Late Thursday afternoon, the Patriots continued a post-draft tradition, only with a twist this year.
Normally, the team introduces its top draft choice to the media when that player arrives for rookie orientation and mini-camp the weekend after the NFL Draft. This year, though, seeing how New England didn't have first- or second-round selections and only picked four players total, the Patriots decided to bring the entire draft class out for the ceremonial greeting.
Patriots owners Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft escorted the four players onto the field, where the elder Kraft quipped that "there's definitely something in the milk they're drinking" because of their collective heights.
"We think we're competitive with the Celts," added Kraft in reference to DE Derek Rivers (6-5), DL Deatrich Wise (6-5), and tackles Antonio Garcia (6-6) and Conor McDermott (6-8).
A jersey is customarily presented to the top pick, with the number 1 and the player's name on the back, but this time, the Krafts and their newest players held up two jerseys – one with 20, the other 17 – to commemorate the unique draft class, the smallest in Patriots history.
After the brief photo opportunity on the newly installed Gillette Stadium playing surface, Rivers, the first player selected by New England this year, was given the honor of addressing the media.
"This is awesome," Rivers commented about being in his new stadium for the first time.
Born in Augusta, Maine, Rivers has an intrinsic connection to New England. His mother also attended Northeastern University in Boston and was already a Patriots fan before her son was drafted last weekend.
"Our family is ecstatic… my mom lost her mind," Rivers continued with a chuckle. "Just to be in this stadium is an overwhelming feeling… now, the goal is to focus on winning another Super Bowl.
"I definitely have a sense of eagerness. Coming to this organization, it makes you want to work harder. I'm just ready to get things going."
The Patriots welcomed their four draft picks – Derek Rivers, Tony Garcia, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Conor McDermott – to Gillette Stadium on Thursday, May 4. The rookies met Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft, and were introduced on the Gillette Stadium field.