Wise Guy: Patriots Found Late Round Gem

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

As I reviewed the Patriots 2017 draft class quartet, something didn’t make sense.

How did a 6-5 275-pound defensive end with an eight sack season under his belt slide to the fourth round? Deatrich Wise Jr. is usually what comes to mind when a coach or general manager imagines an ideal edge player. Tall, well built and with long arms.

And, going by his statistics, productive. In his penultimate season at Arkansas, Wise had eight sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, three passed deflected and three forced fumbles. Wise wasn’t just a pass rusher. He was a complete defensive end, affecting the game not just by getting sacks.

Yet, there Wise was, waiting until the 131st selection to find a home.

So I looked Wise Jr. up on YouTube. He was nearly dominant in the East-West Shrine Game. So why wasn’t Wise Jr. this good during his senior year?

I asked a draft analyst via Twitter why did Wise drop all the way to the fourth round. The response was the infections coaches dread: inconsistency and coachability. Mental inflictions that can take all the talent in the world and make a player ordinary, oftentimes worse.

Some coaches think they’re miracle workers. They believe they can coach a bust in waiting and turn him into a serviceable player, if not more. But some coaches wouldn’t even bother with a talented prospect if he’s lazy and doesn’t listen.

What wasn’t said about Wise was he played his senior year with a hand and shoulder injury. Wise didn’t miss a game, but his sack total fell to just 3.5 and one forced fumble. But Wise Jr. still batted three passes and he had career high 49 tackles, an indication Wise was still making plays in 2015. He just didn’t get to the quarterback as well as he did a year ago.

With a full season under his belt and two playoff games logged, maybe what was wrong with Deatrich Wise Jr. is people put too much emphasis on his last season as a Razorback.

He started his pro career with three sacks in his first five games. After an eight game lull, Wise finished strong with two sacks in the final three games. In the playoffs Wise took down Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota twice but failed to bag Jacksonville Jaguars’ Blake Bortles.

Wise isn’t the fastest guy out there. In motion Wise looks like Chandler Jones, a former Patriots 2012 first round draft pick. The latter logged his third straight double-digit sack season, with a career high 17 in 2017.

Coachability? Wise credits his late season bounce to working hard and picking the brain of Trey Flowers, his former college teammate. Flowers told the Providence Journal that Wise is a “student of the game.”

Inconsistency? Wise is working on that. An eight game sack drought sucks, but there are other ways to influence a game. Applying pressure, rushing from the inside or out, batting passes and defending the run all matter.

If Wise plays hard and contributes week to week, the sacks will come. And he would become the player that some analysts didn’t expect.

Nothing wrong with that.

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