“We kind of stayed and picked and picked Wise, a defensive end from Arkansas,” Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said after the draft. “A guy we spent a lot of time with, brought him in for a visit, worked him out, did some different things with him. He has some experience. He played in a good program. Coach [Bret] Bielema does an outstanding job, a lot of respect for his program and the players that they put out. Trey Flowers is a good example.”
The Patriots selected Trey Flowers out of Arkansas with a fourth round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and he became a key figure in the Patriots victory in Super Bowl LI. Wise was Flowers’ successor in the Arkansas defense and the two have a close friendship.
“It was a great relationship, an older brother-type relationship,” Wise said of Flowers. “He was a mentor to me throughout his last two years, my first two years. He taught me how to do certain things, taught me how to watch film, taught me how to play certain positions, and on top of all that just the mindset to play and the mindset you have to have to go into a game, go into a practice, go into life. I have a good relationship with Trey and looking forward to meeting up there and working with him.”
Flowers sent his congratulations to Wise after the draft.
If Wise can be anywhere close to the same player as Flowers, then the Patriots will have two franchise pass rushers on the roster. Wise believes that he offers similar versatility and length that drew the Patriots to Flowers- and also noted the comparisons between himself and Chandler Jones.
“My strength as a player is my versatility, my power and my football IQ,“ Wise said. “With those three things combined, [they] make me the player who I am today. Just the relentless mindset that I carry while having those three attributes [are] why [I am] who I am today.”
“I was also compared to [Chandler Jones] by a few people,” Wise added. “Similar body styles, similar play styles. We have long arms, we're real good with our first step, great coming around the edge rushing the passer. He's a relentless, aggressive player, and I model my game similar to his.”
Wise added that Arkansas played him both on the edge and inside of the defensive line, much like how the Patriots deployed Flowers in the second half of 2016. It certainly helps that both Wise and Flowers were coached by Arkansas DL coach Rory Segrest, who previously served in the same capacity for the Philadelphia Eagles under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.
“It was great,” Wise said about learning from Segrest. “I had chance to know what NFL coaching was like. He coached in the league for a few years and he knows what it takes to get to the league. He knows the ins and outs of it. Just to have an ex-coach coaching me was great. He taught me a lot of technique. Trey [Flowers] is very technical. For me to have three years with Coach Segrest, he taught me a lot about technique and things to be successful while playing D-line.”
Arkansas had hoped that Wise would be able to elevate his play after an outstanding 2015 campaign with 8 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 passes defended. However, a pair of injuries hampered Wise’s contributions throughout the season.
“I came into the season with a hand injury and then four or five weeks into the season, I had that shoulder injury,” Wise admit. “It was difficult. It was tough to play with those injuries, but I persevered through them and that's what happened.”
Wise saw his production fall to 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks and his draft stock stalled. In order to salvage his season, Wise made sure his presence was felt at the East-West Shrine Game when he was at his healthier.
“I told myself, since I'm healthy, I want to show the world, show the coaches, show people, when I'm healthy, that I can pretty much do my junior year and I'm still that same guy,” Wise said about the Shrine Game. “I wanted to show all my attributes. I wanted to show my speed, wanted to show my football IQ, wanted to show my versatility, my power and I believe that I did a real good job of doing that at the East-West Shrine Game.”
Wise collected 8 quarterback disruptions (2 sacks, a hit, and 5 hurries), along with 3 run stops in the Shrine Game, per ProFootballFocus, both the highest totals of any player in the event. His statement was made and the Patriots believe the Wise that starred in the Shrine Game is the player that will show up on Sundays in the NFL.