New England Patriots' 2017 draft class: Kiper's grades, McShay's best pick, more
NFL Draft Insiders
Posted: 2017-05-01

The 2017 NFL draft is over, and it's time to review how your favorite team fared. Where did it reach? Did it get a potential steal in Round 5? Is there a bust waiting to happen?

ESPN Insider's draft experts break down each draft class, starting with Mel Kiper Jr.'s grade, Todd McShay's favorite pick, and Scouts Inc.'s analysis on how each player fits into his new team.



New England Patriots

Mel Kiper's Draft Grade: A

Kiper: The reason the Patriots' grade is so high with no first- or second-round picks? You have to remember that Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy are essentially those picks, and New England knows exactly what it's getting in both. Cooks is a devastating big-play threat who has caught 315 passes in three seasons in the league. Ealy will likely start at defensive end in New England's 3-4. The questions there are the contracts. Cooks could be looking at a mega-deal after 2018, and Ealy is a free agent after this season. New England also got Dwayne Allen, plus a sixth from the Colts for a fourth, and surrendered its fifth-round pick for Mike Gillislee. All should contribute to a team looking to defend a Super Bowl title.

Now, on to what New England got this weekend, including two guys who were higher on my board than where the Patriots picked, and at need positions. Derek Rivers is a workout freak and ferocious pass-rusher who had 41 career sacks at Youngstown State. He would have been a contributor if he had played at Ohio State. Antonio Garcia required giving up their fourth-round pick in a trade up 11 spots, but he's a natural left tackle who started 42 collegiate games. He was my fifth-ranked tackle. If he's the Patriots' swing tackle backing up both Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, that's an improvement. Deatrich Wise Jr., a versatile edge defender, continues the Patriots' Arkansas pipeline.

ROUND/PICK NAME POS COLLEGE
3/83 Derek Rivers OLB YOUNGSTOWN STATE
3/85 Antonio Garcia OT TROY
4/131 Deatrich Wise Jr. DE ARKANSAS
6/211 Conor McDermott OT UCLA



Todd McShay's favorite pick

Derek Rivers, OLB, Youngstown State (pick No. 83)

The Patriots had only four draft picks but don't forget, they traded picks to get veterans like WR Brandin Cooks, pass-rusher Kony Ealy and TE Dwayne Allen. After trading away Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins in a matter of seven months last year, outside linebacker was easily the Patriots' biggest need entering the draft. Rivers is a perfect fit for the Patriots' culture: He has no off-field baggage, loves the game and is a vocal leader in the locker room. He comes with loads of athletic upside, too, after dominating small-school competition (52 tackles for loss, 38 sacks) and putting on a show at the NFL combine (top-five results among D-linemen in the 40, bench press, vertical jump and 3-cone). Rivers gives the Patriots a much-needed infusion of youth at outside linebacker as Rob Ninkovich enters the final year of his contract.

Scouts Inc. on 2017 class

3 (19) Derek Rivers, OLB, Youngstown State | Highlights

What he brings: Rivers dominated the level of competition he faced at Youngstown. He also eased concerns about that competition and his ability to move to a 3-4 scheme by finishing in the top five for defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, vertical jump and bench press at the combine. -- Steve Muench

How he fits: This is a pure value pick for the Patriots, who continue to infuse a strong defense with another versatile edge defender in the front seven. -- Kevin Weidl



3 (21) Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy | Highlights

What he brings: Garcia has less than ideal arm length for an offensive tackle, but he makes up for it with quick feet, good balance and shows a compact and powerful punch in pass protection. He has adequate inline power as a run-blocker and flashes an edge to his game. While he hasn't had problems off the field, there are concerns about Garcia's maturity and work ethic. -- Kevin Weidl

How he fits: Garcia is a versatile lineman and could be groomed to take over at left tackle for Nate Solder, who is entering a contract year. -- Kevin Weidl



4 (25) Deatrich Wise Jr., DE, Arkansas | Highlights

What he brings: Wise only started 10 games at Arkansas and his injury history is concerning. He didn't run well at the combine either. However, the 2016 team captain is an above-average hand fighter who has excellent length and the potential to develop into an effective rotational player. -- Steve Muench



6 (28) Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA

What he brings: McDermott isn't as athletic on tape as his combine numbers would suggest. He's not an overpowering run-blocker either. He has the length to develop into a No. 3 swing tackle if the collegiate left tackle proves he can provide depth at right tackle, too. -- Steve Muench



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