New England Patriots 2017 NFL Draft retrospective

New England Patriots, NFL Draft Retrospective

The New England Patriots didn’t pick until the third round, and the result was a lost draft class with very few positives.

The 2017 NFL Draft represented the smallest incoming pool of players for the New England Patriots in franchise history.

The Patriots sent their first and third-round selections that year to the New Orleans Saints to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks. That trade, along with a few other classic Bill Belichick wheelings-and-dealings, netted an end result of just four draft selections for the Patriots in 2017.

It’s important to remember New England was fresh off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, capturing its fifth Lombardi Trophy in dramatic fashion over the Atlanta Falcons. Incredibly, the only significant personnel loss they faced was the retirement of defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich.

Original grade

FanSided: A-

Overall, the first three of the Patriots’ four 2017 NFL Draft picks were great. McDermott may not make the team out of camp, unless the Patriots brass has tabbed him as a long-term project. The Patriots knew exactly what they were doing in the 2017 offseason. This foursome was clearly selected for a reason by New England. It’s hard to question the Patriots Way since New England wins so much.

Draft Class

Round 3 (No. 83)

1

Derek Rivers

DE Youngstown State

CURRENT TEAM: New England Patriots

Rivers was brought to New England specifically to replace Rob Ninkovich.

Ninkovich was a 6-foot-2, 260-pound edge rusher with impressive athletic ability and an even more impressive football IQ. Rivers was a 6-foot-5, 250-pound collegiate sack artist with all the talent and intangibles to carry on Ninko’s legacy.

The problem for Rivers has been staying healthy – he missed the entire 2017 and ’19 seasons due to injuries suffered in training camp and the preseason, respectively. He also played sparingly in 2018, appearing in just six regular season games and finding himself inactive for Super Bowl LIII.

To date, he has just one career sack and two career tackles in his NFL career.

Round 3 (No. 85)

2

Antonio Garcia

OT Troy

CURRENT TEAM: Free agent

Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots brain trust presumably had very high hopes for Antonio Garcia when they spent a third-round draft pick on the left tackle out of Troy.

Unfortunately for both Garcia and the Patriots, it was never meant to be. Similar to what happened with David Andrews last fall, Garcia developed blood clots in his lungs and had to sit out his entire rookie season. New England released him 13 months after it spent their 85th pick on him.

Round 4 (No.131)

3

Deatrich Wise Jr.

DE Arkansas

CURRENT TEAM: New England Patriots

Out of the four players the Patriots drafted in 2017, Deatrich Wise Jr. has by far made the greatest impact.

Wise has managed to stay healthy and active throughout most of his NFL career so far. He appeared in all 16 games for the Pats during his first two seasons, though he saw his playing time diminish a bit in 2019 thanks to the emergence of players like John Simon and rookie Chase Winovich. Overall, Wise is a valued contributor to this defense.

Round 6 (No. 211)

4

Conor McDermott

OT UCLA

CURRENT TEAM: New York Jets

The Patriots used their last pick on Conor McDermott, another left tackle prospect they figured might eventually grow into their Nate Solder replacement. It didn’t work out.

McDermott spent two seasons with the Buffalo Bills before getting waived last October and subsequently claimed by the New York Jets.

There’s no point in sugarcoating it – this draft class represents one of the worst in Belichick’s tenure as general manager of the Patriots.

Giving Belichick and the Pats a “D” grade for this draft class seems appropriate. Garcia and McDermott were obvious misfires, though it’s hard to knock New England for Rivers since his issues are entirely health-related – and he didn’t really have any injury concerns coming out of college. Wise also helps elevate this grade above an “F.”

Bottom Line

While there’s no denying the 2017 NFL Draft class was a forgettable one for the Patriots, it’s also important to consider this edition with some context.

New England actually would have had quite a few more draft picks to use if they hadn’t decided to trade most of them for veteran players from other clubs.

Cooks, in particular, should be considered an honorary member of this draft class. The Pats essentially spent first and third-rounders on him, and though he only stayed in New England for a year, he was fantastic for the team in 2017 (19 games including playoffs with 75 receptions for 1,237 yards and seven touchdowns total).

On the merits of the actual draft class alone though, this was definitely one of the weaker incoming groups in team history.

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