With only two weeks to go until the 2021 NFL draft, the New England Patriots are obviously entering the critical phase of preparing for the event. Whether it is attending some high-profile Pro Days or holding virtual interviews, the goal is to finalize the board and get as ready as possible for when the college player selection meeting arrives.
This also includes going through different scenarios to get a feel for whatever can happen once New England is on the clock at No. 15 in the first round. Head coach and general manager Bill Belichick touched on this preparatory process during a media conference call on Thursday, explaining how his team is trying to get ready for everything that might happen in two weeks time.
“At 15 I think we could eliminate a few players that won’t be at 15, and then you could look at a couple of scenarios and say, ‘If these three players are there, which one we take? If these three different players are there, which one do we take?’ You go through that exercise and talk about that,” Belichick said.
Drafting higher than they have in recent years, and in need of a long-term solution at the quarterback position, the Patriots are certainly in an intriguing spot. They are candidates to make a jump up the board to address the biggest need on the roster after what has been an aggressive offseason, but could also very well sit put or move back depending on the number one factor: value.
For Belichick, it is all about finding value at whichever selection a player is brought aboard. And as he noted, that could very well involve moving up some spots.
“Normally — there’s less options at 15 than there are at 28, 30, 31, some of the spots we drafted from — something would happen and there could very well be a player there that either you don’t expect to be there. Maybe at 12, 13, he’s still on the board and you really thought he’d be gone in the top six, seven picks, and then the question comes do you move up to get that player that’s fallen a little bit,” he said.
Belichick acknowledged that the Patriots are going through all different scenarios in their pre-draft preparation. Whether it is moving up, back, or staying put, all potential cases will be played through in order to get a feel for what might happen.
“A lot of it is fluid, but there is certainly the scenarios that is worth going through as exercises to think about and to prepare for. I’d say more often than not the ones that you go through don’t happen. It’s usually something a little bit different. But, you never know,” he said.
“Which players would you move up for to get? Which players would you not move up for that you would wait and decide whether you would pick them at the spot you’re at? ... Who do you take if you stay, and what players are on the board? And, if players are on the board that you feel like don’t add a lot of value or maybe they’re not the kind of fit for your team that you are looking for in that particular situation, then maybe you say, ‘Okay, maybe we consider moving back.’”
Whether it is moving back or up, or nothing of that sort, New England’s decision makers typically run numerous simulations during the pre-draft process to get a feel for how the board might fall and which decisions might have to be made on short notice. But, as Belichick pointed out, it ultimately all comes down to preparation.
“I think the best thing we can do is do our homework, know the players, know the board, and when we walk into the room for the final exam and then we see the questions on the test when it comes our turn to pick or maybe a few spots in front of our pick, then we have to potentially start making some decisions,” he said.
“Sometimes people will come to you with opportunities that you may not have anticipated, then you will have to make those decisions as to whether or not you would want to move your pick up or down depending on what the offer is and so forth.”