NFL

Bill Belichick: Evaluating draft prospects in 2021 is 'definitely different'

Earlier this month, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft suggested his club needed to be better in the NFL Draft moving forward after misses in recent years. At the time, Kraft noted that he felt the Pats’ offseason approach was different this year.

Bill Belichick was asked about Kraft’s comments on Thursday and noted that the goal hasn’t changed how the Patriots want to build their roster.

“We’re always looking to get better,” Belichick said. “Always trying to evaluate everything we do and find a better way to do it. I would say that’s an annual process with the draft, but that’s something we do on a regular basis throughout the course of the regular season.

“Always looking to do a better job. There are some things that last year were unique to the draft process, as I mentioned, some of them are similar to this year, some of them are a little bit different. So we certainly use some of that experience to improve the process a little bit this year. At least we felt like we improved it this year. Ultimately, we’re still going to try to evaluate the players and make the decisions we feel like are best for the football team. We’ll continue to do that, and that’s really what we’ve always tried to do. I don’t think the mission’s changed.”

What did change is how NFL front offices have had to juggle the past two drafts without the first-hand meetings with prospects.

Belichick noted the different processes his team has had to take in scouting players this offseason, given the wonky nature of the 2020 college football season. The Pats coach noted that the evaluation on film this past season has taken on “some twists and turns.”

“In some respects, the ’19 film is more of an apples-to-apples comparison of where players were,” Belichick said. “At the same time, we all know that players get better with another year of experience…It makes the evaluation a little bit different. Just have to figure out what you think the player will be able to do for your team, what his role will be, and what the rate of development or the process will be when you get him on your team. It’s a little bit less information than what we normally have, but all teams are working with the same general information.

“The evaluation is definitely different. No question.”

Belichick added that former Lions head coach Matt Patricia has been “heavily involved” in that process this season after his return to Foxborough.

As per usual, Belichick was mum on specifics ahead of the draft, including any plans to upgrade the quarterback position. Asked if he’d consider “over-drafting” a QB considering certain players at that position might not be available in later rounds, Belichick responded:

“That question applies to every position on the board.”

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