How the New England Patriots’ draft revealed Bill Belichick’s views on roster – NFL Nation

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots’ rookie class has become widespread by draft analysts, with some scouts and leaders throughout the NFL also sharing their view with ESPN that first-round pick Cole Strange and second-round pick Tyquan Thornton went earlier than their teams had. expected.

“I just do not think they gained value with their first two picks this year,” wrote ESPN senior draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

An ESPN draft analyst colleague, Todd McShay, reiterated these thoughts, calling the Strange election “eyebrow-raising”, noting that he was his 77th rated lead.

Jordan Reid, another ESPN draft analyst, rated Strange as a third-round pick.

While everyone expressed respect for longtime coach Bill Belichick and acknowledged that he could finally get the last laugh, the Patriots’ early draft work – and how it did not fit with the boards of draft analysts or other teams – became a topic of discussion in some NFL circles. .

What does it really mean?

Not much now. After all, there is no shortage of examples of patriots being widely praised for a draft, only to later learn that the class did not produce the expected results (here is a random example from 2019 – an A for what which now looks more like a D-draft).

There is so much going on between when a player is selected and the three-year window that most around the NFL believe is the benchmark for when a draft can be analyzed most fairly.

It is crucial how the players are trained and brought into the system. The mentality of how they take that coaching and adapt to football as their full-time job is just as important. Injuries are sometimes a factor.

So at this point, instead of a knee-jerk instant analysis of the Patriots ‘draft class, a perhaps smarter approach is to downplay the question of how they fared, and instead ask this: What did the Patriots’ draft approach say about how to look? Bill Belichick on his team?

Here is a reporter’s view:

1. Speed ​​during offense: When you pick the receiver (Thornton) and the backhand (Pierre Strong Jr.) who hit the fastest 40-yard dash times on the NFL combine in their respective position groups, it couldn’t be more obvious. Several home run threats were needed on the attack.

2. Shift change: One of the big repercussions on the Strange election was that the Patriots created the need by trading veteran guard Shaq Mason in March. It’s a way of looking at it, but a more accurate assessment seems to be that Belichick did not consider Mason’s performance worthy of his salary and saw the draft as the best way to not only upgrade, but do so at a fraction of the cost. It didn’t have to be in the first round, but that’s how it turned out.

3. Eyes on AFC East: The physical makeup and sticky coverage / sudden playing style of cornerbacks from third and fourth rounds Marcus Jones (5-foot-8, 174 pounds) and Jack Jones (5-foot-10, 171) seem like a direct reaction to what the Patriots are up against for in the division – as the dynamic Tyreek Hill joins Jaylen Waddle in Miami, and few Patriots could keep up with Bills pass catchers Stefon Diggs, Isaiah McKenzie & Co., late last season – especially on deep crossing routes.

4. Still invested in young LBs: What is to be said about the Patriots completely passing linebackers on? Belichick is not yet ready to give up on the 2020 election in the third round, Anfernee Jennings, and as the director of personal player Matt Groh said, the election in the fifth round in 2021 is Cameron McGrone as an “extra draft election” after having sat out during his rookie season while recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee joint in Michigan. There are also 2021 third round election Ronnie Perkins and 2020 second round Josh Uche in the conversation.

5. White has a wildcard: Veteran runback James White said last week that he is still not released after hip surgery last season. When the team pulls two running backs (Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris) despite already having Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson and White on the list, it reinforces that the team is protecting itself when it comes to White’s status.

6. Hedge of Harris’ future: Harris is entering the final year of his contract in 2022, and while an extension can never be ruled out, loading the depth chart behind him with two draft picks could herald how Belichick will look at future contract negotiations. It marked the first time the Patriots selected two running backs in a draft since 2011 (Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley).

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See the top highlights that contributed to a great college career for Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe.

7. Stidham with notice: The selection of Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth round (No. 137) puts the spotlight on Jarrett Stidham’s development. The election in the fourth round in 2019 does not seem to increase and now has a real battle to make the team as a backup for Mac Jones.

8. Believe in Groh: Belichick seems to have put a lot of trust in Groh, the first-year director of player staff and former national scout, given that he deviated from power programs on a few choices. Strange played in Tennessee-Chattanooga, fourth-round Strong in South Dakota State and sixth-round Sam Roberts in Northwest Missouri State.

9. Inner circle: As shown on Patriots.com, the Patriots probably have the smallest draw in the NFL, with Belichick, Groh, owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft, scouting director Eliot Wolf, pro-scouting director Steve Cargile, senior football advisor Matt Patricia, college scouting director Camren Williams, director of football / head coach administration Berj Najarian and research director Richard Miller among the select few from the organization who were seen on day 1 of the draft. This is the leadership team Belichick has entrusted for a year of transition, with former player staff director Dave Ziegler rising to become Raiders general manager.

10. Return game: After a downturn in special teams, one way to bring the mojo back is to pick out the draft’s most dynamic punt return in the third round (Marcus Jones). Groh also said the Patriots will consider what second-round burner Thornton could also contribute (possibly at kickoff return). Projecting selections on the list is an essential part of the draft, and this was a reminder of how the Patriots continue to put significant emphasis on fourth down.



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