With the NFL Draft behind us, everyone is looking forward to the regular season. Who will be the top rookie in the small class for the New England Patriots?
After a strong offseason, the New England Patriots didn’t make a whole lot of noise in the NFL Draft. Without a good amount of their picks coming into the draft, the Patriots ended up making just four selections which were a franchise-low.
The first choice for the Patriots was defensive end Derek Rivers from Youngstown State. Rivers should provide the Patriots with a player that can come in and put pressure on the quarterback right from the start.
Recently, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com chose Rivers as the top rookie for the Patriots heading into 2017. Here’s what Reiss had to say.
"The team’s top draft pick (third round, No. 83 overall), Rivers projects as a situational pass-rusher and special teams contributor from Day 1, with the hope that he grows into a larger role. His 41 career sacks at Youngstown State are a school record. — Mike Reiss"
Choosing Rivers as the top rookie for the Patriots makes sense. As their highest pick in the NFL Draft, he will also likely have the biggest role of any of the rookies.
Offensive tackle Antonio Garcia was also selected in the third round, but he likely needs a year of seasoning. Also, the Patriots’ offensive line should be set for the 2017 season, but Garcia could be in their plans for the 2018 season.
With Rob Ninkovich coming off a poor season in 2016 and entering the final year of his contract, Rivers should get a good amount of chances to play. As a natural pass rusher, Rivers might find himself in the Patriots’ defensive end rotation rather quickly. Finally, if he proves he can get to the quarterback early on, expect to see him carve out a nice role for himself in 2017.