Of the four selections the New England Patriots made in the 2017 NFL draft, only one found itself on the opening day roster – one was let go, two others were forced to sit out the season due to medical reasons. Among the latter group was defensive edge Derek Rivers, who the Patriots chose with their highest selection last year (pick number 83, third round).
After a promising start to his first training camp in the NFL, the rookie tore his ACL during joint practices with the Houston Texans. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve and forces to spend his first year in the league doing rehab work. According to ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, however, the 23-year old is on schedule to be ready for year number two:
From the football side: DE Derek Rivers continues to progress from torn ACL last August. No setbacks. While he could be brought along cautiously in offseason program, the target of being ready for the 2018 season looks promising.
Before his injury, Rivers was projected to play a key role along the Patriots' defensive edge last season. With him out for the year, the team was forced to turn to fellow rookie Deatrich Wise Jr. as well as mid-season pickups like Eric Lee and James Harrison – and the results, despite some promising performances by Wise Jr., were inconsistent. Getting Rivers back should therefore be an added boost to New England's defense.
With the Youngstown State product on his way back, the team would field a defensive edge depth chart consisting of Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Rivers. Not exactly an angst-inducting group but one that has plenty of upside against the pass and the run – not to forget that a potential draft pick might also join a quartet that is certainly a better one with Rivers a part of it.