The New England Patriots’ draft operation will look a lot different moving forward. As Bill Belichick revealed during a media conference call on Saturday, the 2021 NFL Draft was the last one for long-time Patriots research director Ernie Adams.
Adams first arrived in New England as part of Chuck Fairbanks’ staff in 1975, and with the exception of some short-time stints in New York and Cleveland has played a major role within the organization ever since. As a recognition of those contributions, Belichick called the draft room to attention during Saturday’s final day of the draft and gave a farewell address to Adams.
He also allowed him to make the final pick of the draft, and personally call the player selected. That player in question was Central Florida wide receiver Tre Nixon, who will forever be linked to the Patriots’ legendary research director.
While Belichick did not confirm whether or not Adams would retire from his other roles with the team as well, or simply leave the draft operation, it goes without saying that New England will have some enormous shoes to fill moving forward. Adams, after all, has had a hand in seemingly every part of the organization since being brought back by Belichick in the spring of 2000. Since then, Adams was instrumental in helping the Patriots win six Super Bowls.
“Ernie’s contributions are historic,” Belichick said on Saturday. “He’s literally been involved in every single aspect of football program at every level that you could possibly be involved in and has done an outstanding job in all of them.
“Not all coaches have the kind of involvement that Ernie’s had in the draft process throughout his career. His knowledge, experience and decisions and organization and being part of the process, the way he set it up and taught it to really all the people that have come through here ... he’s really had a big hand in the foundation when it was laid in the middle 70s. It’s on a major level.”
Belichick personally giving Adams the honor of making the final pick was therefore a nice gesture — and one he and the team will hope turn out just like another late-round wide receiver he hand-picked: as Belichick noted in his draft room speech, Adams was the person who decided New England should draft David Givens in the seventh round in 2002.
Givens went on to spend four seasons with the team and ended up winning two Super Bowl rings as a starter-level wide receiver. If Tre Nixon can come close to his 193 catches for 2,538 yards and 19 touchdowns he will be a nice parting gift for the Patriots.