Thoughts On Derek Rivers, Antonio Garcia, and Day 3 #Patriots Targets

Some initial thoughts on the Patriots drafting defensive end Derek Rivers and offensive tackle Antonio Garcia. Also, some day 3 prospects to watch.

Derek Rivers: There’s a lot to like about the Patriots first selection of the 2017 draft. Rivers put up impressive numbers in his senior season at Youngstown State with 14 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. Rivers played both defensive end spots, and primarily rushed with his hand in the ground. Rivers has a decent first step but it’s his hands and understanding of leverage that allowed him to dominate in college. There are a few fixable things (rushing with his head down) that will make Rivers better right away, but his lack of length and elite agility may lower his ceiling overall. Rivers isn’t going to wow you with pass rush moves, but he uses his hands well and plays with good effort. Here are some clips from Rivers’ 2016 season:

This is probably Rivers’ biggest highlight play with the film that I’ve been able to find of his. Rivers does it all on this play. Shows a good first step and quickness around the edge, while also using his hands well to shed the blocker. What makes this play great is the closing speed and the hit Rivers delivers on the quarterback.

Here’s Rivers showing of what I think is his path to early success in the NFL. Rivers can use his quick first step and convert it into power, and continues on through initial contact. He’s also constantly getting his hands under the tackles shoulders to create more leverage.

Another good example of Rivers showing off the bull rush and hand placement. Pushes the tackle right back into the quarterback.

Antonio Garcia: The Patriots traded up in the third round to land Garcia and when you see his athleticism and foot speed you understand why. Garcia has some dominant tape at left tackle in pass protection, and according to Pro Football Focus he didn’t allow a sack in 2016. In fact, also per PFF, Garcia had the second highest pass block efficiency of any OT in this class. The reason why Garcia wasn’t a higher pick is because he’s underweight for an offensive tackle and may not have the frame to add bulk. If Garcia can add size while not losing his athleticism he could eventually be a starting left tackle in the NFL. Here’s some good and bad Garcia from Troy’s game against Clemson in 2016:

Garcia consistently shows elite get off and can easily mirror pass rushers in pass protection. When describing his playing style Garcia simply said, “physical, athletic, just nasty” and this clip says all that.

Here’s another example of Garcia’s elite pass protection skills. Clemson sends a linebacker on a speed rush off the edge. Garcia is able to stay in front of him and push him well past the quarterback.

The major concern with Garcia is his ceiling as a run blocker, and from a big picture perspective his overall size. It’s not very difficult to find clips of Garcia getting pushed around in the running game. If he’s going to start consistently in the NFL he will have to get stronger.

Day 3 Prospects: The Patriots currently have three selections on day 3 of the draft. They are as follows: Round 4 (131 overall), round 5 (183 overall), and round 7 (239 overall). Here are some names to look for in each round.

Round 4: OG Isaac Asiata, TE Jake Butt, TE George Kittle, DT Jaleel Johnson, CB Howard Wilson, LB Blair Brown, S Eddie Jackson

Round 5: TE Michael Roberts, CB Brian Allen, WR Fred Ross, S Josh Harvey-Clemsons, OL Sean Harlow

Round 7: LB Harvey Langi, OG Jordan Morgan, OLB Tashawn Bower, WR Artavis Scott, OLB Bryan Cox