Much has been made recently about the Patriots holding pre-draft visits with prospective NFL quarterbacks, such as Jake Locker from Washington and Ryan Mallet from Arkansas. Are the Patriots looking for the heir apparent to Tom Brady? Should they be? Ian Rapoport from the Boston Herald recently discussed these visits with the Hooded One himself, Bill Belichick. Though he gave no indication of intentions or thoughts on Brady’s longevity, he did provide some insight into the purpose of these types of visits. Recall that the Pats hosted Tim Tebow before last year’s draft but did not select him.
Pre-draft visits such as the ones with Locker and Mallet are conducted with thoughts are placing the proper value them. Not only is this done for players the Patriots might actually select, but also for the ones that they have no intentions of selecting. Instead, it is to see how highly valued other teams may view these players and if one of those teams wants to move up and trade with the Pats to select one of these players, what is the proper compensation based on the player’s value.
“You need to know the whole board,” Belichick said. “That’s part of what has helped us in making trades and maneuvering on draft day, understanding what we think is the value on the board as it relates to us, and our perception of what it is in the league. It’s just doing your homework.
“…you want to know what you’re trading away from or what somebody else might be trading into,” he continued. “Even though that might not be your guy, it’s still useful information.”
The Patriots likely are not the only team in the NFL which goes through this process, but they are among the best at working it to their advantage, as evidenced by the numerous trades they have made in the past. We could see this at work once again when the Pats are up to pick at #28, only to trade back to a team which selects one of the available quarterbacks. If the Pats end up with more than the perceived value of the pick (but perhaps not the individual player), we’ll know why. Part of it was taking the time to host some prospects just to gain their trade value.