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Bill Belichick grades draft prospects by projection, not by round

Posted by Erik Frenz  March 7, 2014 05:00 AM

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick often uses the word "value" to explain any decision his team makes, particularly in the draft. The only problem is, we don't have any idea what he perceives as value.

If you find yourself questioning a decision Belichick has made in the draft, it's probably because he defines value differently than those in the media portray value.

Former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage served as a scout and a defensive assistant under Belichick in the mid-'90s. As a result of his working relationship with Belichick, Savage has some rare first-hand insight on how Belichick grades the prospects in the draft.

Savage revealed that Belichick was hesitant to allow his scouts to place such ambiguous grades on a player when they did not have the full context of all the prospects available:

Instead of leaving too much to the imagination, Belichick wanted an individual projection on each player, and how far they'd be in their development at certain stages of their career:

This helps give us an idea of why they may have passed on certain players in the past, or why they've "reached" on others. Perhaps where some people saw a first-round grade, the Patriots saw a future backup. Maybe where some people placed a fifth-round grade on a player, the Patriots viewed him as a second-year starter.

Savage clarifies that the perception of value, and how it is labeled, is differentiated between the scouts and the front office:

Savage said that these grades are not reflective of need, and that the evaluations are made as if the team is an expansion club.

Spinning forward to this year, it becomes even harder to believe the Patriots will spend a first-round pick on a player who projects as anything but a three-down contributor. Those are usually the players that earn the top spot on the Patriots' depth chart.

Even if we all somehow manage to get our heads fully wrapped around Belichick's perception of value in the draft, the Patriots will probably still find a way to do something that surprises us.




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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »

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