New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio spent several minutes speaking with Boston reporters this afternoon.
Here are some highlights from that chat; we'll have more in tomorrow in the Globe and online.
His thought's on this year's draft class:
As usual, I'd say the underclassmen are a big part of it. This is the most amount of underclassmen, I think, that asked for an evaluation from the league...There's depth at more positions relative to others. I'd say receiver is a position of strength. The offensive line's a position of strength. The front seven is a position of strength. A lot of the players, front seven especially that were down at the Senior Bowl, are some of the better players in this draft. I think it's a good draft. Like every year, each position has a little more depth or balance relative to others.
If the Pats are behind in the scouting process after playing into February:
I'd say yes and no. Our scouting staff -- specifically, the college scouting staff -- the college scouts, the area scouts, regional scout Jon Robinson, has spent a significant amount of time on the road this fall. Since August basically, through November and December, whenever the college season ends. And then our staff was at all the college all-star games, so I would say where we are in terms of the timetable, we're probably about at the same spot. Just as far as maybe as coaches getting involved in the evaluations and some of that process, maybe we're a little bit further behind because of the efforts were geared in another direction. Our scouts have done an outstanding job as far as the preparation goes and the information we have to this point. I think we're still gathering information. Part of the reason that we're all here is because we're gathering information. The interviews and the time you spend with the players is probably more important than -- and I don't want o take away what they do on the field -- but what a guy does in shorts in the end isn't going to be the ultimate determining factor. It's going to be about his performance and then, some of his other dynamics that come into play as well. The makeup and some of the traits that we look for in our players. I think that our staff has done a great job specifically looking for where we are today.
On Wes Welker and whether there's been progress on a new contract for him or a decision on New England franchising him:
I think we’re going through the process and like I said we’ve had conversations with our free agents at different points through the fall, so we’ll continue that dialog. We have until March 13, until free agency begins [to place franchise tag on Welker or another player], so we’ll do our due diligence, we’ll go through the process and we’ll see where we end up.
On Chad Ochocinco's status with the team:
He's under contract, so if he's under contract, he'll be here.
Has 2011 been put to bed?
I think we’re still going through it. We started some of that when we came back from Indianapolis. We’re still going through it. We’ll go through a player by player analysis, with strengths and weaknesses, kind of a summary of what the player is and what the player, in our opinion, his future is moving forward. We’re still going through that. Schematic review, that’s ongoing, the self-scout. We’ll go through and look at all the runs, all the passes, you’ll go through everything. It’s really ongoing. The bulk of the coaches’ time, that’s where it’s going to be allocated – self scout, player evaluation, and then start to get into a little bit of the draft and some of the free agency. I’d say it will be continually ongoing, and by the time we get to the beginning of OTAs, we’ll have a firm grasp of where we are on everything.
Is the Super Bowl mourning period over?
The way I look at it, it’s kind of like another game during the year – win or lose, the next day, ‘here’s what happened’ and then you move on to the next game. We don’t have a next game to move on to. This is the next game, sort of, that’s in town. That’s where we are. We were up and running the following week, in draft meetings with our scouting staff going through these prospects. You have to move on. We’ve moved on and you got to prepare for the next thing that’s in front of you and that’s what we’re going to do.