Linebacker was a lesser need because the talent in the draft didn’t align with what the Patriots were looking for on the roster, while positions like tight end, interior offensive line, and strong safety were looking for players to upgrade the back-end of the depth chart.
These needs definitely affected how people graded the Patriots draft because New England decided to double dip on the first two needs and ignore the other four. I understand the reasoning, too- why use a draft pick on a linebacker if that player isn’t any better than Elandon Roberts or Jonathan Freeny? All of the linebackers and safeties that the Patriots could have used were gone in the first two rounds.
Overall, the Patriots added a pair of edge defenders and a pair of offensive tackles with high upside that can fit the Patriots roster. Here are your grades.
83rd overall: Youngstown EDGE Derek Rivers
Pulpit Grade: 3.5/4.0 (A-/B+)
Rivers was a possible second round pick, so the Patriots were thrilled to get him in the middle of the third round. The small school prospect is a great athlete that dominated his lesser competition and should slide nicely into the defensive line rotation.
85th overall: Troy OT Antonio Garcia
Pulpit Grade: 3.6/4.0 (A-/B+)
Garcia is another small school prospect, but it was a small surprise to see Garcia still on the board because of the shallow depth at the offensive tackle position in this draft and the premium nature of the role. Garcia is a high-upside player, just like Rivers, that could ultimately replace Solder moving forward. There’s also a small chance he could move inside and play guard.
131st overall: Arkansas EDGE Deatrich Wise Jr.
Pulpit Grade: 3.0/4.0 (B)
Wise received a much lower grade than Rivers because they both play on the edge. I believe that the Wise selection shows that Kony Ealy is nothing but a one-year rental and that Rob Ninkovich’s time is coming towards an end- and so Wise was added with 2018 in mind.
211th overall: UCLA OT Conor McDermott
Pulpit Grade: 2.7/4.0 (B-)
McDermott was a first round prospect entering the 2016 college football season, but allowed 11 combined sacks, hits, and pressure to Texas A&M EDGE Myles Garrett in the season opener and his draft perception never recovered. I wouldn’t be surprised if McDermott came down with a case of the “Foxboro Flu”, had a season in the Patriots strength & conditioning program, and came back ready to compete in 2018 once Fleming and Waddle are both gone.
The Patriots entire draft class also has to include the likes of WR Brandin Cooks, EDGE Kony Ealy, TE Dwayne Allen, RB Mike Gillislee, TE James O’Shaughnessy, LB Kyle Van Noy, and TE Michael Williams because they were all acquired by using 2017 draft picks. When you think of it that way, the Patriots absolutely addressed the holes at tight end and linebacker.
But not every grades the draft in the same way. The Patriots addressed their two biggest needs using just four draft picks. Is that enough to call the weekend a win?
Let’s hear your thoughts.
How would you grade the Patriots entire 2017 NFL Draft?
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