Patriots coach Bill Belichick reflected on the NFL draft. Here are his comments in full.
BB: It's been kind of a long day here. It started off with Josh [Boyce] in the fourth round. Josh had a good career at TCU. Really top kid, strong, tough, fast. Heís had good production down there. We had him as a receiver there at the top of the round then we had quite a bit of time on our hands. During that time, we ended up working out the deal with Tampa for LeGarrette [Blount] and we're excited to have him here. I think heís a good football player. Heís had a lot of production. I think he got into a situation last year where they obviously went with [Doug] Martin, but I think this guy is a good football player, weíre happy to add him to our team. And then we took [Michael] Buchanan from Illinois. Heís had a good, productive career at Illinois. Heís played with a lot of good pass rushers up there. Heís had production every year in a good conference, a steady player. And finally of course, Steve Beauharnais, whoís been a middle linebacker at Rutgers Ė another real productive guy, a real smart, football guy. Weíre battling away on the free agents Ė a lot of those guys out there. Of course itís kind of fast and furious with the post-draft signings, with all 32 teams trying to go after a lot of the same guys. Weíll see how that plays out, but weíre slugging it out there. Hopefully by Monday weíll be able to get back to normal, get them in here next weekend and start rolling in rookie minicamp and have a good month, month and a half of catching everybody up and start putting the team together on the field. Instead of just a bunch of names on the board, weíll actually see how it looks out there on the football field doing football. [Iím ] looking forward to that too.
In the NFL Network interview, you talked about a re-do at the wide receiver position, with the two guys you drafted and Danny Amendola coming in. How rare is a potential wholesale change?
BB: I donít know, but look at the guys who have caught balls at that position and we donít have a lot of them on our team. [Julian] Edelman and then a couple balls here and there, so weíll see how it all comes together. I donít know.
Is there any part of it thatís invigorating for the coaching staff to get with a new group and try to get them up to where you want?
BB: Yeah, sure. Every year is exciting; every year is challenging. Weíve gone through that with other positions on our team. We did that with the tight end position a couple years ago. We did it at the running back position when that turned over. Certainly, almost the entire defense has turned over, other than Vince [Wilfork]. The specialists all turned over; other than Steve [Gostkowski], they all turned over a couple years ago. Itís part of football.
What is the thread among all three Rutgers players? Is it the school and the program and the coaching that you know of and you're familiar with, or is it not pieced together? Are there individual reasons that tie together somehow?
BB: I think certainly itís coincidental to a degree. But I just would say that the players Ė I mean, Iíve known Coach [Greg] Schiano for quite a while. I'd say the players he recruits and the program he runs is in a lot of ways similar to what we do. So the fact that heís recruited those kids four to five years ahead of when they come into this league and they've been in a program thatís, in a lot of ways, probably similar to ours, then itís probably not that surprising that we would like some of the kids heís produced, both talent-wise and total makeup. I would say certainly with this group, these three guys, theyíre all very bright. Football is important to them. Theyíve all been productive. Theyíre unselfish players. They work hard for the team. They do a lot of little things in the game like communication and special teams and all those types of things. So thereís a common thread: theyíre football guys that work hard at it, that have had good careers there and that continue to get better because it's important to them. And theyíre smart, instinctive players.
How much of a head start in your system does it give those three players?
BB: I donít know. Weíll have to get them in our system and let them start playing and learning and get some reps out there and see how it goes. I donít know. Iím going to coach them all the same, give them all the same opportunity, and evaluate what they do. I canít make any predictions or projections on anybody.
Did Josh Boyce do something at the combine that maybe helped his cause?
BB: Well, for everybody it's their whole mosaic. It's a big jigsaw puzzle; itís a lot of pieces that go together. I don't think thereís any one thing. Josh has been a productive player. I think our grades were consistently, on all the scouts that saw him, pretty consistent. So I don't think we saw him a lot differently from one scout to another, from one year to another or from one part of a year to another or at the combine or at the training camp or during the season or all those things. Heís been pretty consistent all the way through, more so than other guys we could use as examples. He had a strong combine but heís been a good player in a good conference. He's been productive. I think he does a lot of things well.
Is it common to get a lot of consistency from all your scouts on one player?
BB: I would think it depends on the player. If the playerís consistent, I think itís common. If the guy is, for whatever reason not, then you see a lot of fluctuation. Sometimes that could be scheme changes or injuries or something thatís nagging him. It could be a guy who gains experience and does better. It could be a guy who maybe is a senior or whatever the circumstances are, slumps a little bit or his production slows down. Especially at the receiver position, we know a lot of that is a function of the quarterback. Sometimes that looks like itís reflected in the receiver but a lot of times there are other things going on or a change in offensive scheme and things like that. Theyíre all different. I think we have plenty of guys that are consistent and then there are other guys who some things are better than others. Some are strong at one thing, not so strong at another. Itís harder for a scout to evaluate that. Do you evaluate the good things? How much do you take down the down things? Can you straighten out the things that arenít good or are the things that are good more circumstantial? Are they going to be able to translate to the next level? Are his strong points going to outweigh his weak points? Are weak points going to outweigh his strong points? You get all types.
Is there any advantage to having a football player or athlete that has excelled at another sport?
BB: I donít know.
Do you like athletes who played other sports and succeeded?
BB: Some do, plenty donít. Itís part of the whole puzzle. Itís one piece. Maybe it shows their versatility or their competitiveness or something. Weíve had guys that have done that. Steve Gostkowski was like that. Lawyer [Milloy] was like that. They end up in one sport or another but I donít know. Wrestling Ė Steve Neal. Some of those guys have. I could probably name just as many guys that have and didnít do well, so I donít know. Certainly I think depending on the sport you can see the strengths in that area. [Jeff] Demps was fast, Neal had good balance. [Tom] Bradyís throwing mechanics are pretty good so maybe there is a correlation in a particular skill from one sport.
Who is going to work most closely with the new receivers?
BB: It will probably depend on what we happen to be emphasizing. Chad [OíShea] of course. There will be other guys involved with them. When theyíre involved in the kicking game, it will be Scott [OíBrien] and Joe [Judge].
Brian Daboll maybe a little bit?
BB: Sure, we didnít bring him here to tape ankles. Heís going to be involved with different guys. Josh [McDaniels] will be involved with the players and Iím sure Iíll be involved with them to some degree.
Where do you see Jamie Collins? Do you see him initially as an edge player or do you see him at linebacker?
BB: Thatís a good question. I have my own personal opinion on that. Weíll try him at different things and see how it all comes together. I think if heís versatile and Iíll use Rob [Ninkovich] as an example Ė I think thatís a good one. If he can do multiple things and do them at a high level, maybe heíll go where heís needed or maybe heíll go where heís best. I donít know. A lot of times that happens on the offensive line. You have your five best players out there. Maybe one guy would be better at another position, but to get the best five out there, a guy has to play maybe his second best position. It may happen with Jamie, it may not. Iím not sure. Itís similar to what we did with [Dontía] Hightower last year. There are a lot of things he did, what he ended up doing and with Ninkovich for that matter. What Rob did one year and what he did another year and what he might do from game to game, it could be a little bit different. Maybe thatís their role and maybe it isnít. Maybe theyíll do a little bit more of one thing. Weíll just have to let that play out.
On the trade for LeGarrette Blount, were you looking for a bigger, power back or were you just trying to add another running back?
BB: I think we felt like we had an opportunity to get a good player at a price we thought was fair, good value for what we gave up and so thatís why we did it. Our job is to acquire good football players Ė thatís what weíre in the business of. When you can get a good football player and the price is right Ė if we can afford the price, depending on what it is, whether thatís financial or compensation, depending on what the trade terms are. Itís all tied in together. If itís a good player at the right price and itís affordable then you have to consider it. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they donít but in this case it did.
Was he primarily short yardage and goal line last year with Tampa Bay?
BB: No, I would just say [Doug] Martin really became their guy. When he played, I wouldnít say he was limited in that role. Certainly his first two years he wasnít.
Steve Beauharnais is the same size as Tracy White. Do you see any of him in Beauharnais?
BB: No. Well, yes, but no, not really. I see them as different players.
On Demps, was track the reason it just didnít work out?
BB: We just felt the overall trade was good for our football team. Any time you get something, you have to give up something Ė or most of the time. You usually donít get something for nothing. We gave up something and we got something. We feel good about what we got. Iím sure Tampa feels good about what they got so thatís why it was done.
Whatís the feeling now that the draft is over?
BB: Itís still grinding away. Weíre working through the free agent process, guys after the draft. I think thatís been an important part of our team through the years. Once again, last year we had several players either make our team or make our practice squad or in a couple cases, some combination of both. Maybe they were on one or the other for part of the year, but other guys came in that werenít drafted and contributed to our team, like [Marcus] Forston, like [Brandon] Bolden, Justin Francis and other guys like that in the past Ė the Brian Hoyers and the Mike Wrights, you can go right on down the list. So thatís still an important time in the team building process. Weíre grinding away at that. Iím sure there will be a lot of player movement in the next week or so. Players that are getting released after the draft after teams have filled their needs or acquired people or whatever happens. Then itís going into phase two of our offseason program with players that are here, which means we can start working with players on the field, which we havenít been able to do. That will be part of it. Rookie mini-camp at the end of the week, that will be indoctrination for those guys and then Monday, May 13, thatís when weíll be able to bring the rookies in and let them get involved in everything. Weíll go into that and OTAs and get ready for training camp. Itís a day-by-day process. Hopefully we can take each one of the days going forward and make our team better, whether itís on the field with our current players, whether itís some kind of player movement, acquisition, transition, to get our team in a competitive situation for training camp. Once itís integrating the whole team on the field during the OTAs, then itís doing that. All those steps that lead up to that are important. The further along our team is now, the further along that rookies are when they come in, the better quality weíll have in our OTA practices. The better quality we have in our OTA practices, the more ready weíll be for training camp.
Is there something about the wide receiver position specifically that makes it a greater challenge for new players to catch up to players who have been here?
BB: I would say that a lot of players that have come here, however theyíve come here, have usually commented on the amount or the learning or the adjustments, something, the pace. Iím not coaching any other team in the league so I donít know what the other 31 teams do, but I would say that a lot of the players who come here feel challenged at that position based onÖlook, weíve had an offense thatís been in place for 13, 14 years now. It evolves a bit every year, maybe gets modified a little bit, but itís grown. Itís certainly Ė it has a lot more breadth to it than it did in 2000, 2001, 2002. That means a new guy coming in has to learn Ė to a degree Ė 12, 13 years of stuff instead of a guy thatís coming in and learning the system from scratch with a new coach and that type of thing. It probably is a lot. I think thatís challenging. The move from college football to pro football is a pretty big jump in terms of protections, coverages, blitzes and all those kind of things. You watch a lot of college film, sometimes you only see one or two coverages. You donít see that in this league.
Is that something you have to be cognizant of as you try to integrate new players? When Michael Lombardi was at NFL Network he made the comparison to Dan Marino at the end of his careers and they had trouble getting new receivers to play.
BB: Sure. I think thatís a balance you have toÖwhen you put new stuff in, you have to usually take something out. You just canít keep adding, adding, adding. At some point you have to trim the fat. Itís a balance, but at the same time you donít want to take that experience and not take new plays or new adjustments or new things that you do and be able to utilize those skills, because a lot of the players can do it but you have to try to catch the younger guys up. Again, weíve done that at a lot of different positions. Weíve turned over the tight end position, weíve turned over the running back position, and weíve turned over a number of the positions on the offensive line. Now weíre doing it at receiver. I think itís a little bit of you have to figure it out as you go. You have a plan, you try to do it a certain way but as you get into it, you see how itís going and what certain players are able to do or how quickly theyíre able to adapt and whatís taking longer. You modify your teaching; sometimes you modify your scheme a little bit. Obviously, some of the things we do with Rob [Gronkowski] and Aaron [Hernandez] are different than what we did with some of the other guys we had here. Some of the things we do now are a little different than what we did when we had Kevin Faulk. The team is always in transition to a degree. You have try to figure out where you want to go and how to try and get there. Usually you have to change things as you go along a little bit.