In the wake of their free agent spree, the conversation surrounding the New England Patriots has quickly shifted to the 2021 Draft, which is a little less than three weeks away.
The latest round of mocks have them selecting a quarterback in the first-round, though opinions have differed in terms of who they’ll end up with.
All mock drafts considered, the two names most prominently linked to the Patriots have been Mac Jones and a quickly-falling (?) Justin Fields.
Much has been made about Bill Belichick’s recent track record in the draft, and understandably so, as his batting average has been well below par, whiffing and reaching on picks far more frequently compared to most of his general managing tenure.
Well, it would appear that Belichick is aware of this.
In his latest column for Sports Illustrated, insider Albert Breer reported that the longtime de facto GM is being “more collaborative” in his approach to the draft compared to recent years.
Patriots fans will love hearing that GM Bill Belichick is operating differently ahead of this month’s draft.
"“The Patriots have employed a “different approach” this year,” Breer wrote. “My sense right now is that has translated inside the building in a more collaborative Belichick, who’s listening not just to his top guys, Dave Ziegler and Eliot Wolf, but also those rising through the organization, like national scout Matt Groh.”“Now, I don’t know if it’ll change the Patriots’ luck on draft day. Or if Belichick will pull back on it when we get there. But for now, it feels like a good positive step for them.”"
This should be music to the ears of Patriots fans.
That obviously isn’t to say we don’t trust Belichick to make the right picks, but it’s encouraging knowing that more members of the front office and scouting department are having their voices heard. After all, isn’t that why they were hired in the first place?
After spending north of $200 million in free agency, the Patriots can really put an exclamation point on their most important offseason in recent memory by hitting on most (if not all) of their selections this year. For those wondering, they’ll draft a whopping 10 times after they were awarded a league-leading four compensatory picks.
There’s just no hiding the fact that Belichick hasn’t lived up to expectations in the draft of late. For starters, he pretty much accepted defeat on last year’s class, in which he drafted two tight ends in the third-round after he signed Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to big deals in free agency.
If not for the emergence of Damien Harris last season, the 2019 class would look even worse than last year’s pool of newcomers. None of the other nine draftees have emerged as key role players, let alone full-time starters, and first-rounder N’Keal Harry is reportedly being shopped in trades.
We could continue, but we’ll leave you with this nugget: the last player Belichick hit a complete home run on — he kind of lucked into Michael Onwenu last year — was third-rounder Joe Thuney way back in 2016, and he’s not even on the team anymore.
Again, there’s no point in beating a dead horse, but Patriots fans have reason to feel confident leading up to draft night knowing that Belichick has acknowledged his mistakes and is operating almost entirely differently compared to what we’ve grown accustomed to.