Patriots

What Bill Belichick had to say ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft

The Patriots will have 12 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is becoming better acquainted with technology as a result of the league’s new restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m certainly better at it than I was four weeks ago,” Belichick said during a conference call earlier this week. “I mean, I didn’t know what half of this was. But, at least now I can do more than I did, let’s put it that way.”

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The Patriots hold 12 picks in this year’s draft, which is set to begin Thursday, April 23. The NFL elected to move forward the originally scheduled dates, despite the league-instituted travel restrictions. Belichick, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, and the rest of the scouting department will all be working from their respective homes, with no opportunity for in-person workouts or interviews.

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The team will instead rely on virtual workouts and video conferencing to help inform their decisions. Belichick, who called his technology expertise “remedial,” credited Patriots IT specialist Dan Famosi with getting the group up to speed.

“I get a little better every day — learn a new button or learn a new thing to click on and see what trick that does,” Belichick said. “It’s been very, very educational as a first floor, maybe even the basement — I’ve lived below the first floor. It’s been interesting to get educated on different technologies.”

Because New England’s season ended in the wild card round of the playoffs, Belichick noted the team is a bit “further ahead” in its evaluation of draft prospects. He estimated he’s watched more film than in years past, and spoken to as many, if not more, players as he typically does.

The expectation is that the Patriots will draft a quarterback, after parting ways with longtime starter Tom Brady and releasing third-stringer Cody Kessler. Belichick said the 2020 class is “similar to most” in that there’s a range of talent from a range of systems.

“Certainly, there’s a lot of interesting players and guys who have really good arms [and] can really throw the ball,” Belichick said. “Interesting group and probably one that has decent depth to it.”

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The Patriots currently have two quarterbacks, 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and 34-year-old Brian Hoyer, on their roster. Belichick said he and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have “a pretty good feel” for the pair, and both players will get a chance to compete for the starting gig. Should the team draft a quarterback, the incoming rookie would presumably be in the mix as well.

“Whoever the quarterback is, we’ll try to make things work smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths and his skills,” Belichick said. “The things that either he doesn’t do well or needs more experience at or whatever the case might be, then we’ll try to minimize or until those things improve [and] work around them.”

The uncertainty at quarterback doesn’t change how the team is scouting other positions, according to Belichick. He said the team is always focused on establishing the fundamentals, whether that be in pass protection, the running game, or receiving. The uncertainty with the offseason schedule, however, slightly complicates things, but Belichick’s approach is simple: Maximize whatever opportunity is presented to the team.

Up until Monday, Belichick said the scouting department’s focus was learning as much as possible about the prospects. Now, in the final days leading up to the draft, the group will begin to hone in on strategy.

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“You have a better idea of what the options are and where you’d be comfortable doing certain things,” Belichick said. “We have a lot of draft picks. Some of them are kind of more in a certain area.”

New England’s highest pick is No. 23 overall, followed by three third-rounders, a fourth-rounder, four sixth-rounders, and three seventh-rounders. The team does not have a second-round selection because the pick was included in last season’s trade for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.

“We have a little bit of a void there in the second round, although that player, Sanu, filled a need for us, so that’s OK,” Belichick said. “In terms of just the draft strategy and so forth, things start to pick up here in the next probably — I don’t know — around the weekend or maybe after the weekend in the two or three days leading up to the draft.”

ESPN and NFL Network will broadcast all three days of the draft.

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