Here are Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio’s comments following the first round of the NFL draft:
NC: So you guys still have to write a story for tomorrow? What’s there to write about?
Q: Any leads you can give us?
NC: Well, you know, we had conversations with a few teams. It was an opportunity that we thought made sense for us. It’s an opportunity to add more players to our team. We feel that there are a lot of good players that are still available. We picked up a pick in the second round, picked up another pick in the third round and the fourth round, which we didn’t have, and then got a seventh-round pick which we acquired as part of it as well. In years past, those have been pretty valuable: we took [Alfonzo] Dennard, we’ve taken Julian Edelman, and we’ve taken guys like that. So, we thought it made sense for our football team to make the move and that’s why we did what we did. We feel pretty good going into tomorrow. We have, really, four picks, and we were kind of going into the day potentially having only two picks. We feel that there are football players out there that can help our team. And like we talked about the other day, our whole goal and job is to try to improve the team to help us win games, and we think this effort will hopefully aid in that pursuit.
Q: Is there a player that, once he went off the board, you said, ‘Ok, now let’s look at trade possibilities?’
NC: We had had conversations throughout, I would say, once we got to a certain point there in the middle of the draft. We had has some exchanges back and forth and as we got a little closer there were a few more calls. Minnesota had expressed and interest and we went back and forth and then we decided that this made sense, so we made the move.
Q: But was there one specific player?
NC: From our perspective?
NC: No, like we talked about the other day, we were ready to pick. We had a few players that we actually had in mind that we were going to talk about to consider picking, and then we decided to make the move that we did. So no question, we had players , a player, we would have taken.
Q: Does one of those players remain on the board?
NC: A few of them remain, I would say. A few of them remain. I think if you look at it right now, there’re a lot of good football players. I think there were 11 front-seven players that have gone and I want to say seven defensive backs. I think there were 18 defensive players and there were nine offensive linemen, which this definitely was a deep draft on the offensive line and that was the feeling – at least from our perspective – going in. Only one quarterback went, a couple skill guys went, the one tight end went, so it was, I would say, certainly a defensive-oriented draft and the front seven took precedence, which I would say it does on a yearly basis.
Q: Of the players who remain, is there a chance that you could move up closer to the front of the second round?
NC: Possibly. We’ll see how it goes. I think, based on the number of players that are there, if there are multiple players, then that’s one thing. If some of those players start o come off then we want to make a move up, we have maybe a little more flexibility to do that. I think we’re open to anything at this point, so we’ll have to see how it unfolds tomorrow once we get started.
Q: Did anything surprise you?
NC: To tell you the truth, not really. A lot of the players that were drafted, we had sort of expected that they were going to go, not necessarily in the order in which they did but I wouldn’t say there were too many surprises. I think things kind of fell in place – we knew, like I said, the offensive line was definitely going to be in and as it turned out, we had figured there would be seven or eight guys that were going to be picked – there ended up being nine. The front seven, we figured there would be a fair amount of players that would be picked and that’s the way it turned out, so I wouldn’t say there was too much that was all that surprising about what happened.
Q: Did the Miami move surprise you at all?
NC: You’d have to ask them about that.
Q: Did it surprise you seeing the Dolphins move up that high?
NC: They did what they thought was best for their situation. I think the unique thing was probably Minnesota doing what they did, picking three players in the first round. I don’t know what the stats are, how many times that’s happened in draft history, but probably not that much. If you want to put something that was different in relative terms, that would certainly be one thing.
Q: Do you think that Minnesota having three first round picks prompted them to give up as many picks as they did?
NC: We agreed to terms of the trade, so they were interested in doing it; we thought it made sense so there was a match.
Q: It seems like a big bounty for that pick.
NC: When you talk to [Vikings General Manager] Rick [Spielman], see what he has to say about that.
Q: In terms of the makeup of the draft, would you agree with the assessment that the sweet spot of this draft is the second and third rounds?
NC: I think that we feel that there are players littered throughout this draft. There are certainly a number of good football players that are still up on the board. I think there are some players that potentially could have very easily gone in this round; they haven’t so that’s second, third round. We thought there was some degree of value in the draft. We’re in a situation right now where hopefully we can capitalize on that. It just gives us the flexibility to do a few different things tomorrow.
Q: When did you start talking with Minnesota?
NC: I think it was a pick or two out. We got on the phone and went back and forth. I think it’s very indicative I would say of how trades are consummated. Some teams have discussions before the draft – maybe at the top portion of the draft, like we talked about the other day in here. It’s very similar to what happened to last year’s situation when we made our move up. It was something that we had talked about – that we hadn’t necessarily planned for – we got on the phone. We got on the horn and ended up making the deal. Typically that’s how most trades sort of happen. I think it’s very player specific and it’s player-based, based on the team’s level of interest, the team’s perceived need. And then you come to some agreement and that’s why we ended up doing what we did.
Q: Did you see Joe Andruzzi’s moment up on stage?
NC: I did, yeah. It was neat. We were sitting in there and I think someone asked ‘Are they booing him?’ because we have the feed from our people there. That was a neat moment. I don’t think something like that has happened in the history of the draft. Joe’s a great ambassador for this organization, for this city, in what he’s done. He’s made endless contributions, forget on the football field, but just in terms of his contributions to the organization. I think this was another example of that, with the jersey and the message. I think everybody is still wary and cognizant of what had happened even in light of some of the recent developments over the last few days about the potential impact on New York. It’s a very sensitive sort of subject. Joe’s a great human being. He’s a great ambassador for our program and it was really a cool moment.
Q: How was the tenor of the draft room today?
NC: We’ll go back and we have some time tomorrow, so we’ll kind of get organized here this evening. Just kind of jot down some last minute follow-up notes and then we’ll get ready for the morning, get back at it.
Q: Once Minnesota started talking to you, did you stop communicating with other teams?
NC: No, we were still communicating back and forth with a few teams and that’s just the way it worked out with the Vikings.