When the New England Patriots selected defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. with the 131st overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, the former Arkansas’s Razorback believed that he had found an ideal football home. Even before taking a snap in Foxboro, Wise was certain that his work ethic and football IQ would set him apart from his competition. He had the right attitude for success, and his physical skills translated very well into the Patriots defensive system.
As he prepares to enter his fifth season in New England, Wise has indeed become a mainstay in the Patriots pass rush. At 6-foot-5, 275-pounds, he has provided the Pats with the size and length to make him a dual contributor in both run and pass defense. In addition to his 14 career sacks and 131 total tackles, he continues to exhibit great field awareness. It was this combination of skill and system knowledge that led New England to sign him to a four-year, $22 million deal in the offseason.
Despite his logistical fit within the Pats defense, Wise has found success in Foxboro primarily as a result of his versatility. Ever since he arrived in New England, he has been employed all over the Patriots’ defensive line. He was originally used as a rotational edge that was moved inside on select passing downs. However, he has also spent time as a 3-4 tackle and sub-package defensive end.
Wise has also added a new dimension to his versatility, as well as a line item to his resume: reserve long snapper. While he poses no threat to incumbent Joe Cardona, Wise spent time participating in field-goal blocking drills with special teams on Tuesday. He is no stranger to this duty. Wise snapped while playing for Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas. Over the past few years, Wise has continued to keep his skills sharp, at the encouragement of his coaches.
"When everything fails, I'm behind Joe (Cardona)," he smirkingly told reporters on Tuesday.
Though a positional switch is highly unlikely, Wise’s diverse skill set makes him a perfect fit in Foxboro. It also speaks to his steadfast work ethic. During his time at Arkansas, he overcame both hand and shoulder injuries, to end his college career on a high note, including a dominant performance in the East-West Shrine Game. Still, he entered the NFL keenly aware of his need to enhance his speed to consistently get to the quarterback, as well as to attack the opponent's running game.
Although he has continuously shown marked improvement in those areas, Wise would be the first to say that he still has greater miles to travel to reach his full potential. He is determined to do so, and considers himself fortunate that he has, perhaps, the best practice partners in the NFL. New England’s 2021 offensive line is projected to be among the best of the best in the league. In fact, Wise believes that it might be the best he and the Patriots defense will see this year.
"I believe we have one of the best offensive lines that I've seen so far,” Wise said about the team’s protective unit on offense. “They're stronger and they've gotten better, so I feel like this is pretty much our best look that we're going to see."
While Wise’s words could simply be seen as complementary toward his teammates, the internal competition between the two units is what drives Wise to be better each day. However, in New England it is not just about the attitude. You have to put in the work to find success. One might say, you have to ‘do your job.’
Deatrich Wise, Jr. does, and he wouldn't have it any other way.