Bill Belichick, New England Patriots lag behind when it comes to drafting receivers

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and the NFL:

Multiple WR options: Coach Bill Belichick’s history of picking wide receivers in the draft – with the misfire on N’Keal Harry’s first round in 2019, the most recent log on fire – is an annual hot-button topic at this point in the NFL calendar.

It’s not entirely bad. But it could be a lot better.

And a case could be made that the reason it’s no better is right in front of Belichick’s eyes, with the upcoming NFL draft (April 28-30, ESPN) – along with the dramatic, changing economic landscape among top veteran recipients – making the timing a priority more recipients.

Keep in mind that since Belichick arrived in New England in 2000, he has only selected 18 receivers in the draft. It is a draw for the fifth-lowest total over that period and does not take into account that six of these recipients were selected in the seventh / final round, and one is an option for special teams (Matthew Slater).

The Ravens (30), Bengals (30) and Packers (29) have drawn the most receivers since 2000, with Green Bay considered by many to be one of the most impressive teams when it comes to developing perspectives on the position. The Steelers (23), just above the league average of 22.5, are also widely considered to be excellent.

The Patriots’ acquisition of DeVante Parker in a trade last week may reduce the immediate need for a receiver, but there is still a future vacuum to consider with Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor, scheduled for unlimited free agency, and Kendrick Bourne yet a solid season away from possibly even being able to request a pay rise.

Then consider the latest series of big-money extensions for recipients that create sticker shocks for some around the NFL – Davante Adams (five years, $ 141.25 million, $ 65 million guaranteed), Tyreek Hill (four years, $ 120 million, $ 75 million guaranteed) ), Stefon Diggs (four years, $ 104 million, $ 70 million guaranteed) – and teams may now prioritize drafting recipients more than they previously did.

“When you start throwing that money around, if it’s a quarterback, then I understand it. If it’s a pass-rusher, I understand it. Guys who influence games all the time. With a receiver – they’s important not to misunderstand me, but a good defensive coordinator can take them off the roster, “said Scot McCloughan, the former general manager of Washington and San Francisco, who now works as an independent scouting consultant for NFL teams.

“So now you’re lucky if he touches the ball 6-8 times in a match … it’s just who’s going to affect the game the most.”

McCloughan added that the award can always be justified if a team feels it is close to a championship, but he sees the draft – and getting quality production on players on cheaper rookie contracts – becoming even more critical.

This reflects something that ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid pointed out: “With wide receivers expected to make so much money from their rookie deals, we could see teams choosing to simply turn to the draft to rebuild that player’s talent instead. to pay him. “

This is one of the reasons why Belichick and the less than average investment of the receiver can become costly (financially and otherwise) for the Patriots if it continues.

It does not necessarily have to be on No. 21 picks, though it’s always good to be aware of receiver-seeking teams like Green Bay (No. 22) and Kansas City (Nos. 29 and 30) lurking behind them. Prospects like Ohio State’s Chris Olave, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Penn State’s Jahan Dotson and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks would be among those to be considered in the first round.

In a draft considered deep by the receiver, there should also be plenty of options through the intermediate rounds to consider (ESPN’s Matt Bowen identified Boise State’s Khalil Shakir as suitable for New England in the intermediate rounds).

McCloughan, who got his start in the NFL as a regional scout for the Packers and remembers the current Patriots director of scouting, Eliot Wolf, who attended meetings as a young man to see his father (GM Ron Wolf), said one of the greatest challenges of being a GM. was adjusting to the market as wages rose.

“I think that’s a bit what’s going on now [at receiver],” he said.

2. Macs mission: Some who have spent time around quarterback Mac Jones this offseason describe him as being on a mission – from following a disciplined diet to focusing on the basic elements of the whole body that will help him speed up his throws, when necessary, maintenance of arm care, as well as strengthening the ties to teammates on and off the field. While Bourne’s Instagram photos from Tampa last week focused on Jones’ work with receivers, I’m told it was not the first time Jones gathered with teammates this offseason, with a handful of sessions in Massachusetts a few weeks ago , which included Agholor, tight-end Jonnu Smith, training team receiver Tre Nixon and running back Damien Harris, among others.

Brown’s goal – 365 pounds: The Patriots’ offensive tackle Trent Brown’s two-year contract includes a $ 750,000 weight bonus in 2022 and 2023, and here are the details:

  • 385 pounds or less on the first day of the offseason program – $ 150,000

  • 375 pounds or less on June 1 – $ 75,000

  • 365 pounds or less on July 15 – $ 75,000

  • 365 pounds or less every Thursday during the season – $ 25,000 per. week

6-foot-8 Brown is one of the NFL’s greatest players, and one of the most important things to deduce from the contract is that the team sees him best at 365 pounds. He is listed at £ 380 on the official list.

Brown also has significant incentives for playing time. He can earn $ 500,000 if he participates in 65% of the offensive snaps, and an additional $ 500,000 at 70%. He can also earn $ 750,000 on each of the following playing time markers – 75%, 80%, 85% and 90%. A final incentive is $ 500,000 for 95% of the snaps or being selected for the Pro Bowl on the original ballot.

4. Write a story: Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning, an expected first-round pick, was reportedly among a group of leads who visited New England last week. Teams can host up to 30 leads at their facility, and visits are often used to clean up the final details (e.g., medical, interview, etc.). Offensive tackling would not be a headline-grabbing choice, but with starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn scheduled for unlimited free play after the 2022 season and Brown on a strong incentive deal, it would also make sense. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay at Penning: “Big, strong, physical, ugly guy. He’s probably the ugliest offensive lineman in this class. He’s a finisher.” It sounds a lot like the former Patriot Logan Mankins.

5. Wise man: Six-year-old defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr., who received an unexpected $ 2.85 million signing bonus as part of a restructured deal to help the Patriots create cap space last week, has had a daily presence at Gillette Stadium in recent weeks. It continued on Saturday as he held a Q&A for season ticket members at the Patriots’ annual Draft Preview event.

6. Middle class: when Patriots payroll guru Miguel Benzan tweeted that every Patriot in the top 51 has a ceiling of $ 1 million or more – a rarity in the NFL in terms of spreading wealth out on the list – the first thought that came to mind was this comment from owner Robert Kraft at. NFL Annual Meeting. “I think people who do not understand our sport also do not understand the opportunity cost of not having players on the field. If you saw our nutrition staff, our rehabilitation staff and our weight room people, there is a complex picture to try to give us a chance to have as many of the guys out there on Sunday as possible.The Patriots, faithful to form, are betting that it will be an advantage to pay more for depth.

7.Parker number: Parker carried No. 11 in his seven seasons with the Dolphins, which the Patriots have not issued to a player on the 53-man active list since Julian Edelman retired last season. Practice squad kicker Riley Patterson got 11 at some point last year, which sparked a humorous reaction from Edelman on Twitter. On the humor front, Parker wore No. 9 in Louisville and had one light-hearted back and forth with linebacker Matthew Judon about possibly prying it away from him.

8. Patriots Hall: The Patriots ‘Hall of Fame committee met Wednesday to discuss nominations for this year’s inauguration, and as usual, there was passionate discussion, with Bill Parcells’ candidacy being the most polarizing. Nine players / coaches were nominated, and then each member of the committee voted to narrow the list to three – one vote in first place gives five points, second place is three points, third place is one point on each ballot (my ballot: Mike Vrabel, Parcells , Vince Wilfork … with Wes Welker / Mankins on deck and Julius Adams my top senior candidate in 2023). The finalists are expected to be announced later in the week, and then a fan poll will determine who will be inducted. One reason I enjoy participating in the process is that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to a Hall of Fame team. That’s what hits you personally.

9. Eyes of staff: Ross Douglas’ official title on Belichick’s staff last year was the NFL coaching community / defense, and this offseason he has turned to the offensive. So it leaves an opening in the defense, and a well-known name fits well to fill it – V’Angelo Bentley. Die-hard Patriots fans remember that Bentley had signed with New England as an undefeated free agent in 2016 from Illinois. Bentley spent last season as a candidate assistant at Penn State, where he mostly worked with defensive backs, which is similar to the void created by Douglas’ shift to offensive.

10. Did you know: The Patriots wide receivers combined for 103 received first downs last season, ranking 28th in the NFL. In addition, the Patriots were the first team since the Rams in 2009 to go an entire season without a player having a 100-yard receiving game.

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