Morning sports update: Albert Breer explained how the Patriots’ draft process changed in 2021

"The players the Patriots took were all highly productive college players, and there wasn’t the kind of wild Belichick curveball those who’ve been there got used to."

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick during the 2020 season. Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

The Celtics lost to the Heat on Sunday, 130-124. Boston will face Miami again on Tuesday (at 7:30 p.m.) as they look to reverse the growing gap between the sixth and seventh playoff spots — the cut-off for the play-in tournament — now at two games.

Also on Sunday, the Red Sox defeated the Orioles 4-3.

And the Bruins face the Islanders tonight at TD Garden. The game begins at 7 p.m. and will be played in front of an expanded capacity, with state guidelines officially allowing attendance to climb from 12 percent to 25 as of today.

The Patriots’ revised approach to scouting ahead of the 2021 draft: Heading into the 2021 NFL draft, Bill Belichick and the Patriots faced pressure to change their approach. New England’s recent drafts had not produced a great track record. Even Robert Kraft acknowledged as much.


“I don’t feel like we’ve done the greatest job the last few years and I really hope and believe I’ve seen a different approach this year,” Kraft told reporters before the draft.

Aside from taking a quarterback in the first round — an unprecedented move from Belichick — the Patriots reportedly made some serious changes to their evaluation and decision-making processes.

“I’m not sure if it’s permanent or not,” wrote Albert Breer in his weekly “MMQB” column. “But I do know this year was a whole lot different, with assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, scouting exec Eliot Wolf and national scout Matt Groh moving into more prominent roles in the aftermath of Nick Caserio’s departure for Houston.”

As Breer has noted in the past, Patriots scouts have felt ignored. He offered more on the effect he thinks that’s had on New England’s front office.

“Long story short, plenty of evaluators on that side let their contracts expire, then bolted over the last few offseasons at least in part because there was frustration over the lack of involvement in the draft process,” Breer continued, “and the feeling that Belichick’s own experiences with players and his connections in college coaching too often would trump the information his scouts were giving him.”


The difference this year appears to be a more considerate Belichick, and also a greater involvement from Groh, Ziegler, and Wolf.

“The result to scouts outside the organization was obvious,” Breer noted. “The players the Patriots took were all highly productive college players, and there wasn’t the kind of wild Belichick curveball those who’ve been there got used to (i.e. Jordan Richards or Tavon Wilson in the second round), where the New England coach valued a player way over where the rest of the NFL’s scouting community did.”

Trivia: Who was Bill Belichick’s first ever draft pick made as head coach of the Patriots?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: Offensive lineman from Hawaii.

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Trivia answer: Adrian Klemm

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