Patriots fans everywhere have spent the last two months fervently working on mock draft after mock draft, trying to predict what will happen when the team is on the clock on April 29. As it turns out, those running their favorite team have been taking part in a similar exercise.
On Thursday afternoon, Bill Belichick spoke to New England media for the first time this offseason. While much of the draft discourse surround the Patriots has regarded different players, Belichick went in-depth on the strategy of the draft itself, and the decision making that comes after the players have been scouted.
“When we walk into the room for the final exam and then we see the questions on the test when it comes our turn to pick – or maybe a few spots in front of our pick – then we have to potentially start making some decisions,” Belichick said of draft night. “A lot of it is fluid, but there are certainly scenarios that are worth going through as exercises to think about and kind of prepare for.”
What kind of situations do Belichick & Co. prepare for? “I think we could eliminate a few players that won’t be at 15,” he explained. “And then you could look at a couple scenarios and say, ‘well, these three players are there which one would we take? If these other three different players are there, which one would you take?’ You go through that exercise and and talk about that.”
That being said, the NFL Draft – especially the first round – is anything but predictable. That’s when it’s time to adjust.
“I would say normally something will happen and there could very well be a player there that either you don’t expect to be there or maybe he is a couple spots – maybe at 12, 13 – he’s still on the board, and you really thought that he’d be gone in the top six, seven picks,” Belichick said. “And then the question comes, do you move up and try to get that player that’s fallen a little bit?”
Many Patriots fans may hear that and get excited. Bill Belichick, who famously keeps even the most mundane information close to the chest, citing specific draft picks? Particularly ones that could end up being a top-five quarterback, if one really takes a fall? However, before anybody’s imagination runs too wild, Belichick did say shortly after “I’m just picking numbers here out of the hat.”
With picking at 15 and trading up covered, Belichick got into the science of trading down.
“If players are on the board that you feel like don’t add a lot of value or maybe they’re not the kind of fit for your team that you’re looking for that particular situation, then maybe you say, ‘OK, we’ve got to – maybe we consider moving back,'” he explained. “Now, you can only move back if somebody else wants to move up. So ultimately, you’ve got to be ready to pick.”
“[If] you feel like you’re going to get the same player, the same quality of player or maybe the player that you like who for whatever reason you think would be available at 20, then maybe you trade back to 20 and take them there or take that value at twenty rather than taking it at fifteen,” Belichick continued, citing a strategy the Patriots have used often in the past. “There’s certainly been many times where we felt that we were able to get the same player or a comparable value at a lower point in the draft and so we moved backwards.”
In some ways, it now becomes a waiting game for the Patriots. Like many fans, they’ll wait on rumors and hearsay (although with much better connections) and try to project their options leading up to the 15th pick. Still, you can have fun trying to read between the lines and attempt to figure out which scenario the Patriots might be leaning towards two weeks removed from draft night.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.