Adding Bill O’Brien to the mix will not just impact the way the New England Patriots offense is designed and called in 2023. His input also will apparently have an influence on who the team will bring aboard as part of its roster construction process.
According to Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh, the new offensive coordinator is aiding the scouting department in finding talent to add to his unit through the draft. It is not hard to see why: O’Brien spent the last two seasons at the University of Alabama, and got an up-close look at several top-tier prospects both on his own team and throughout the rest of college football’s top conference, the SEC.
While his input will likely neither make nor break a player’s evaluation, it is another piece of information to be considered.
“It’s a huge, huge resource for us having coach O’Brien come from the program he’s come from and the conference he’s come from,” recently Groh told patriots.com. “His exposure to players, not only at his school but also in his conference. He knows how they viewed those players and how they attacked them, so that’s a big help to us on the college side.”
The Patriots’ goal, per Groh, is to add players that do fit the team from a schematic perspective — something O’Brien knows as well as anybody, given that he is in charge of that.
“It’s really important to me that the coaches have some input, and we want to have players that the coaches want to coach and are invested in,” Groh said. “So, we look for as much feedback as we can get from them.”
While New England either has no shot (DE Will Anderson Jr.) or no need (QB Bryce Young) to bring some of them aboard, there are multiple prospects from the Crimson Tide who make sense for the team either at No. 14 in the first round or later on in the draft. These include running back Jahmyr Gibbs, offensive tackle Tyler Steen, linebacker Henry To’o To’o, and defensive backs Brian Branch and Jordan Battle.
At the end of the day, the Patriots have a familiar goal entering the draft: get good football players to their team, regardless of background or position. Groh said so himself when talking about the cornerback spot.
“We’re just looking to find as many good football players as possible,” he said. “Some of those guys have to fit certain height, weight, and speed parameters. If the guy is a good football player and we think he can help us, we’re going to look to add them onto our roster.”
Finding these players is not easy, making every bit of information valuable. In order to get as much of it as possible, having somebody like O’Brien assist is certainly not a bad thing.