In his conference call with reporters last week, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft acknowledged his team has not drafted well of late. He also said he’s seen a “different approach” this year.
Breer reported Monday that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is being “more collaborative” with New England scouts and other evaluators as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches.
“My sense right now is that has translated inside the building in a more collaborative Belichick, whoâs listening not just to his top guys, Dave Ziegler and Eliot Wolf, but also those rising through the organization, like national scout Matt Groh,” Breer wrote. “Now, I donât know if itâll change the Patriotsâ luck on draft day. Or if Belichick will pull back on it when we get there. But for now, it feels like a good positive step for them.”
Belichick traditionally has employed a “very closed-off” approach to pre-draft evaluation, Breer wrote, which, while largely successful over the course of his two decades in New England, has “led to personnel people feeling like they were actively cut out where other teamsâ people werenât.”
“It also, as some saw it, led to misses like NâKeal Harry in 2019,” he continued. “Harry killed his 30 visit that spring and had a college coach, Todd Graham, who was close to Belichick. In that end, without more input from scouts who preferred Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown, the coach wound up leaning on his own experience with Harry, rather than the red flags his scouts planted, and lost a golden opportunity to fill a hole on his roster.”
It’s worth noting Wolf and Groh have been present at the pro days of several top quarterback prospects in recent weeks, with the former watching Justin Fields at Ohio State and Zach Wilson at BYU and the latter traveling to North Dakota State to see Trey Lance.