If seventh-round wide receiver Tre Nixon becomes an impact player for the New England Patriots, you can thank Ernie Adams for bringing him aboard.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick allowed Adams, the team’s longtime football research director, to personally choose New England’s final pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, as revealed in a team-produced behind-the-scenes video.
This year’s draft was the last of Adams’ decades-long tenure with the Patriots. The 68-year-old first joined the organization in 1975 and had a hand in dozens of franchise-altering roster decisions.
Before the final pick, Belichick lauded Adams’ career accomplishments to the assembled evaluators in New England’s draft room.
“I just want to take a moment to recognize Ernie,” said Belichick, who first met Adams at Phillips Academy in 1970 and also worked alongside him with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns. “We’ll do this at a more formal time later, but Ernie’s career, especially in the draft room, is legendary. It started in 1976 through all the great players with the Patriots. …
“Ernie, I just want to thank you. As your final draft in the final round, as we go to the final pick, it’s yours. Thank you for all of your contributions, not only here but to the game and to the process of scouting.”
Adams, Belichick said, “literally wrote the book on scouting.”
“The grading scale, the lettering, the numbering, the different classifications of players, the report writing, critical factors — he’s been a part of all that for really four decades,” Belichick said. “So his impact on not only the scouting for me personally in this organization, but honestly through all the people who have been here and left here, as well as obviously some of the acquisition of some of the great players in this organization and some of the championships that have eventually come with them.”
Belichick rattled off a handful of those players: Patriots Hall of Famers Mike Haynes and Stanley Morgan, former Giants stars Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks, the Canton-bound Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and “the famous David Givens selection, which was totally Ernie.”
“He was given a stack of books, and he pulled David Givens out, and that was a pretty good pick,” Belichick recalled, smiling.
Drafted in the seventh round (253rd overall) in 2002, Givens caught nearly 200 passes and scored seven postseason touchdowns over his four seasons with the Patriots, two of which ended in Super Bowl victories.
If Nixon — drafted Saturday with the 242nd pick — even approaches that production, Adams’ final draft decision will have been a smashing success.