The New England Patriots put a lot of stock into interviewing prospects prior to the NFL draft.
The Patriots made headlines when they brought Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M signal-caller Johnny Manziel to Gillette Stadium on the same day for official pre-draft visits. The process of interviewing players is the same for any position, however, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio detailed Tuesday at Gillette Stadium.
“Let’s say there’s a player you talk to at an all-star game. You have on exposure there with someone from your personnel department,” Caserio said. “Then you have the combine and you have another dialogue with them. Maybe it’s a position coach, or Bill, or myself. Then you go out in the spring, and then you work them out. Let’s say you try to teach them your system, install some of your system, go through their role. ‘OK, here’s this play, here’s your assignment.’ And then you have that same player, and you bring them to your facility. Then you’re looking at his recall. How do they handle the information that we gave him? Is it the same story he gave one coach?
“It’s not one 15-minute combine interview and you say, ‘OK, well, we’ve got it all straight.’ That’s really just an introduction. In some cases, maybe you’ve had some exposure at different points along the way.
“Really, what we’re trying to figure out, within the confines of this building, will he be able to handle the demands of our program on a day-to-day basis?. And really, that’s what you’re trying to get to. You try to dig in as best you can, as much as you can on a variety of different topics and areas. And the football component is a huge part of that process, just in terms of their learning capacity, in terms of their ability to actually play it in your system.”
Caserio said hosting some of the draft’s top quarterback prospects is normal for the Patriots. When asked if they’re trying to groom a replacement for quarterback Tom Brady, Caserio would only say the team wants to win.
“It’s all with the idea of trying to gain as much information about that position group top to bottom,” Caserio said about the quarterbacks. “So, when you’re sitting up there looking at X amount of players, you have a good baseline of information, and it’s not ‘Well, we haven’t spent enough time.’ The answer isn’t ‘I don’t know, we haven’t spent enough time with them.’”
Caserio said there’s only so much a team can glean from what a prospect did in college. So, the Patriots try to figure out how a player learns, rather than what he’s been taught in the past.
“Once a player gets into the NFL, whatever he’s done in college, or whatever he’s done or whatever system he’s played in is really irrelevant,” Caserio said.
“When you meet with a player, you’re trying to see his mental acumen, his capacity to learn, how he processes information, how does he recall. does he need repetitions, is he a visual learner? You’re looking more at their method of learning, more than what they actually are learning.”
It seems the Patriots don’t waste their time during pre-draft visits for due diligence. It takes a lot to play for the Patriots, so Caserio and Bill Belichick are trying to find the best fits for the organization.