The New England Patriots didn't have a lot of draft capital entering the 2017 NFL Draft. They had offloaded their first-round pick in the Brandin Cooks deal and had moved out of the second round as a part of their acquisition of Kony Ealy for the Carolina Panthers.
Add in the usual moving and maneuvering that the Patriots do in every draft, and the team only came away with four total picks.
It was an unusually light haul for the Patriots. In fact, it's the fewest picks a Patriots team has made during Belichick's tenure in New England. The second-fewest came all the way back in 2002 when the Patriots made six selections overall.
On the bright side, the Patriots did land a key contributor who bolstered their defensive line en route to consecutive Super Bowl performances. They also got a solid season out of Cooks and were able to flip him (along with a fourth-round pick) for first and sixth-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, they didn't hit on their two highest picks in the 2017 NFL Draft and only escaped the event with one true contributor.
Here's a look back at how the Patriots fared in the '17 draft and some retrospective grades for their four-pick haul.
Patriots 2017 NFL Draft re-grades
Round 3, Pick 83: EDGE Derek Rivers
Rivers flashed a little bit of pass rushing upside during his time with the Patriots, but injuries derailed his career. He missed his rookie 2017 season with a torn ACL and missed the entire 2019 season with another injury. He managed 2.5 sacks in 19 games with the Patriots in limited snaps. He's now with the Texans and will look to resurrect his career.
Rivers is still just 26, so if he can stay healthy, he may be able to turn into a solid rotational pass rusher. But as for his Patriots career, his four years with the team passed relatively quietly. Even more painful, Chris Godwin went one selection after Rivers, so Patriots fans are probably wondering what could have been if they had landed him instead of Rivers.
Round 3, Pick 85: OT Antonio Garcia
Through no fault of his own, Garcia never played a down for the Patriots. During the preseason of his rookie year, he was placed on the NFI list as a result of blood clots in his lungs. He missed his entire first year and was waived the following May.
After that, Garcia bounced around the NFL and spent time with the Jets, Colts, and Dolphins but failed to make the 53-man roster of any team. Now, he's with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.
Garcia had a bad hand dealt to him, but there's no denying that this was a bust pick for the Patriots. They got nothing out of Garcia and selected him just a handful of picks before the likes of Shaquill Griffin, Kenny Golladay, and Jonnu Smith. That makes him the worst pick of the Patriots' 2017 draft haul.
Round 4, Pick 131: DL Deatrich Wise Jr.
Wise is clearly the best pick that the Patriots made in the '17 draft. He's the only one of the four selections that's still with the team and he has been a key role player for the squad.
Since being drafted, Wise has played in 62 games and has made 18 starts, seven of which came during the 2020 season. He's a good pass rusher that had 14 sacks in his four NFL seasons. He generates a lot more heat than the 2.5 sacks he notched last season indicate, as he had 21 pressures in '20. He also had a career-high 49 tackles last year after bulking up to improve as a run defender.
Wise re-signed with the Patriots on a four-year contract worth $22 million during the 2021 NFL offseason. Clearly, Bill Belichick values what he brings to the team's defensive front as a versatile, well-rounded lineman.
Round 6, Pick 211: OT Conor McDermott
McDermott has carved out a nice career for himself as a swing tackle at the NFL level. The UCLA product has added a little muscle to his 6-foot-8 frame and has been a solid backup for the teams he has played for.
Unfortunately, those teams have not included the Patriots. McDermott couldn't crack the 53-man roster for the Patriots to start the 2017 season and he was promptly claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Bills.
McDermott spent two-plus seasons with the Bills before he was waived again and landed with the New York Jets. McDermott has played 30 games during his NFL career including 15 (one start) for the Jets last year.
This grade is a little bit complex, as McDermott has become a solid NFL player... but not for the Patriots. But overall, finding a key role player in Round 6 is never a bad thing. It's only bad when that player bolsters depth on two divisional rivals.