going into last year’s draft.
#4. Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA: New England has made it pretty clear they wanted some upgrades to their line play, and they wanted them cheap. McDermott will likely fit that mold, and is a multi-sport athlete, something Belichick likes to see. In high school he was named Mr Basketball for the state of Tennessee, and has also played some tight end in his career. At 6’8” he could make for an interesting red zone target down the road. His brother Kevin currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings as a long snapper.
#5. Cody and Jacob Hollister, WR and TE, Wyoming and Arkansas: While there are no more draft picks, there are a ton of free agent signings worth noting. I’m going with these two just because the story is unique; twin brothers both signing with the same NFL team. Both have to be considered long shots to crack the active roster given their positions, but both are also considered to be guys that will stick in the league for a long time because of their maturity and skill level.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.