The New England Patriots have made just two selections in the 2017 NFL Draft: EDGE Derek Rivers and OT Antonio Garcia. While both are solid prospects, the Patriots have added far fewer players than some other teams. For comparison, the Ravens, Broncos, Steelers, and Titans have drafted twice as many players as the Patriots. The Seahawks have drafted six players.
But Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wants you to take a step back an give full credit to his perceived 2017 draft class:
1. WR Brandin Cooks
2. EDGE Kony Ealy
3a. EDGE Derek Rivers
3b. OT Antonio Garcia
4a. 131st overall (TBD)
4b. TE Dwayne Allen
5a. RB Mike Gillislee
5b. 183rd overall (TBD)
7. 239th overall (TBD)
“We’ve been watching a lot of picks go by, but I feel like overall our opportunity in this draft started a couple of months ago,” Belichick explained after the completion of day two. “The four players that we acquired already are also part of the draft process.”
Belichick is referring to Cooks, Ealy, Allen, and Gillislee, and when you look at the talent the Patriots have acquired, it’s hard to say that any other team had a more successful first few rounds in the draft.
As for the players the Patriots actually selected on Friday, Belichick noted that the Patriots “ended up taking two players, one on each side of the ball,” and declined to answer when asked if the team ever wanted to trade into the first or second round.
In order to acquire those two players, the Patriots needed to wheel and deal around the third round, and Belichick found willing trade partners in his former associates that are now general managers across the league.
Belichick traded with former Patriots director of college scouting and current Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson to package the 72nd and 200th overall picks in exchange for the 83rd and 124th overall picks. The Patriots used that 83rd pick on Rivers.
Belichick then traded with former Patriots director of pro scouting and current Detroit Lions GM Bob Quinn to package the 96th and recently acquired 124th overall picks to move up for the 85th overall pick. The Patriot used that 85th pick on Garcia.
Having relationships with Robinson and Quinn “really makes [negotiations] go a lot quicker; no question,” Belichick stated. “That certainly makes it go a lot quicker. [They’re] both great to deal with.”
The Patriots won’t have as much freedom to move around the draft board on Saturday because the team has just three remaining draft picks (131, 183, 239), but Belichick believes he can make the most of his lottery tickets.
“We’ll try to take advantage of our opportunities,” Belichick said, “however those come up at that time.”