BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots made just four selections in the 2017 NFL Draft, a record low for the franchise.
But even with just those four picks, the Patriots addressed their two biggest areas of need on the roster: defensive end and offensive tackle.
New England started the draft with just six picks after a slew of offseason moves by Bill Belichick. They were without a first or second-round pick after trading for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive end Kony Ealy earlier this offseason, and they also gave up a fifth-round pick for restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee and a sixth-round pick for tight end Dwayne Allen. They were also without their highest fourth-round pick, acquired in the Cooks trade, to fulfill their DeflateGate punishment.
Belichick made even more swaps when the draft got underway, as he’s become known to do, making a pair of trades on both Friday and Saturday. After moving up and down the draft board on Friday night, the Patriots sent a fifth-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs to acquire another tight end in James O’Shaughnessy before Saturday’s action began. O’Shaughnessy had eight career catches in 23 games over the last two seasons for Kansas City, spending most of his time on special teams.
The Patriots were slated to make their first pick of the draft at No. 72, but traded back to the 83rd pick and took Youngstown State edge rusher Derek Rivers. An explosive pass rusher at 6-foot-5 and 229 pounds, Rivers looks like he’ll be a much-needed injection of youth along the edge of the New England line. He’s considered a steal as a mid third-round pick.
[graphiq id=”gjREw3s9urb” title=”Derek Rivers Defensive Highlights (2016)” width=”600″ height=”464″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/gjREw3s9urb” ]
He’ll have company as a rookie along the defensive line too, as the Pats drafted Deatrick Wise Jr., a big and versatile end out of Arkansas, with the 131st overall pick on Saturday.
[graphiq id=”ccmttaZS3TD” title=”Deatrich Wise Jr. Tackles, Sacks and Hits (2016)” width=”600″ height=”526″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/ccmttaZS3TD” ]
After adding Rivers on Friday night, Belichick didn’t wait long to make his next pick, trading up to nab Troy left tackle Antonio Garcia at No. 85. He too could be a steal where the Patriots got him, and again, addressed an area of need on the depth chart. The Pats also traded up on Saturday afternoon to add another promising offensive lineman, sending their final two picks of the draft to Dallas in order to grab UCLA offensive tackle Conor McDermott at No. 211. He’s a behemoth at 6-foot-8 and 308 pounds, and if the current players on the roster remain healthy, McDermott will have time to develop under one of the best offensive line coaches in the league in Dante Scarnecchia.
The Patriots now have 70 players on their roster after adding those four picks and O’Shaughnessy over the weekend, so they have 20 spots to fill via free agency, whether they’re undrafted free agents or veterans still looking for a job.
While they didn’t draft many players, Belichick and the Patriots still addressed the holes on the roster (if you can really call them “holes” on a stacked New England team). We’ll see how these four young players develop, but in entering the draft with just six picks, and only actually using a quartet of them, it looks like the Patriots did a solid job filling up the depth chart where it needed it most.