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New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Eliot Wolf made a strong first impression as the New England Patriots’ new de facto GM at the NFL Combine on Tuesday. And from here on out we’ll just refer to him as the GM, because we’re sick of saying “de facto”.

Wolf made a number of interesting comments as it relates to his role on the Patriots and what the team is looking to do this off-season. Here are the seven biggest takeaways from the press conference that fans should know about…

Finding The Right Quarterback

Patriots de facto GM Eliot Wolf says the Patriots expect to meet with LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Patriots GM Eliot Wolf says the Patriots expect to meet with LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

When it comes to the Patriots’ next starting quarterback, Wolf is looking for all the right things.

Physical talent is “obviously” important, as Wolf put it. There’s one main reason certain quarterbacks rise into the first two rounds and others are late-round fliers, and that’s talent level. But again, it’s obvious. And it’s NOT the most important thing.

When you seek a franchise quarterback, the importance of leadership and intangibles vastly outweigh their physical gifts. The best have both. But when you’re drafting a quarterback high in the first round, you’re virtually guaranteed to be taking someone with legitimate physical talent.

MORE: NFL 2024 Combine schedule

That’s why it’s notable that Wolf is more focused on the other things. The right things. Because plenty of great athletes have come into the NFL, but few of them actually make the most of their talents, because they don’t have the makeup.

“Being someone that can elevate his teammates, someone that your teammates want to play for, I think that’s an extremely underrated thing that people don’t really talk about much,” Wolf said. “Leadership’s important, and obviously physical talent. We wouldn’t be talking about these guys if they weren’t physically talented.”

Now, the real challenge is hitting on the right player. But at least Wolf knows it’s not just all about arm talent. There’s so much more to quarterbacking in the NFL. And the Patriots seem to have a solid team of guys to pick the next one.

  • Shots At Belichick?

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 07: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on in the first half at Gillette Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 07: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on in the first half at Gillette Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    If the Patriots really are trying to take pot-shots at Bill Belichick, it’s getting to be a bit much. It doesn’t help that the “Dynasty” documentary is airing at the moment and is decidedly unsympathetic toward the former Patriots head coach. And there’s been constant references, possibly Kraft-encouraged, to ensure everyone that ol’ Grumpy Bill is no longer stomping around terrorizing Gillette Stadium.

    But Wolf may actually have good reason. This is a guy who came to the Patriots with 16 seasons of experience in other organizations. And Belichick probably took minimal input from him on personnel decisions. That had to rub him the wrong way, based on his comment that there’s “less of a hard ass vibe” in the building.

    So, if Wolf wants to preach “treating people the right way” and lament hard asses, he might have a case. But the Belichick-bashing has clearly reached excessive levels, based on Jerod Mayo actually speaking out about it.

  • The Packer Way

    Jan 19, 2017; Ashwaubenon, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf during practice at the Don Hutson Center in preparation for the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Jim Matthews/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 19, 2017; Ashwaubenon, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf during practice at the Don Hutson Center in preparation for the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Jim Matthews/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY Sports

    Wolf spent his first 14 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, including two as their director of football operations. So, you can expect him to bring their core philosophies to New England as he looks to build the Patriots’ roster for 2024 and beyond.

    Drafting and developing will be the foundation of the Pats’ personnel operation, as it should be. But Wolf said he’s also looking to extend “core performers” from within the organization, which brings us to the next point…

  • Retaining Stars

    Sep 25, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore (90) reacts during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 25, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore (90) reacts during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Wolf made no secrets that the Patriots want to re-sign tackle/guard Mike Onwenu, and you can add safety Kyle Dugger to that list. But if retaining core homegrown players is important to Wolf, then he’ll also get a deal done with star defensive tackle Christian Barmore, who truly became a force in his third NFL season in 2023.

  • Not biting on the drama

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots warms up as Mac Jones #10 looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 03: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots warms up as Mac Jones #10 looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Wolf may have been taking subtle shots at Mac Jones when he started talking about the importance of a quarterback’s body language. But he wouldn’t bite when asked specifically about Jones and Bailey Zappe. It was his way of shutting down all that drama. Time to let it play out. And of course have all our takes in-between.

  • Free Agent Pitch

    Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    When asked what he’d say to prospective free agents about coming to the Patriots, Wolf said: “This is a new program and we’re heading in the right direction. It’s a new era. We have leadership with Jerod Mayo that’s going to be tremendous. He’s just an unbelievable leader and developer of people, and I think that as we move forward with a new offense and defense, it’s going to be pretty special and exciting here.”

    That pitch might work pretty well with guys who would be core players, since they’d be the difference-makers making things special and exciting in the first place. But beyond that, for a lot of free agents, the Patriots are probably going to have to offer the most money.

  • Final Say

    Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the NFL Scouting Combine at Indiana Convention Center. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    By Tuesday, it was an open secret that Wolf was now running the personnel department in New England. But it was refreshing to hear him say it straight out, to confirm that he’ll have the final say on the Patriots’ No. 3 pick in the 2024 draft. Was that so hard?

    Some things don’t need to be so secretive with the media. It can only create more headaches for you. Wolf seemed to minimize the future media headaches with how he handled all the questions.

  • Get complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content.

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