The New England Patriots are currently scouting players from all over the college football landscape, a process that picked up steam over the last months as pro days paved the way for private workouts, interviews and visits. To get a feel for the prospects, the Patriots are not only sending their scouts to various colleges; members of the team's coaching staff are also taking trips around the country.
One of them is defensive line coach Brendan Daly, who is with the Patriots since joining them as a defensive assistant in 2014. The 42-year old is looking at potential targets to bolster a New England defensive front seven that is coming off an up-and-down season – one, of course, that ended with a loss in Super Bowl 52 – and has recently spoken to patriots.com about the process:
There's a number of things. I mean, obviously, there's the measurables stuff – the height, weight, the test numbers. I honestly don't look at much of any of that. The more important part of it, for me, is the position workout. Watching the guy move around, watching how they work, watching their sense of urgency, watching a little bit of their body language; how coachable they are, how quickly they can adjust and understanding what you're seeing.
More than anything, Daly's commentary shows just how nuanced the process of scouting college players is: A team and its employees in the coaching and scouting departments take multiple factors into consideration before grading a player. As the Patriots' assistant coach points out, simple things like body language or sense of urgency can be equally important than other things – and ultimately make a difference.
This approach, of course, is not exclusive to the pre-draft phase of the offseason but – with some potential minor variations – also used when it comes to free agency workouts. No matter the circumstances, though, Daly's remarks reflect how New England is taking as much information as possible into consideration before making decisions. In a league as competitive as the NFL, an attention to detail can decide a lot.