AFC Draft Impact: Patriots double down on offensive tackles

If the Denver Broncos are going to get back to the Super Bowl, they will likely have to go through the New England Patriots, reigning world champs and winners of two of the last three Super Bowls. Here’s what the Patriots did in this year’s draft that Broncos fans need to know…

Overview

The Patriots do things their own way when it comes to the NFL Draft. Some years, they stockpile multiple selections and treat the draft like the stock market, buying and selling picks like a high-speed broker. This year was different in that the Patriots only had four selections and were without a first-round pick, which was traded away in the Brandin Cooks deal with New Orleans. Did the defending Super Bowl champions make the most of their few pics?

Most notable pick – Derek Rivers, LB, Round 3

Patriots fans waited a long time to hear their teams first choice, going into the latter parts of the third round before Derek Rivers heard his name called by New England. Thin at the outside linebacker spot with only Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich, New England likely took their highest-rated linebacker when their time came up. Rivers has some issues working against him, like the competition he faced while at FCS Youngstown State, but he did post impressive Combine numbers and is the school’s all-time sack leader at 41. New England always finds talent in unlikely places, so we can bet they Patriots’ front office saw plenty to warrant making Rivers a Patriot.

Head scratcher – Conor McDermott, OT, Round 6

New England liked McDermott so much that it gave up a sixth and seventh-round choice to move up and take him. A tall offensive lineman, coming in at a little over 6-foot-8, McDermott is a former basketball player that decided to move on to football after high school. While he has great height, his lack of overall strength leaves something to be desired with a frame that won’t allow him to get much bigger. With the selection of Antonio Garcia in the third round, the Pats made a puzzling move to double-dip at a spot where they already took an offensive tackle and have an established, albeit aging, veteran in Nate Solder.

Final Thoughts

Depending on who you talk to, the Patriots are either lucky or crazy in how they go about their draft process. It’s getting harder to deny the results though, as they have won two Super Bowls in the last four years and made the conference title game in the other two seasons. Coming in with a veteran roster with very few holes, you have to think the Patriots upgraded their talent again during this year’s draft.

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