By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots had to wait to make their first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, and then they waited some more.
But in the end, they walked away with a pair of new players who address the biggest needs on their roster (not that the defending champs have many actual needs).
The Patriots didn’t pick until the third round of the draft, entering the evening with picks No. 72 and No. 96. Bill Belichick traded both, and also traded a pick he acquired in a trade. Does it get any more Belichick than that?
Belichick swapped the 72nd and 200th pick (sixth round) with the Tennessee Titans for the 83rd and 124th overall picks. He finally made his first pick of the draft at No. 83, selecting defensive end Derek Rivers out of Youngstown State. An edge rusher was one of New England’s only real need heading into the draft, and it appears Belichick got a pretty good one.
The 6-foot-4, 248 pound Rivers holds the Youngstown State’s sack record, getting to the quarterback 41 times in his three years as a Penguin. He had 15 sacks as a senior to go with 58 total tackles, including 19.5 for a loss.
“[He] played competitively in the all-star games and in a good program there with Coach [Bo] Pelini who we know very well. Bo does a great job with his players and his team,” Belichick said of Rivers. “Derek’s been in a good system, has been well-coached. Even though he’s from a smaller school we’ll see what he can do for himself here, as well, when all is said and done.”
Belichick didn’t want to wait around much longer to make his second pick of the draft, swinging a trade with the Detroit Lions for the 85th overall pick. He used that selection to take offensive tackle Antonio Garcia out of Troy, adding some depth to New England’s offensive line. Garcia stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs in at 302 pounds, and is seen as a bit of a project pick, but he’ll be in good hands with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia in New England.
“He’s got the length and athleticism to play tackle, we’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said of Garcia.
Garcia gives New England a young left tackle to mold with Nate Solder a free agent after next season.
In return for the 85th pick, Belichick sent the 96th and 124th pick to Detroit.
The Patriots now have three remaining picks in the 2017 Draft on Saturday: Nos. 131, 183 and 239.