FOXBOROUGH – Patriots coach Bill Belichick held his annual predraft news conference today at Gillette Stadium (noon) and here were a few nuggets of note:
1) Challenging draft when it comes to consensus at the top of each position. Belichick said one area that stands out in this draft, in his view, is the varied rankings he believes teams have for the top players at each position. “In previous years, for the most part, I think if you saw a team coming up and for the most part you thought they were going up for a certain position – you would be able to identify the player they were going up for. If you survey different teams, and you know what’s on their boards, I think there is quite a bit of variation and fluctuation from team to team as to whom the top guys are. I think that makes it a little bit unusual.”
2) Draft stands out for Patriots when it comes to flexibility. Belichick said he couldn’t remember a draft where he entered with the same amount of potential flexibility. He contrasted it to last year, when the Patriots had the No. 7 pick and the No. 62 pick. “We felt it would be very hard to move far from those two spots, and in fact we didn’t,” he said (they traded down from 7 to 10). “This year, if you go by the generic trade charts – the charts that pretty much everyone used or has access to – if you do the numbers we could probably trade a combination of our picks and in the first round get up as high as 10.” Later, Belichick talked about his hope to use the picks productively “whatever way that is.”
3) Team is near the finish line with preparations. Belichick described the team as 90-95 percent through the predraft process. He said this week is about going over potential scenarios in the draft, talking about strategy. It is standard operating procedure this week to contact other teams – or be contacted by other clubs -- in gauging possible trade interest. Belichick said there already have been discussions with teams “who see our multiple picks and have interest in acquiring two for one.”
4) Going to be a challenge to find another Jerod Mayo. When asked if it was realistic to find another Jerod Mayo (10th overall in 2008) in this year’s draft, Belichick showered praise on the team’s first-round pick from last year. "Jerod is a pretty special player. I don't know how many players there are like him year in and year out, in the draft, guys who will come in and lead your team in tackles, play in every game, and be as mature and be the kind of leader, and be the kind of consistent, steady performer that Jerod was from Day 1 through the last day of the regular season and every day in between," he said. "I feel like we're really lucky to have Jerod."
5) Business as usual for Belichick. Going through the predraft process for the first time in New England without his right-hand man Scott Pioli, Belichick said the process has not changed much, although he’s missed the personal and work-based connection he had with Pioli. Belichick noted the addition of senior football adviser Floyd Reese, and how his “ton of experience” has been added to the process. As for director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Belichick said: “Nick is on top of it. He saw all the guys in the fall and did a lot of work in the spring. I’ve worked closely with Nick in the past. Nick has done a great job. I think he’s very on top of the entire draft and the people under him. They’ve been very good at acquiring and providing the information that I think we need.” Belichick also noted the contributions of director of college scouting Jon Robinson and director of pro personnel Jason Licht.