FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots unveiled their 2017 NFL Draft class Thursday, and although it’s the team’s smallest class ever in terms of number of picks, it’s also its tallest.
Owner Robert Kraft joked that Derek Rivers, Antonio Garcia, Deatrich Wise and Conor McDermott — all ranging from 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-8 — might be able to compete with the Boston Celtics.
Rivers is the shortest of the bunch, but he’s also the most talented. The defensive end is Youngstown State’s all-time sack leader with 37.5 in four seasons, and he hopes to cause more disruption in the NFL.
“I love to pass rush,” Rivers said. “That’s my favorite thing is getting after the quarterback. I definitely bring that along with accountability and work ethic.”
Rivers has yet to meet any of the Patriots’ veteran players, but he hopes to pick their brains about how to approach down time. There’s a lot more time for football now that Rivers is no longer going to class, so he said the toughest transition will be adjusting to the new schedule.
“Getting off the college schedule and getting into the professional schedule and just trying to learn the ins and outs and hopefully learning from the vets,” Rivers said. “Just learning about what they do in the offseasons and how they approach it.”
Youngstown State head coach, Bo Pelini, also warned Rivers the game speed is a lot different in the NFL. Rivers is confident “everything should be smooth” once he gets on the field and acclimates to that game speed.
Rivers weighed in at 248 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine and is undersized compared to typical Patriots defensive ends. It doesn’t sound like the Patriots have instructed him to start bulking up just yet.
“I’m going to do whatever the coaches want me to do,” Rivers said. “If I have to gain weight, I’ll feel comfortable gaining weight. If they want me to stay where I’m at, I’ll stay where I’m at.”
Rivers said he’s already up over 250 pounds.
Thumbnail photo via NESN