It is business as usual in New England this offseason. Bill Belichick’s chant “no days off” echoed throughout the region and even after celebrating a fifth Superbowl victory it was known there was still more work needed to be done. The Patriots kept busy during the draft process and added an array of players. They were able to use their draft picks to trade for proven NFL talent and draft players they valued.
Let us focus on how they used each draft pick to acquire talent. Starting with their first round pick.
1st Round Pick – Brandin Cooks, WR: The Patriots landed the star wideout by trading their 32nd overall first round pick to the Saints. Just 23 years old, Brandin Cooks brings youth and proven talent to the offense but most importantly he brings blazing speed and quickness. Tom Brady has not had a deep threat receiver like this since Randy Moss and will look to get on the same page with Cooks quickly. An already potent passing offense just got more dynamic and should result in elevated production out of Cooks this season.
2nd Round Pick – Kony Ealy, DE: By trading the 64th overall pick to the Panthers the Patriots received the 72nd overall pick and snagged Kony Ealy, 25, a versatile defensive end. Kony Ealy is a young proven NFL talent and was most notably the best player on the field in Superbowl 50 while recording three sacks in the game along with one interception and one forced fumble. The Patriots will find ways to use him along the defensive line.
3rd Round Pick – Derek Rivers, DE/OLB: Even with their first selection in the draft being in the third round the Patriots still get great value in selecting talented pass rusher Derek Rivers. Coming out of a small school such as Youngstown State there were questions as to whether he could succeed against higher competition even after dominating the FCS. After seeing him perform at the combine and the Senior Bowl the Patriots were convinced he can play in the NFL and are excited to see what he can do in this defense. Rivers provides depth at both defensive end and outside linebacker.
3rd Round Pick – Antonio Garcia, OT: With Nate Solder and Cameron Fleming both free agents after this season it was a good idea for the Patriots to go after an offensive tackle in this draft and they got a good one. One of the better tackles in this draft class, Antonio Garcia is a tough player that performs all the way through the whistle on every play. Garcia was overlooked coming out of Troy but turned heads at the Senior Bowl and is the type of player Dante Scarrnechia can turn into a gem.
4th Round Pick – Dwayne Allen, TE: The Patriots were able to send a fourth round pick to the Colts in exchange for Dwayne Allen and a sixth round pick. He will give the Patriots much needed production from the tight end position behind Rob Gronkowski and will be able to start in the case of another Gronkowski injury. Look for Allen to have one of his best seasons as he will be utilized as both a pass catcher and a blocker.
4th Round Pick – Deatrich Wise Jr., DE: Using a fourth round pick on another defensive end the Patriots selected Deatrich Wise Jr. our of Arkansas. The Patriots are hoping to strike gold again on an Arkansas defensive end like they did with Trey Flowers. Wise has had comparisons to Chandler Jones so look for him to play in a similar role.
5th Round Pick – Mike Gillislee, RB: By signing restricted free agent Mike Gillislee to a contract and the Bills deciding not to match the Patriots sent a fifth round pick to the Bills. Gillislee is a strong runner who recorded 8 touchdowns while sharing snaps with LeSean McCoy last season and will look to contribute for the Patriots while James White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead will also be rotated into the mix.
5th Round Pick – James O’Shaughnessy, TE: The Chiefs were crowded at tight end on the depth chart and were looking to deal someone. The Patriots inquired about O’Shaughnessy and were able to acquire him for a fifth round pick. James O’Shaughnessy is known more for his pass catching ability than his blocking and was even a receiver in high school. Look for him to provide solid depth as the third tight end on the depth chart.
6th Round Pick – Conor McDermott, OT: The Patriots used a sixth round pick on Conor McDermott out of UCLA. While being highly touted after his junior season, McDermott did not do as well as many would have hoped during his senior season. While his strength is perceived as a weakness it is something the Patriots believe he can improve on at the next level.
It was a successful offseason on paper for the Patriots. Now it is time to put the work in and see the results.
Thank you, now we are on to more sports talk.