Thursday’s trade out of the first round was a sign of things to come for the New England Patriots: the team of Bill Belichick was among the most active during this year’s NFL draft, and when the dust settled had added 10 players to the roster. While each players’ outlook differs in the short and the long term, and not all should be considered locks to make the team this year, they do have some common traits — at least according to Belichick.
New England’s head coach and de facto general manager spoke with reporters on a media conference call shortly after the conclusion of the draft’s final round on Saturday evening, and assessed the players his team had selected over the previous three days. Belichick acknowledged the differences between ever draft class, and that time will ultimately tell the success, bu he also shared his feelings on the group of guys drafted in general.
“Every player has something that we feel like is valuable to offer to our team,” the future Hall of Famer said. “I think this is a pretty hard-working and mature group. We’ll see how all that plays out. It’s a little different in college than it is in the National Football League. The challenges will be different, all that. Certainly seem to have represented themselves well in our interactions with them, what we’ve been able to determine from our scouts and so forth. It seems like a pretty solid group.”
The Patriots have placed a premium on maturity and work ethic when it comes to their recent draft and free agency acquisitions, and 2020’s rookie class does not seem to be an exception when judged by Belichick’s statements. The play on the field will obviously be the determining factor when it comes to the impact, but the group does bring considerable experience to the table and should be able to adapt well to the challenging environment that is not just the NFL as a whole but the Patriots organization in particular.
“Added some depth in terms of offensive line, tight ends, obviously a kicker, big safety and three linebackers that have some versatility. Plus guys that are coming in as undrafted free agents which we’ve always gotten contributions out of somebody from that group as well. We’ll see how all that ends up,” Belichick continued. “This is always a good opportunity, important opportunity, to try to improve the football team. I feel like we did that this weekend.”
As the Patriots’ coach noted, the team added considerable depth during the draft even though a relatively small number of positions was eventually targeted. Still, the team was able to completely overhaul a struggling tight end group by adding Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the third round and also brought foundational-type players into its linebacker and safety rooms. While evaluating the group based on its instant impact, the long-term considerations appear to play a key role.
“Look forward to eventually getting those guys, being able to work with them,” Belichick said about the 10 newest members of his team and what awaits them. “In the meantime we’ll do what we can do in terms of giving them information and trying to bring them up to speed with the playbook, training methods and so forth. We’ll work through that. Be a little different than what it’s been in the past but we’ll make the most of it. Excited to work with these guys.”