By Brent Schwartz, CBS Boston Sports
BOSTON (CBS) — With the Patriots’ second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, the team chose to add depth along the offensive line by selecting Troy tackle Antonio Garcia with the 85th overall pick in the third round. The pick was made just two selections after the team nabbed Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers.
Garcia attended Charles Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia. There he became the first athlete from the school to be selected as first team all-state.
At Troy, Garcia endured a successful campaign that saw him allow zero sacks in over 900 snaps during his senior season. Garcia was the best on an offensive line that allowed just 9 sacks in 2016, which was best in the nation.
- 2016 All-Sun Belt First Team
- 2015 All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention
NFL Combine Results
- 5.15 40-yard dash
- Bench press (225 pounds)- 24 reps
- Vertical jump- 31 inches
- 3-cone drill- 7.98 seconds
- Broad jump- 108 inches
Strengths and Weaknesses
Standing at 6-foot-6 and 302 pounds, Garcia is surprisingly athletic, showing good lateral quickness to block incoming pass rushers, according to hisNFL.com Draft Profile. Therefore, Garcia is rarely beaten around the edge by defenders. His quickness also gives him the ability to move back inside to help with run-blocking.
His draft profile does criticize his lower body strength, and his ability to get lower when embracing some contact. Scouts say he has a “stringy” frame, and that he needs to bulk up.
What to expect from Rivers with the Patriots?
Considering how high he was drafted, Garcia is a virtual lock to make the Patriots roster. As for playing time, that will be up in the air, but expect Garcia to at least see the field sparingly, if not regularly, depending on the health of the offensive line, or the Patriots’ usage of lineman-heavy formations.
With the recent retirement of Sebastian Vollmer, Garcia should be next in line after starters Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. After receiving criticism for his play in 2015, Cannon had a monster year in 2016, being named to the NFL All-Pro second team. Cannon also received a five-year extension during the season.
However, Solder is heading into the final year of his contract, and could leave after 2017, meaning Garcia may have been drafted as insurance for that scenario. Regardless, Garcia may see action as the team’s third tackle in those run-heavy sets, much like Cameron Fleming has in his role. Brady likes to run play-action out of those formations, and Garcia could be utilized for his quickness as an extra blocker to help defend the Von Millers of the league from sacking the soon-to-be 40-year-old Tom Brady.
Garcia may even see time just spelling Solder and Cannon, giving them a rest from time to time.
Either way, it seems as if Garcia may be taking the old role Cannon used to fill, which was being the team’s top backup tackle. Garcia should expect ample chances to see playing time, gaining experience with the possibility to eventually take a starting role.