The vacancy atop the New England Patriots’ player personnel department lasted not even three weeks. As was announced by the team on Tuesday, Matt Groh will take over as its new director of player personnel. Dave Ziegler, who held the position in 2021, had left the club in late January to join the Las Vegas Raiders as their new general manager.
Groh is coming off his 11th season with the Patriots and will now take the next step up the organizational ladder. He served as college scouting director in 2021 and before that worked different scouting roles.
Let’s take a quick look at what his promotion means.
New England fills a valuable position in its front office
The director of player personnel is the highest ranking executive in the Patriots’ football operations department behind head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick. As such, he is serving as Belichick’s right-hand man in all things roster construction — from scouting college players to dealing with free agency or the trade market.
Groh taking over Ziegler’s old job therefore fills a major hole in the front office. In total, the group now looks as follows:
- General manager: Bill Belichick
- Director of player personnel: Matt Groh
- Director of pro personnel: Steve Cargile
- Director of college scouting: TBD
As can be seen, Groh’s old position as head of the college scouting department remains open for the time being.
College scouting department needs new leadership
There are some candidates on the Patriots’ current staff who would qualify to fill Groh’s former role as college scouting director.
Brandon Yeargan, the longest tenured national scout, appears to be the leading candidate to get the promotion either this offseason or at one point in the future. Fellow national scouts Camren Williams or Tucker Ingraham are also names to watch based on the Patriots’ promotion patterns; the same is true for scouting consultant Eliot Wolf.
Obviously, though, there is a chance the position remains open at least for the 2022 season. In 2020, for example the Patriots did not name a director of college scouting after Monti Ossenfort had left the team to join the Tennessee Titans. With Groh having considerable experience in that department, it would not be a surprise if he continued serving as its head until somebody else gets the promotion from within.
Patriots go an unfamiliar route
The Patriots have had significant stability in atop their player personnel department over the last two decades. Scott Pioli led it until 2007, with Nick Caserio holding the position until his departure last year. Dave Ziegler’s stint was a comparatively short one: he held the spot just one season.
All three of them have one thing in common: they all rose through the pro personnel department. Pioli did so before joining the Patriots, while both Caserio and Ziegler held positions in pro personnel before rising to the top of the all-encompassing player personnel department.
Matt Groh, on the other hand, worked in college scouting before Tuesday. He joined the Patriots in 2011 as a scouting assistant, and later served as an area (2013-18) and national scout (2019-20). Last year, in the wake of a personnel reshuffling up top, he was promoted to director of college scouting.
Apparently, though, Belichick thinks that Groh has what it takes — both in terms of his own skillset and his supporting cast — to take the next step and also get involved in pro personnel matters on top of scouting college players.
Running the player personnel department will likely remain a team effort
When Nick Caserio left the Patriots in 2020, they did not give all of his responsibilities to Dave Ziegler. Instead, they used a team of executives to help fill his shoes: Ziegler and Groh were among them, as was the aforementioned Steve Cargile as well as scouting consultant Eliot Wolf and senior football advisor Matt Patricia.
The expectation is that those three will continue to play prominent roles in the player personnel department moving forward. While Groh will be its head on a titular basis, the others will likely be involved as well: Cargile will continue to be heavily involved in pro personnel matters, with Wolf already spotted on the pre-draft scouting trail.
Patricia might see more action in coaching this season, but he has become a jack-of-all-trades for New England anyway.