ESPN.com hosted a draft party recently, where Patriots Senior Adviser Floyd Reese gave a 15 minute speech. Reese's main position with the team is to help with personnel scouting- basically finding players that best fit the Patriots needs, whether it be by the draft, free agency or trade. His 15 minute speech was mainly focused on draft techniques and how the Patriots are prepared heading into the draft. Mike Reiss gave some highlights at the previous links- and here they are:
1. The value of the combine and Pro Days has changed because prospects spend so much time preparing for them. The 40-yard dashes that players run in those settings are probably the fastest they will ever run, Reese said, and that must be taken into consideration in the overall evaluation of the player.
With so many players treating the combine and pro day as track and field events, it's important to realize that these players aren't at football conditions- they're at a dog show. While Trindon Holliday and Jacoby Ford may seem interested prospects due to their almost-Olympic speed, it's clear that these players aren't expected to run this quickly on the field, in pads, during the regular season. Unlike the Raiders, it's good that the Patriots take 40 times with a grain of salt.
More of the speech after the jump!
2. Reese said how cleanly a player goes through drills at the combine and Pro Day is looked at closely because teams know the prospects have been preparing for them for more than three months. If prospects don’t go through the drill cleanly, that can speak as loudly as the time the prospect registers on the clock.
Players can be taught how to run a fast 40 times- just as they can be taught to run a quick drill time. However, teaching could involve teaching corner cutting as the prospects try and have the lowest time as possible. The Patriots are looking for players who show consistently clean technique throughout the drill- which shows that their technique more closely resembles how they play at full speed and appears less like a combine robot.
3. The quality of a draft varies considerably from year to year. This year’s draft is strong and deep. "There are a lot of good players," Reese said. "With our first four picks, we will get really good football players."
Reese states that the Patriots will get "really good football players" from their first four picks. That initially leads us to think that we're going to be using our first four picks. However, reading between the lines could mean that the Patriots are looking to trade down- again. Because "there are a lot of good players," the Patriots could be trading down "with [their] first four picks" to get as many picks as possible and "get really good football players." Those football players could end up being five or six really good players stemming from our first four picks.
4. Decisions on what players will be targeted are being made now. "We don’t wait until draft day, because on draft day, you’re only looking for the unexpected," he said. All scenarios have been dissected numerous times, weeks in advance.
The front office and draft team already know potential trades they'll make. They already know which players they'll be looking for if they trade down. They know what players other teams might trade up for. They know which teams are interested in which players already on the Patriots team- players that could give us more picks (Adalius Thomas?). Look for a well played draft, like last year, except maybe two rookie starters instead of one.
5. The strategy of this year’s draft will be different because of the three-day set-up. Because of the two overnight breaks – with the second round leading off Day 2 and the fourth round leading off Day 3 – those rounds could feature more trade activity.
Due to the second round being on a separate day from the first round, look for the second round to be treated like a first round. Teams will reset their draft boards and will have a night to sleep on potential draft day trades- trades that could greatly benefit the Patriots with their three 2nd round picks. As I stated before, look for the Patriots to greatly benefit from teams trading up for players they want.
6. In the first season without a salary cap, the idea that there would be wild spending by some teams hasn’t come to fruition. This is a result of all teams showing they can effectively manage themselves without the cap, which is something he believes has evolved over the last 5-7 years. Reese said it has been proven over time that teams can’t buy a Super Bowl.
The Patriots haven't broken the bank- nor have the Steelers, Colts or any team other than the Chicago Bears. It appears that most teams have realized that overpaying players isn't the way to the Super Bowl. In fact, look for more teams to try trading down, like the Patriots, in attempt to get more players for lower cost.
Floyd Reese appears to know what he's doing. I'm looking forward to another great draft.