This Bill Belichick Comment Should Give Fans Confidence For 2022 Draft

'He's as good as anybody we've had in that position'

by

March 29

The New England Patriots nailed their draft in 2021.

With their eight selections, they landed an immediate starting quarterback (Mac Jones), a building-block defensive tackle (Christian Barmore) and a running back who looks like a star in the making (Rhamondre Stevenson), plus a few promising prospects who could contribute in Year 2 (Ronnie Perkins, Cameron McGrone, etc.).

It was a much-needed rebound for a franchise that had struggled to draft impact players over the previous half-decade — and, as a result, had needed to patch its various roster holes with expensive veterans. But one strong draft class can’t singlehandedly support a team.

As team owner Robert Kraft said Tuesday, the Patriots need another “great draft” this year to further solidify their foundation of young talent.

“That’s the only way you can build your team for the long term and consistently that you have a chance of winning is having a good draft,” Kraft told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Fla.

There’s no way to guarantee success in a given NFL draft, as each carries a level of randomness and luck that no team can fully control. But head coach Bill Belichick sounds confident in the Patriots’ draft preparation apparatus.

Belichick altered New England’s pre-draft scouting process last year to make it more collaborative, giving more credence to his top lieutenants’ opinions. Among those lieutenants was director of college scouting Matt Groh, who recently was promoted to director of player personnel after Dave Ziegler accepted the Las Vegas Raiders’ general manager job.

Speaking Monday in Palm Beach, Belichick raved about Groh, essentially saying the 41-year-old constructed the Patriots’ 2021 draft board.

“Matt’s done a tremendous job for us,” Belichick told reporters in his first offseason news conference. “Very smart, very detailed. Obviously has a great football background with his dad (former NFL and college head coach Al Groh), his family. He’s grown up in football. He’s scouted multiple areas for us, has had multiple responsibilities from area scouts on the West Coast and the Southeast, regional scout, national scout.

“He really put the draft together last year as the director of college scouting, and with Dave leaving, I feel like he’s the best person to step into the personnel job. He’s done a great job. He’s as good as anybody we’ve had in that position.”

Seeing as each of the Patriots’ last two directors of player personnel (Ziegler and Nick Caserio) now are NFL GMs, that’s high praise for Groh, who’s been with the organization since 2011.

While Groh’s new position won’t exclusively focus on college scouting, he’ll continue to play a leading role in New England’s draft prep alongside Wolf (who was promoted to director of scouting), new college scouting director Camren Williams and, of course, Belichick. Assistant coach/advisor Matt Patricia also has been spotted on the pro day circuit alongside Belichick and Groh.

The Patriots currently own seven 2022 draft picks, including No. 21 overall, and enter draft season with several clear roster needs. Among those: cornerback, wide receiver, linebacker, guard, offensive tackle and edge rusher.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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