New England Patriots Draft Grades
Bill Belichick - Head Coach, New England Patriots

Oops, they did it again. The New England Patriots proved they did not need a first or even a second-round pick to enjoy a successful draft class. The Patriots and Bill Belichick make it look like child’s play. Contrary to the belief of some. It’s not about the picks you have – it’s about how you use them when they are at your disposal.

“You know what. When you win your fifth Super Bowl with Tom Brady as your quarterback, you’ve earned the right to take it easy in the 2017 NFL Draft. The New England Patriots largely punted this weekend’s draft, but still found a few decent picks in the middle rounds,” writes John Buhler of

Maybe he should take another look at how the Patriots look at the Draft. This was a rare season where the team went out and signed big name free agents. This is one of those years where they used their first-round pick to acquire a solid wide receiver. The team used its second-round pick to bring in defensive end Kony Ealy, who should help the pass rush.

It’s not about punting anything, it’s about strategy – the kind that still makes Brady, Belichick and the rest of the organization the favorite to earn a sixth Super Bowl ring.

And until some other team figures out how to shut the Patriots’ machine down, it will continue until Brady and Belichick ride off into the sunset.

The New England Patriots didn’t pick until No. 83 in the third round and only made four picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Here’s a look at how they drafted and analysis of their overall draft class.

Round 3, Pick 83 – Derek Rivers, Defensive End, Youngstown State

The rich get richer. Rivers was a second or third round draft pick who will be asked to come in and play within the rotation. At 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds, he is the perfect fit for what the Patriots do in their pass rushing sets. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has to be pleased to get this kind of value this late in the process.

According to Mike Mayock of, “Derek Rivers can get to the quarterback. I thought he was best suited to play 3-4 outside linebacker. What coach Bill Belichick likes is versatility in players. He can stand up off the ball as an inside linebacker and in sub-packages kick down.”

Round 3, Pick 85 – Antonio Garcia, Tackle, Troy

There is extraordinary value here. I have thought all along Garcia would be a “steal” if he fell to the third round. His versatility makes him a solid fit for what the Patriots do in their blocking schemes. While he did not play against top competition in college, Garcia did show he could hold his own in the Senior Bowl against top-school opponents.

There is a thought because of his ability, maybe he moves inside as well. At 6-foot-6 and 302, there is a chance he could also add some weight to handle quick defensive ends or thick tackles in the middle of the line. The only thing I see wrong with his work is he needs to get better at using his hands while in pass protection.

Round 4, Pick 131 – Deatrich Wise Jr., Defensive End, Arkansas

Per, Bill Belichick loves versatility on his defense and Wise brings that to the defensive line. He has some upside as a low-end starter and should find his way into the rotation early in his career. He has a nice move off the ball but still needs to work a bit on the next level. I like his agility. The 6-foot-5 frame and the 278 pounds he carries will help him get around larger offensive tackles.

I think Wise makes his way into the rotation on a permanent basis by midseason. He is one of those guys who may not have been a star in college but could be a solid player on the next level. This is one of those Belichick picks that always pans out.

Round 6, Pick 211 – Conor McDermott, Tackle, UCLA

Tall at 6-foot-8 and very mobile. The Patriots have a knack for taking late-round draft picks and turning them into Pro Bowl-type players. I am not saying McDermott will turn out to be Tony Boselli, but he could be a 10-year veteran with plenty of upside.

If he isn’t a starter on this team, McDermott will certainly be a heavy contributor as a reserve. One of my only concerns is his weight. He seems a bit thin for his size. But that is nothing getting in the weight room won’t fix.

Analysis: What’s not to like? The Patriots did not have many glaring weaknesses and some could argue even with free agent losses, they helped themselves through free agency and the Draft. For now, they are still the best team in the NFL until some organization takes away their title.

Year after year, the New England Patriots get it right. It doesn’t look pretty, but it sure is effective.

Grade: A-



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