NFL Draft: What Did Bill Belichick Have To Say On His Picks?

Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 18, 2014; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats wide receiver Miles Shuler (5) tries to get past Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (98) during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2014; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats wide receiver Miles Shuler (5) tries to get past Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (98) during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /

Q: You’re not adding a global scout yet then you’re saying?

BB: No, not yet. Again, because there’s really no football outside of the United States. You don’t see it. Most time they come here to play but there are a couple guys who either don’t play, or back a decade or so ago, there were a few guys from Australia that either kicked or like Australian rules football players, like theNate Ebner concept. Nate played at Ohio State, so I’m not saying that, but say that he hadn’t, you have that same type of athlete. There’s always going to be a little of that, basketball guys that don’t play football.

Q: How do you evaluate balancing who is already on place on the roster and these draft choices?

BB: Yeah, well, I think that’s a good question. I think that on Monday’s waiver wire you’re going to see a lot of players on it throughout the league because of players that were drafted or acquired or free agents, whatever it happens to be, that other transactions will offset those or be part of the process so we’ll just have to see how all of that plays out. There’s definitely a little bit of juggling there. I’d say the main thing for me would be that if the player’s circumstances change to the point where you don’t really think you can give that player a fair opportunity, then it’s in your best interest and his best interest to move on and let him find a better opportunity somewhere else. I’d say that’s not an infrequent situation. It comes up. It’s not going to be 20 guys, but there’s a player that’s going to end up getting stacked behind a few guys and you’re going to be able to really give him the opportunity that you thought you would, at a different point of time, then when things change I think that the player appreciates rather than go through training camp, and get halfway through camp and see what is already evident now then that makes it a lot easier for him now to find a better opportunity. When that’s the case, that’s how we usually try to approach, I think that league wide that’s what you’ll see from a lot of team. You’ll probably see some guys who are not with a team now go to a team based on some teams not being able to maybe acquire a certain position or need in the draft and then looking to a veteran player who’s unsigned to possibly fill that spot, or compete for it.

Q: Is Joe Thuney a better fit on the inside?

BB: Maybe. He’s played both and he was going to start at center, I think it was his sophomore year, so he’s actually played in there, not in the actual games but he did that. It’s a discussion we kind of had with [Matt] Light too. When we drafted Light we kind of thought that we worried a little bit about his length. My wisdom to try to put him at right tackle, try to play him at guard, he was brutal, couldn’t do anything. So, we played him back at left tackle and he had a great career. He’s going to be on the shorter end of that relative to left tackles. [Logan] Mankins, we played him at left tackle a couple games in a similar situation with him. Left tackle at first, now put him inside. There were points in his career when he went out and played left tackle and played it pretty good. Could he have played left tackle? Probably, but it just didn’t work out that way. We’ll see. It’s a little different in this league than it is in college. A lot of these guys don’t meet the dimensions but there are still good football players one way or another so we’ll see.

Q: Is the safety/ linebacker hybrid position like Deone Bucannon something that’s new, or something that’s old but has come back?

BB: I think that you are definitely seeing a strong trend in the league towards corners that play safety or corner-type athletes that play safety, bigger safeties that play linebacker. Both of those are trends. We’ve always put a lot of premium on the passing game even going back to when we had Eugene Wilson, who played corner at Illinois, and started for us at corner for a couple weeks and then we moved him to free safety, but that was an advantage when teams went to the multiple receivers. Then we already had that third corner on the field and we could go nickel or we could leave our regular defense out there, or leave our corner on the third receiver, what we call penny defense, but things like that. That was really, I’d say, pretty successful for us. Devin [McCourty’s] given us some of that, so has [Patrick] Chung. Devin’s a corner but not that Chung is a corner, but he has corner qualities, he’s had some corner-type responsibilities, particularly in the slot, even going back to when Wes [Welker] was here, and he would cover Wes pretty competitively in practice sessions and things like that. I’d say that has always been something that’s, if you have a player that can do that, somewhat appealing. The other problem is if you get mismatched with the receiver against a safety who’s not a very good coverage player, then that can blow up in a hurry. Rodney [Harrison] was a guy that you mentioned that was a very good coverage safety even though he was a big physical, and he played the run as well as anybody. He could also cover the run and that’s very unusual and that made him very special. You could literally matchup on anybody, receivers, tight ends, blitz him, play him on goal line. He could do it all. He was tremendous. I’d say, yeah, as the offenses have gotten more spread out, as the offenses have put more skill players on the field, as the tight ends have become more athletic and less of the conventional kind of power-blocking type guys, those matchups keep getting tougher and tougher. I’d say there’s definitely a movement towards safeties that can play corner or have some corner-like qualities to them and that extends to the linebacker level as well. You see less of the big run stopping Ted Johnson, Brandon Spikes type players. It’s just harder when the offense spreads you out and then they go fast and you can’t substitute and you’re stuck with whoever you have out there, out there. That creates some problems out there, too. The colleges are seeing the same thing and they probably have to deal with it more than we do because there are so many fast-tempo offenses, so they are in the same boat so they are playing a lot of what we call dime defense, or little nickel, or whatever it is, but where they put a lot of fast guys on the field. Ends are playing tackle, safeties are playing linebacker, and corners are playing safety. It’s just kind of getting a little bit smaller in a lot of areas. I don’t know if that’s different., There are some differences but going back to Wilson and Harrison, and those guys from 02-03-04, back in there, there’s a lot of similarities to the Chung-Harrison, Chung-McCourty, corner/safety type that had more coverage ability than some other guys that you would see out there.

Q: What does the unknown factor revolving around every new player, such as Joe Thuney, do for a player in terms of being able to define his own role and position on the team?

BB: Right, I think that each situation is different. You can change jobs but you’re still doing the same job but it’s different working for a different organization. So, what we do, what we ask our guys to do in different positions, is going to be different than what somebody else asks them to do. I think that is just inherent and whether that is our style of play, or the timing of the passing game for an offensive lineman is different for us than it might be for another team. The running game might be a little different than it was, like it was definitely different than what they did at N.C. State, that I know for sure. Regardless, there are some changes that are just different and that’s just part of going to a different team and some players adapt to those easily. Some of those have new techniques, some favor the player’s moves, some of them sometimes maybe aren’t as good as what the system they were in before. That happens too, sometimes. Those things are always hard to predict until you have a player and actually work with him in your system, some players play multiple positions in another system but then when you try to do that with a guy in your system, it doesn’t work out as well for whatever the reasons are now. Maybe it’s just whatever you’re asking them to do – the processing, the nomenclature – I don’t know. Sometimes it works out good, sometimes it doesn’t. Until you actually get them in that, I don’t think you actually know how it’s going to go. Maybe a guy does well at one thing but maybe he isn’t as comfortable doing something else. Sometimes it takes a while to figure that out. Some guys aren’t asked to do a lot and then once they are asked – the Mike Vrabel’s of the world, played linebacker at Pittsburgh, and then here he played – run around at free safety at practice, played offense, played defensive end, played linebacker, played inside linebacker. He embraced it and it kind of opened things up for him. That’s not always the case with everybody. I think it’s very hard to know that for sure. Look, if the guy’s played multiple positions in college, let’s just say, or with another team, it gives you some idea that he can do it. You can evaluate how he is doing it but it’s not always the same when you do it. Even though it looks the same on paper, it’s not quite the same. Teamwork; a lot of teamwork is involved. I’d say look shortstop, shortstop, and right. Bases are the same; you line up the same players, shortstop, and shortstop. You start getting out there with 10 other guys versus another 11 guys and they’re all moving at once, there are a lot of things involved there. It’s a little bit different.

Q: What do you think of Kevin Faulk, Mike Vrabel, and Raymond Clayborn making the Patriots Hall of Fame?

BB: All good. All really good. Clayborn – amazing. Vrabel, Faulk, there’s another ten guys you could name too that could easily be considered like [Rodney] Harrison, starting with that, [Bill] Parcells, you can just start throwing names out here. There are a lot of guys that could easily be under consideration that are very worthy Hall of Famers and they probably will be someday.

Q: What did you think of Kevin Faulk’s attire last night?

BB: He always makes good decisions. Yeah, he looked sharp out there. Lawyer Milloy turned in the Seahawks pick. I mean, come on. That’s all good, it’s all good. It’s good to see those guys back in the flow. Some of them you haven’t seen in, you know guys from other teams that you coached against. Yeah, Richard [Seymour], sure. We’ll see a bunch of those guys this year because it’s 15 years [since 2001]. I know a lot of those guys – Stacey [James] is organizing that. I’m not sure they won’t come back and do something. 15 years, that’s a pretty good group there.