Nominally, the New England Patriots took two players at the same position by selecting Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise and Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers. But the two players couldn’t be more different.
With the two picks, the Patriots have created depth and versatility at a position which was lacking both.
At 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, Wise outsizes the Rivers, who is 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. Wise is a power rusher. He’s versatile as a defensive end, but also potentially as defensive tackle on passing downs. Rivers, on the other hand, is a speed rusher, who uses his athleticism to get to the passer. He’s versatile as a defensive end and potentially as a linebacker.
While Wise is not totally similar to former Arkansas Razorback and current Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers in terms of skill set or size, the two players could have similar roles on the Patriots defense. Rivers, conversely, is almost like Jamie Collins in terms of body type — but Rivers doesn’t have nearly as much talent in coverage and run defense. So the Patriots add Wise at the same position as Rivers. But there isn’t much — or any — redundancy with the two picks.
Wise is a large, powerful and versatile pass rusher.
“Go back to the well. It worked out with Trey Flowers,” draft analyst Todd McShay said on the ESPN broadcast Saturday. “Wise is a guy that I think has a lot of ability. Based on the 2015 tape, I thought he had the chance to emerge as a Day 2 prospect. This year, he struggled with some durability. He had a broken hand, separated shoulder. He also, in 2012, had a season-ending injury. So that’s a part of the reason why he’s still here. But he is a versatile — not surprising — defensive end, who can rush to the inside. Long arms, and does a great job using them. . .
“I like his potential. I think he’s going to be in the rotation in New England.”
Wise finished his 2015 season with 10 sacks, 12 QB hits, and 21 hurries on only 259 rushes, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s the kind of form the Patriots hope he can find again before injuries seem to have derailed his progress and production.
In all likelihood, Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia have the intentions of using him on first and second down at defensive end before moving him to defensive tackle on passing downs. But that’s no sure thing. The defensive end tested similarly to former Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones at the NFL combine. And their measurements are awfully similar.