If the Patriots are hoping their new draft picks will hit the ground running when they get to work building a foundation with their new team, at least one player already has someone he can feel comfortable being around.
Fourth-round selection Deatrich Wise Jr, a defensive end out of Arkansas, is also a former teammate of Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers after the two played together at Arkansas. While it’s typically hard enough for a new player to take the next step from the college ranks into the NFL, having a familiar face already in the locker room for Wise Jr. should certainly make that a little easier.
The two certainly share some similarities. Both were highly talented prospects coming out of college and looking back at their combine numbers, the two are comparable players in terms of how they each performed during their respective years. Flowers was even the top performer in his class in three categories, including the vertical jump (36.5 inches), broad jump (121 inches) and 60-yard shuttle (12.03 seconds).
However, Wise Jr. actually out-performed him this year in a few categories. He had a faster 40 time (4.92 vs 4.93), longer broad jump (125 inches vs 121 inches), and a faster 3 cone drill (7.07 seconds vs 7.34).
Flowers was a player who Wise Jr. told reporters during his conference call Saturday that he looked up to during their time together, and he’s looking forward to the opportunity to play with him at the next level.
“It was a great relationship, an older brother-type relationship,” said Wise Jr.. “He was a mentor to me throughout his last two years, my first two years. He taught me how to do certain things, taught me how to watch film, taught me how to play certain positions, and on top of all that, just the mindset to play and the mindset you have to have to go into a game, go into a practice, go into life. I have a good relationship with Trey and looking forward to meeting up there and working with him.”
Wise finished his college career with 16.5 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss.
He’s definitely a disruptive player, having finished his college career with 112 tackles, including 23 for a loss along with 16.5 sacks. He also had six passes defensed, as well as four forced fumbles including one recovery.
One of the things that’s somewhat fascinating about Wise is the fact that he might be a talented player with first-round ability who fell to New England after injuries caused his stock to drop. As Jason Kersey of SEC Country points out, Wise Jr. was once considered to be a first-round prospect after a 2015 season that saw him finish with 8 sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss. But he broke his hand in the 2016 season opener and later separated his shoulder, which saw him play the rest of the season primarily as a third-down pass-rusher. He battled through it, finishing the year with just 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss.
“I came into the season with a hand injury and then four or five weeks into the season, I had that shoulder injury,” said Wise Jr. of last season. “It was difficult. It was tough to play with those injuries, but I persevered through them and that’s what happened.”
Wise Jr. also has an NFL bloodline, with his father having played for Seattle and New Orleans. He said in an interview with SEC Sports that his dad always reminded him to believe in himself and give it his best each time he stepped out there.
“Well, one, he talked about my mentality and how every time you get on the field, just give it your all,” said Wise Jr. “As many times I didn’t start this whole season where I wasn’t the starter, but every time I stepped on the field, I believed in myself to make plays and I said, ‘I’m going to give my all’, that’s what happened.”
And now he joins his father as another member of his family to play in the NFL, which will see him begin the journey to try and create his own legacy here in New England in the coming months.