BOSTON (CBS) — We heard that there were some pretty big changes in the Patriots’ approach to this year’s NFL Draft, and that all started with the man in charge: Bill Belichick. On Monday, SI’s Albert Breer provided an inside look at those changes.

New England’s draft record hasn’t been great over the past few years, so much so that it prompted owner Robert Kraft to point out that the team wouldn’t have had to go on such a free agent spending spree had they drafted a bit better recently. It seems as though that message was heard loud and clear by Belichick, and that is not the only listening he did during the pre-draft process.

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According to Breer, Belichick was much more open to the other members of the New England brain trust this year, something that was not the case in previous years.

“I’m told Belichick was in the office more in the spring this year than in the past, held more formal draft meetings, something that really hasn’t happened under Belichick before, and reworked other past practices with the help of [Dave] Ziegler, [Eliot] Wolf and [Matt] Groh,” Breer wrote in his MMQB column.

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In years past, Belichick was going off his own experiences and his connections with college coaches, letting the opinions of New England’s other draft evaluators go by the wayside. This year, he was open to hearing what they had to say, and it showed in New England’s eight selections according to others outside of the organization.

“The result to scouts outside the organization was obvious: The players the Patriots took were all highly productive college players, and there wasn’t the kind of wild Belichick curveball those who’ve been there got used to (i.e. Jordan Richards or Tavon Wilson in the second round), where the New England coach valued a player way over where the rest of the NFL’s scouting community did. And the proof is right there in the numbers,” wrote Breer.

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The Patriots drafted eight players this year, highlighted by the team taking quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15.

CBSBoston.com Staff