BOSTON (CBS) — In recent months, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has discussed the Patriots’ draft process during his local radio appearances. Now, Breer has put it into writing, and he dropped a doozy of a nugget regarding the decision to draft wide receiver N’Keal Harry in 2019.
According to Breer, Bill Belichick doesn’t take all the advice of his scouts in the way that most people in charge personnel do around the NFL. As Breer noted, the Patriots’ success for 20 years has made this “closed-off” approach a non-story.READ MORE: John Henry, FSG Under Fire From Liverpool Fans For Super League Decision
But with Robert Kraft admitting last week that the team hasn’t “done the greatest job” in the draft in recent years, there is now some added scrutiny to the process. And Breer used the team drafting Harry in the first round as a shining example.
“It also, as some saw it, led to misses like N’Keal Harry in 2019. Harry killed his 30 visit that spring and had a college coach, Todd Graham, who was close to Belichick. In that end, without more input from scouts who preferred Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown, the coach wound up leaning on his own experience with Harry, rather than the red flags his scouts planted, and lost a golden opportunity to fill a hole on his roster.”
The Harry pick has, of course, been questioned quite a bit in this region. After Belichick used a first-round pick on a wide receiver for the first time of his career, hopes were high on the big-bodied pass catcher out of Arizona State.READ MORE: Jabari Parker Is Enjoying His New Opportunity With Celtics
Yet through two seasons, Harry just 45 receptions for 414 yards and four touchdowns, having played in just 21 of a possible 32 games.
Samuel, who was drafted by the 49ers four picks after Harry went off the board, has caught 90 passes for 1,193 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 185 yards and three touchdowns.
Brown, who was drafted 51st overall by Tennessee, has 122 receptions for 2,126 yards and 19 touchdowns, having turned in back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to start his NFL career.
Breer reported that Patriots scouts felt “frustrated” by this process, which led to an “exodus in the scouting department the last few years.” The team has seen former national scout DuJuan Daniels leave for the Raiders and former college scouting director Monti Ossenfort leave for Tennessee in recent years.MORE NEWS: Group Of Red Sox Players Gets COVID-19 Vaccination At Fenway Park
The Patriots also lost director of player personnel Nick Caserio this offseason, as he left New England to take the Houston GM job. Breer wrote that he’s gotten the “sense” that there is a more “collaborative” approach to scouting and drafting now, with Belichick listening to the likes of Dave Ziegler, Eliot Wolf, and Matt Groh.