Bill Belichick was unusually candid in his post-draft news conference Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
Belichick touched on rarely discussed topics such as injuries to veterans and potential position changes. The Patriots head coach even talked about Logan Ryan’s long-rumored switch to safety.
“I think, yeah, we’ll have to see how it all goes,” Belichick said about moving Ryan to safety this spring during organized team activities. “Last year, (Marquice) Cole sort of did that, played some safety, played some nickel corner, played a little bit on the perimeter. Logan did that. We’ll have to see how it all comes together, but I would imagine in the spring that we probably give those guys some exposure. Somebody, I don’t know if all of them. …
“Again, I think there’s definitely a place for that, too, with the different personnel groups and the different types of receivers that we see. Every time it’s three receivers, it isn’t quite three receivers; it depends on who those three guys are and how you want to match up on them and so forth. So some flexibility for us defensively is probably a good thing over a long haul.”
Belichick typically likes to put the best 11 players on the field, even if it means playing someone out of position. Rob Ninkovich has moved from linebacker to defensive end multiple times, and Devin McCourty was stuck in limbo between cornerback and safety for a couple years.
Ryan could be the next versatile player who’s too valuable to keep off the field. Ryan proved to be a playmaker last season, recording five interceptions, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a touchdown in 2013.
Mark Harrison, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last offseason, also provides versatility and eventually could move from wide receiver to tight end. However, Belichick said Harrison to staying put for now.
“I’d say we’re probably looking at Harrison as a receiver,” Belichick said. “He missed almost all of the last year or so. To try to take a guy and move him away from a position before we’ve actually seen the position he actually played — I’m not saying it won’t happen. I don’t think it’s going to happen for a while. We’ll try to get him ready to play receiver and see how he plays there, how he competes with other players at the position, his primary position. That’s more the way I see it.”
Belichick loves versatility, and the Patriots drafted three more players – Georgia Tech defensive back Jemea Thomas, Concordia-St. Paul defensive lineman Zach Moore and Florida State offensive lineman Bryan Stork — who could man multiple positions.