The New England Patriots got off to a late start in preparations for the 2015 NFL draft. But as director of player personnel Nick Caserio explained to Patriots.com Thursday, the scouting department has not.
Together, both sides of organization are looking to get back up to speed.
“Our staff spent a lot of time during the course of the fall and done a lot of work through December and into the all-star period in January,” Caserio said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “So, we’ve spent a lot of time on players and certain players where this is our first exposure to – especially the underclassmen. So, there are certain aspects that we have to delve into a little deeper. But for the most part our staff has made a conscious effort to stay on top of it. There’s still a lot of work to be done here and we’ll be ready to go hopefully by the end of April for the draft.”
With the Super Bowl XLIX champions edging closer to the draft, they find themselves taking a prospect-first approach. Assessing the personnel currently under contract for next season, as well as the free agents who are currently not, is something that will come into focus after this week concludes.
“We’re going through an evaluation process,” said Caserio. “When we get back from the combine we’ll go through a pretty comprehensive analysis of our roster – go through player by player strengths, weaknesses and what we see as their role and what their future is going to be moving forward. Those decisions will be made at the appropriate time but the reality is our team is going to be different next year, that’s the reality of the NFL. We’ll go through and make the decision we feel is best for the organization going forward.”
With the future of cornerback Darrelle Revis, free safety Devin McCourty and kicker Stephen Gostkowski unsolidified, and with the veteran contracts of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo firmly on the books, there are several decisions awaiting the Patriots back in Foxborough.
But for now, Caserio, head coach Bill Belichick and other members of New England’s coaching and scouting departments are collecting what can be at the combine. And it is there, between measurements, medical exams and on-field workouts, that the team is allowed to formally meet with 60 draft prospects.
Making the most of those meetings is not unlike the other moves ahead of the Patriots. It is a battle against the clock.
“It’s only a 15-minute period of time so maybe there are certain topics you want to try to address that have been ear marked throughout the course of the fall or maybe have some information you want to verify,” Caserio added. “You only have so much time so you can’t cover a wide-ranging number of topics. You try to pick one or two things to focus in on and try to step into the football aspect of it – how they process information, learning what they know – so this is just a small segment of it and you use that as a starting point and you build on it the next few weeks.”
Parts of the Patriots’ contingent have gotten to familiarize with this year’s class at previous events, including the Senior Bowl, and other opportunities to do so will arrive during college pro days and private workouts in the coming months. Yet with upwards of 330 prospects all in one place at Lucas Oil Stadium, New England’s staff is in position to pick up information right now, in a concentrated environment laden with potential suitors.
The Patriots have already met face-to-face with a few of the top prospects, including Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams and Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown. More meetings will be underway shortly, as quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and additional defensive prospects file in.
The premise is simple.
“To have all the players centralized in one location is good. There are opportunities for the coaches and other staff to spend a little more time with the players. You’re really just trying to gather as much information as possible.”