The Patriots’ newly promoted director of player personnel has yet to address reporters since his role change, but he did sit down for an interview with New England’s in-house production team ahead of the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
Matt Groh, who replaces Dave Ziegler as the Patriots’ top personnel man behind head coach/de facto general manager Bill Belichick, offered some general thoughts on the team’s offseason approach as free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draw closer.
“I think (this time of year) means a little bit something different for everybody, depending on what your role is,” Groh said in a video posted on Patriots.com. “There’s some of us here who are going to continue to really drill down on these players. We’ve got pro days to go through and that whole process. The pro guys (are) working through free agency.”
Groh has been with the Patriots since 2011, working his way up from scouting assistant to director of college scouting before taking on his current position after Ziegler left to become GM of the Las Vegas Raiders. He’ll spearhead New England’s scouting team at this week’s NFL combine, with Belichick expected to make a “cameo” in Indianapolis, per a report from Pro Football Focus’s Doug Kyed.
“It’s not the finish line here for these prospects, but it means we’re getting close,” Groh said. “Really an interesting part of it is for so long in this process, these guys were just jersey numbers out on the field, so to be able to go to the combine, speak with these kids, get to know them a little bit more as men, as people, rather than just a number or a skill set or whatnot is really an enjoyable process.”
While undoubtedly important to a prospect’s overall evaluation, Groh said the combine is “just another part of the puzzle” as the Patriots piece together their final draft board.
“It’s not, ‘Oh my goodness, this guy was terrible at the combine; we’ve got to just crush him down,’ ” he said. “‘Oh, this guy was great; we’ve got to throw him up there on the board.’ We just take all the information and evaluate it and put it together as part of the puzzle and go from there to try to make the best decisions.”
Neither Belichick nor Groh is scheduled to speak with the media during combine week — standard operating procedure for the Patriots’ top decision-makers. The head coach and/or GM for every other NFL team will hold a news conference in Indy.
Linebacker, cornerback, wide receiver and offensive tackle (in some order) currently headline the Patriots’ list of draft needs, which could shift based on how they proceed in NFL free agency. Teams can begin finalizing trades and signing external free agents when the new league year opens March 16.