How Patriots Changed Draft Approach Under New Scouting Leadership Team

The Patriots' 2021 NFL Draft looked downright normal


May 10, 2021

Bill Belichick might be changing his ways 21 years into his tenure as New England Patriots head coach. Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?

The Patriots took a more “collaborative approach” to the draft this year, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote Monday morning. That could be one reason New England took more productive college players rather than overvaluing “traits,” Breer wrote.

Belichick also was in his office more this spring and “held more formal draft meetings,” per Breer.

With former Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio hired away as the Houston Texans’ general manager, Dave Ziegler, Eliot Wolf and Matt Groh took on more responsibility in New England’s scouting department. Belichick also said former Detroit Lions head coach (and Patriots defensive coordinator) Matt Patricia also was a big part of the process.

New England largely followed consensus draft rankings in selecting its 2021 NFL Draft class and avoided any major perceived reaches. Here’s where New England’s draft picks ranked on The Athletic’s consensus big board:

Alabama QB Mac Jones (15th overall pick): 27th
Alabama DT Christian Barmore (38th overall pick): 26th
Oklahoma EDGE Ronnie Perkins (96th overall pick): 64th
Oklahoma RB Rhamondre Stevenson (120th overall pick): 130th
Michigan LB Cameron McGrone (177th overall pick): 113th
Missouri S Joshuah Bledsoe (188th overall pick): 207th
Colorado OT William Sherman (197th overall pick): 287th
UCF WR Tre’ Nixon (242nd overall pick): Not in top 300

Time will tell if New England’s new strategy will be more effective. The Patriots have been one of the NFL’s best drafting teams in Belichick’s tenure as head coach, though they have struggled to select top talent over the last five years.

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