Traditionally, during the week following the draft, the New England Patriots present their highest draft pick to the media. Yesterday was that day, although the ceremony looked a bit different this year as the team brought out every member of its rather small 2017 draft class.
The four rookies shared the stage, with the highest selection – third round defensive edge Derek Rivers – later talking to reporters. Following the event, the Patriots’ official Twitter account posted a photo of Rivers inside the locker room as well as one of the rookies’ lockers.
The latter (tip of the hat to Patriots Inform’s Adam Bogdan), revealed the quartet’s jersey numbers:
DE Derek Rivers #95
OT Antonio Garcia: #63
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: #91
OT Conor McDermott: #67
As a new member of the Patriots’ edge rotation, Rivers will be asked to do what Chris Long did in 2016: Provide depth and pass rushing upside. It is only fitting therefore, that the Youngstown State product will wear Long’s old number 95. In the past, it has also been worn by defensive edges Chandler Jones (2012-2015), Mark Anderson (2011) and Tully Banta-Cain (2006; 2009-2010).
New England’s second selection, fellow third rounder Antonio Garcia, will wear 63 on his jersey – and become the first offensive tackle this century to wear it. Since 2000, number 63 has exclusively been worn by interior linemen: Joe Andruzzi (2000-2004), Dan Connolly (2008-2014) and Tre’ Jackson (2015-2016) were the last three players to don it.
Fourth rounder Deatrich Wise Jr., on the other hand, will wear a number carried by defensive linemen in the past: 91. Even though the last player to call it his own was a linebacker – Jamie Collins –, the three before that were all playing on the line: Myron Pryor (2009-2012), the late Marquise Hill (2004-2006) and Bobby Hamilton (2000-2003).
New England's final 2017 draft pick, UCLA's Conor McDermott, was assigned a number formerly worn by two franchise greats. Long-time centers Dan Koppen (2003-2011) and Bill Lenkaitis (1971-1981) have both worn number 67, as has guard Josh Kline (2013-2015), the last player to wear it.