ESPN’s Mike Sando spoke with “four NFL personnel evaluators for their favorite steals in each of the seven rounds” of the 2017 NFL Draft and the New England Patriots claimed the steal of the third round in EDGE Derek Rivers.
"I figured Rivers would go in the second or third round," one of the evaluators told Sando. "He is a perfect fit for the Patriots' defense."
Rivers played at Youngstown State in a small school FCS program, but was coached by former Patriots LB coach Bo Pelini. He is expected to immediately play a part in the Patriots edge defender rotation with Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Kony Ealy, and fellow rookie Deatrich Wise.
The Patriots only made four picks in the draft, so adding a “steal” with their very first pick certainly helps to boost the value of the draft class. The Patriots traded down from the 64th overall pick to the 72nd overall pick to add Ealy from the Carolina Panthers, with the understanding that the caliber of players available at 72nd would be similar to the players available at 64th.
It turns out that the Patriots were able to trade down again and get a player at 83rd overall that some evaluators considered to have similar value to those taken at 64th. That certainly counts as a steal.