FOXBORO, Mass. — If you think the New England Patriots need to select a quarterback, offensive tackle and linebacker in the 2018 NFL Draft, then head coach Bill Belichick probably disagrees with you.
“The whole draft need thing is — I don’t really understand that,” Belichick said Friday during his pre-draft news conference at Gillette Stadium. “You put a card up on the board, that doesn’t mean the guy is a good player. I think it’s important to acquire good players wherever they are. You take a player at a position you so-called need but he’s not good enough to fill that need, then it’s a wasted pick. I don’t really understand the whole need thing. I understand player value, and that’s what we try to go by.”
So, don’t expect the Patriots to blindly select, say, an offensive tackle in the first round just because they are looking to replace Nate Solder as their starting left tackle. The value has to be there. And in the long term, taking the best player available probably will help the team more than trying to fill a short-term need.
The Patriots don’t like to box themselves into drafting a particular position early, which is why they add so many veterans during the offseason. The only position the Patriots truly might need to draft later this month is a quarterback to serve as the heir apparent to starter Tom Brady. And that player could come off the board anywhere from the first to third round.
The Patriots certainly could use more depth and competition at a number of positions, including offensive tackle and linebacker, but they won’t force the issue.