FOXBORO -- After Aaron Hernandez was arrested during the investigation of Odin Lloyd's murder last summer, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told a group of reporters, "You can be sure we'll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things."
One could assume that would include how the team handles the NFL Draft, and how it looks at the players on whom it is considering spending one of its valuable selections.
Kraft admitted that he had been "duped" by Hernandez, a player the Patriots selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Less than a year after Hernandez's arrest, Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio was asked how the team assesses character in order to avoid being duped in the future.
"I think the players, really you look at the entire body of work, when you create a profile of a player, there are a multitude of metrics that go into that," he said. "The player's performance, their football character, which is separate from their off-the-field character if you will. There are a number of things that go into the profile of a player. Their medical history, their performance, their play history. You really try to take all that info and in the end say, 'OK here's the profile of that player.' If we feel comfortable organizationally with that player, then we make the decision. If we don't feel comfortable then we move onto the next player. Each player's going to have their own package. We understand that. We realize that. Ultimately we have to make the decision that we think is best. We spend a lot of time on that, and we try to make the best decision that we can for us at that time."
Caserio explained that the pre-draft interview process is vital to getting a feel for what kinds of men they're looking at.
"The interview process in and of itself, you touch on a number of different things," Caserio said. "It's their personal situation, their background. The football component of it, I'd say is significant.
"Let's say you have a player that you've talked to at an All-Star game. You have one exposure there with someone from your personnel department. Then you're at the Combine and you have another dialogue with them, maybe it's a position coach or Bill or myself. Then you go out in the spring and you work them out. Let's say you try to teach them your system, install some of your system, go through their role, [say] 'OK here's this play, here's your assignment.' Then you have that same player and you bring him to your facility and you're looking at his recall. How did he handle the information that we gave him? The same story that he gave one coach, is it different from . . .
"You have really a system of checks and balances. It's not one 15 minute Combine interview that you say 'OK, well we've got it all straight.' That's just really an introduction in some cases. That's an exposure at different points along the way. It's very extensive. It's very exhaustive and it touches on a number of different areas. Really what we're trying to do is figure out within the confines of this building, will he be able to handle the demands of our program on a day to day basis? Really that's what you're trying to get to. You try to dig in as best you can, as much as you can on a variety of different topics and areas, and the football component is a huge part of that process, just in terms of you're learning capacity and in terms of your ability to actually play within your system. There's definitely a lot that goes into it."