The New England Patriots made an NFL-low four selections during last year’s draft and only on of those – defensive edge Deatrich Wise Jr. – actually found its way onto the team’s opening 53-man roster. Fast forward to the 2018 training camp: Wise Jr. is one of the most active players on the Patriots’ defense, while fellow second-year man Derek Rivers is seeing regular time with the top unit one year removed from season-ending knee injury.
At this point in time, things are looking good for the remaining two players of New England’s 2017 draft class – and Bill Belichick apparently sees it the same way. Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Moving The Chains, the Patriots’ head coach spoke about a variety of training camp-related topics and also mentioned the two youngsters in a rather optimistically sounding tone.
“Nobody works harder than Deatrich and Derek,” Belichick told hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan during the seven-minute segment. While it is classic coach-speak, it still reflects how highly Belichick thinks of the pass rushing duo and its potential. “Those two kids are here all the time. They’re the first ones in and the last ones out. They’re extremely diligent, hard workers in the weight room, in the classroom, on the field.”
“I think they’ll both make a good jump this year,” Belichick continued praising two players that enter 2018 coming off drastically different rookie campaigns: Rivers, as noted above, missed all of last year after suffering a torn ACL during joint practices with the Houston Texans. Wise Jr., meanwhile, appeared in all 19 of the Patriots’ contests and finished the year second on the team with 34 quarterback disruptions – among them 7.0 sacks.
“Derek didn’t get an opportunity to do much last year; Deatrich got some playing time,” Belichick said about the two 2017 mid-round selections. “I think both of them will build on their experience as a rookie and have more productive years this year. They’re certainly off to a good start.” New England, which struggled last season at both generating regular pressure and setting the edge in the ground game, certainly has to hope that both continue their development over the next few weeks – and stay healthy in the process.