Patriots trade up to pick UCLA’s Conor McDermott in NFL draft

The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots wanted Conor McDermott badly enough to trade up for UCLA’s left tackle, sending their sixth- and seventh-round picks to the Dallas Cowboys in order to move up for him in the sixth round.

The Patriots selected the three-year starter at UCLA with the 28th pick of the sixth round, 211th overall. They gave up the 33rd pick of the sixth round and the 21st pick of the seventh.

McDermott may be a long-term project for the Patriots, but his 6-foot-8 frame and exceptional athleticism give him plenty of upside. A tight end weighing around 240 pounds when he arrived at UCLA, the 307-pound fifth-year senior needs to make significant gains in the strength department in order to be an NFL-caliber offensive tackle.

READ: Conor McDermott has upside with height, athleticism

A second-team All-Pac-12 selection his junior and senior seasons at UCLA, McDermott was expected to go anywhere from the fifth round to the seventh round. The Patriots made him their second offensive tackle of the draft after picking Troy tackle Antonio Garcia 83rd overall in the third round.

The two draft picks will have plenty of competition with four other tackles on the Patriots roster: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle. McDermott’s quick feet – he won a basketball state championship at Ensworth High School in Nashville, Tenn. – give him plenty of upside should he add weight and get stronger.