Asked to assess his draft, Bill Belchick slyly smiled and said: “It was fine. When they schedule them we are there. When it’s our turn to pick we’ll turn them in. I’ve done them in one day. I’ve done them in two days. I’ve done them in three days. Whatever it is it is.”
Pressed, he said a little more.
“I think we definitely improved our team, so did everyone else in the league,” Belichick said. “Hopefully, our rate of improvement can be equal to or maybe a little bit better than some of the other ones. We hope. We picked ahead of some teams. We picked behind some teams. We’ll see how all that comes together. But we had our opportunities and we tried to do the best with them that we could for our football team.
“We’ll see how all of that turns out, but we’re definitely better and we’ll have guys that will help our football team. It’s exciting to work with them. There will also be some free agents that hopefully we’ll sign in the next day or so by the time we get into next week.”
Here are some more things to take from his wrapup press conference with the media …
Dueling rookie tight ends: Belichick said that the team was surprised to see Florida TE Aaron Hernandez there at 113th overall. It gives the Patriots two rookie at a position of major need — With Hernandez joining second-round pick Rob Gronkowski.
“I think Aaron has shown more ability to play off the line of scrimmage and extend it from the formation,” Belichick said. “Rob’s also done some of that. He’s bigger than Aaron is. Aaron’s probably a little quicker and has had a little more production in the passing game. Rob’s probably had a little more production in the running game over the course of their careers.”
Sizing up the division competition: You’ll see more about this in tomorrow’s paper, but Belichick did discuss how much he really keeps an eye on AFC East foes and drafts accordingly. His direct reference to Brandon Marshall was at least a little interesting.
“I don’t think you can build your football team that way,” Belichick said. “If you had, when the Jets changed coaches last year, Buffalo changes coaches this year and Miami changes coaches two years ago, you’d be changing your team every year or two actually if that happened. I think right now what you’re not trying to do is to build your team the best you can for what you believe in, for what your program is and what your scheme is.
“There’s got to be some modification to adapt to other players and the players that have come into our division — the Brandon Marshalls of the world. But you’ve got to be able to go out there and play against everybody, so I think it’s more about that than it is about matching up against certain opponents this time of year.”
The Warren report: Belichick said that the signing of Gerard Warren was not a direct result of not drafting defensive lineman. As for the kind of player New England’s getting, and where he’ll play on the line …
“He’s played all over,” Belichick said. “He’s played for the Raiders: he’s played 3-technique, he’s played 1-technique. For the Browns, he was an inside player. He usually played inside the tackles. In Denver, they moved him around a little bit as well. So I think that he’s a guy that can really play from the tackle in. Like Damione Lewis, Ty Warren and Vince [Wilfork], guys like that, I don’t think you’re going to see him outside of the tackles very often.
“But from tackle to tackle, I think they can play from head-up-to-tackle to head-up-to-center and all of the spots in between.”
Leading the way: One thing this draft class seems to be rife with is college leaders. A number of them were captains and while Belichick said that wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t exactly an accident either.
“I think players that are good players, but also have traits such as leadership, work ethic, good communications skills, toughness and those things end up being players who are elected leaders and representatives of their team,” he said. “A lot of times those follow each other. I mean we didn’t go into the draft and say we just want to draft guys who were captains of their team.
“Certainly, the fact that they do that and put that together with the rest of the skills they have certainly add up for the players favor and a higher value for us.”
… One other quick note here: Belichick said that his final pick, Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson, will stay at quarterback. I figured because he had some open-field skills shown in the spread offense he operated as a Cowboy, Robinson may project to receiver. But Belichick said he’ll stick to quarterbacking, for now.
Alright, about to get out of here. Thanks to everyone for checking in, and emailing and commenting and participating in our chats. Hope you guys had as good a time with all this as we did.