New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is widely regarded as having an intelligent football mind. Not everyone agrees, but the detractors are in the minority. When it comes to most NFL drafts, the 2014 NFL Draft included (beginning on May 8), most people are focused on the first round. This is particularly true this year because while most people have South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney going No. 1 overall, it is not a foregone conclusion. There is also the slim possibility the Houston Texans will trade the No. 1 overall pick.
I previously stated my case for the Patriots drafting Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with their first-round pick if he’s available at 29. However, I still believe it would be in the Patriots’ best interest to trade down and deal their first-round pick for more picks (preferably in this year’s draft). Belichick may be preparing for such a scenario as he personally met with mid-to-late round prospects, and according to agents for some of those players, he was the only head coach to do so.
This is a small part of what makes Belichick such a great head coach and de facto GM. The Patriots were faced with a number of injuries to key players in 2013. Most teams, if faced with comparable injuries, would have folded like a cheap suit and not even sniffed the playoffs. What did the Patriots do? They made it to the AFC Championship game. Yes, they largely played like cow dung in that game and lost to the Denver Broncos, but making it to the AFC Championship game (third straight) was remarkable considering all of the injuries.
Patriots QB Tom Brady was definitely part of the reason the Patriots came that close to making it to another Super Bowl. The other huge reason is because the Patriots had players who could step in and fill the roles of those who were injured. The Patriots had depth at certain positions, and they need to add some more depth before the 2014 season.
Being able to recognize talent in the mid or late rounds can certainly help an NFL team, and Belichick realizes that. Getting a sense of who could be a “value pick” (which the Patriots and Belichick love) is extremely wise. It seems like Belichick still knows what he is doing.