By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots are going to draft a handful of players in this month’s draft. While the importance of some of those players to the roster in the years ahead will be very important, it’s likely that the draftee who will draw the most attention will be whichever quarterback gets added to the roster.
Isn’t that always the case when a quarterback is involved?
Of course, for a new Patriots quarterback to step into the spotlight, the Patriots would first have to actually draft a quarterback. The team has certainly been rumored to have interest ranging from significant to minor in a number of quarterbacks, from a Heisman winner like Lamar Jackson to an FCS passer like Kyle Lauletta.
That interest, though, is based entirely on reports and rumors. On Friday morning, Bill Belichick stepped to the podium at Gillette Stadium and was asked directly if he anticipates drafting a quarterback. Unsurprisingly, Belichick didn’t publicly broadcast his draft plans.
“We’ll do what’s best for the football team,” Belichick said. “We’ll look at our opportunities and do what’s best.”
That initial question was framed around Tom Brady’s age. In a follow-up, Belichick was asked how long he believes the soon-to-be-41-year-old Brady will play.
“Yeah, again, I’m happy to answer the draft questions,” Belichick said. “I’m not going to get into everything else here.”
Belichick was expansive in many other areas, such as the quality of this year’s draft class, the process and work the team puts into the draft, what he gets out of visiting pro days, and more.
“In the draft process I’d look at it like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s got like 100 pieces. Each piece has a little bit of a fit, but in the end there are a lot of pieces,” Belichick said. “You have all of the factors that come with the player, a lot of other circumstances, other opinions. There’s medical opinions, his ability as a teammate, leadership, work ethic, strength, quickness, level of improvement, rate of improvement, rate of decline, injury factors, versatility. How much has he done? How much could he do? Maybe he hasn’t been asked to do it. There’s a thousand things that go into it, so you try to put it all together and figure it out. It’s hard. That’s why it’s a pretty imperfect process, but you do the best you can. I think this year, probably as we saw last year, somewhere between a half and two-thirds of the players in the first two rounds will be underclassmen. It’s just less information on those guys. Every team in the league is working with the same information, but it’s just less.”
And as tends to be the case, Belichick’s dry wit was in midseason form when cautioning against any grand proclamations or statements or beliefs being expressed about his team in April.
“So the preseason schedule was released and I noticed on that schedule that there are no games in May or June or July,” Belichick said flatly. “Preseason games are in August, so it doesn’t look like the regular season is going to start until September this year. So, that’s four months of team building.”