Patriots new GM could attack the draft how fans have hoped for years

NFL Hall of Fame Induction
NFL Hall of Fame Induction / Joe Robbins/GettyImages

Throughout the Bill Belichick era in New England, there was a sense of understanding regarding how the head coach and general manager would approach the draft every year. Although it could be argued his decision-making was unpredictable, one thing was sure: he wouldn't follow the path that every other team went down.

Most teams will assemble a big board of players they're interested in and would like to select, if possible while prioritizing taking the best available player once they're on the clock. They, of course, will take a player they need, like the Patriots leaning toward a quarterback in the first round this year. But many GMs just wanted whoever was the best remaining on the board.

Belichick never really worked that way.

He went against the grain, made some questionable choices, and yet, at the same time, created a trend that teams over the years tried to emulate. Maybe they weren't as successful as Belichick was, but in recent years, it was better to approach the draft in the opposite manner.

Now that he's gone and the presumed new GM Eliot Wolf is said to be making most of the roster decisions, it's unclear how he will go about free agency and, maybe even more importantly, the upcoming draft.

The Patriots appear to be set up for success with Eliot Wolf taking over GM duties

ESPN's Mike Reiss published his weekly notes on Sunday morning discussing this very matter, sharing some information he took from conversations he had with people who worked with Wolf in the past, most notably former Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman.

Sherman met Wolf when he first started his career in the NFL, working as a tight ends coach for the Packers in 1997.

One of the memories that stands out the most for him is seeing Wolf work alongside his legendary father, Ron, during the draft. Sherman believes growing up with his father around the business and learning from him will make him a great GM, which the Patriots should (hopefully) ultimately benefit from this year.

On the surface, that seems like fantastic news for a team in a rebuild, and that would be enough to excite fans this offseason. But Sherman went into further detail about what Wolf could bring to the franchise based on his father's draft philosophy, something the Patriots have not implemented in decades: taking the best available player.

"Of all the things I learned from [Ron], one of the biggest was 'don't hide your mistakes -- admit it, fix it and move on.' I'm sure Eliot will embrace a similar type of philosophy. The other thing he would always talk about is the best available player, not necessarily what you might need. You may need something else, but it's not based on needs, it's based on ability. For the most part I think Ron Wolf did a good job of living by that."

Given where New England is this offseason, with the need to improve the entire offense and continue to build a dominant defense among the most important, focusing on taking the best player could be a nice change of pace and set them up for long-term success. It doesn't mean they should completely ignore their biggest needs, but they'll be able to address many of those in free agency more than a month before the draft begins.

That allows them to narrow their focus on draft night and possibly follow this new draft mantra, which hasn't been the case for the last 24 years.

It's a bit unnerving to think about, considering it would be an entirely new approach. But they say change is good, right? Maybe this is what the Patriots need as they begin this new era under Jerod Mayo.

Read more from Musket Fire: