Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio spent about 20 minutes on Thursday talking about the team's philosophies approaching the 2012 draft. While the talk was short on specific prospects, Caserio did a good job of explaining where the Patriots are in the draft process and how some things will unfold during this draft.
A few highlights:
Q. With a week to go, what's left to do?
Caserio: I think really its a matter of just organizing a lot of the information that we have. At this point we have everything I would say for the most part that we need as far as the evaluation. Well meet with our medical personnel, well go through the medical component because that always factors into it. Theres some other testing that we do with the players that theyve done at some of the all-star games. I think its a matter of pooling all the information into as concise a profile as we possibly can on a player which encompasses a number of things.
Once we have that kind of profile, then at this point its a matter of going through the board and I would say generally speaking its fairly well set but theres a vertical stacking and a horizontal stacking so then you start to go through it by position and look at the position individually but then relative to another position and then you start to work horizontally across.
The other thing that will come into play is well probably have a little more contact with some of the other clubs as we get a little bit closer to the draft, well have some of those discussions. Id say big picture the majority of the things have been completed. Now its just a matter of just pooling information, making sure that we feel comfortable about what we have on a player. Like I said, if theres anything outstanding that we dont feel good about, Ive personally gone out the day before the draft or even a few days before the draft to see a player, to work out a player that maybe we havent had as much exposure with during the spring or during the process. Well leave all avenues open, well explore it to the best of our abilities, this way come Thursday and the weekend, were ready to go. Q: Addressing the fact New England doesn't currently have any picks after the fourth round...
NC:Historically, theres been a lot of movement as it relates to our picks. Right now is where we are but the door is always open. I would say that those things kind of evolve as the draft sort of moves along. Well see how it goes. If we end up acquiring some of those picks back, great. If we dont, then well be prepared accordingly. I think we just have to let that play itself out and then see how it goes.But Id say that well still know that group of players, 100 through 250 or whatever it is so that were well versed so if theres an opportunity to make a decision on a player that we can go ahead and pull the trigger if we have the chance to do so.Q: In the end when you trade down and add picks for the next year, is that almost like buying stock in the next draft? You dont know what its going to look like but at least you have some latitude is that a decent analogy?NC: Maybe. It all depends on what you feel makes the most sense at the time. Weve traded back, weve traded up. It comes in many shapes and sizes. You try not to look too far into next year because theres an air of uncertainty. You dont really know what that quantity of players is going to look like. You may have some idea throughout the course of the fall when youre going through it but Id say for the most part youre focused on that year, youre focused on those players and youre just trying to figure out the value of the player, what his role is going to be for your team relative to where youre picking. Q: How would you categorize this draft?NC: Id say the influx of the underclassmen. I think its the most that applied for an evaluation through the league this year. Actually, I think its the most underclassmen that have declared and made themselves available. So the underclassmen are certainly a big part of the draft. Id say like every year, there are different positions, there are certain positions that are deeper than others. I think the quantity of front seven players, Id say is higher than its been in the past. There are some other positions where maybe there arent as many players. It evolves and it rotates every year. Id say every draft is sort of different just in terms of quality and quantity of player. Q: How hard is it to look at a Division II player and get a sense for how hes performing compared to a guy from Division I
NC: When youre looking at lower level competition players, whether its I-AA, Division II or Division III, youre looking for that player to really stand out relative to the rest of the competition. If hes a productive player at that level, part of you is anticipating that that production will carry over. Now, to what degree that is, thats another question. Theres a little bit more uncertainty because the players that hes playing against on a week-to-week basis are different than, lets just say, Luke Kuechly, who hes playing against on a week-to-week basis. You have to factor that into consideration. Id say its certainly part of our alert system, which we kind of talked about last year. You put the lower level of competition tag on him so that you know hes been a really productive player, youre not going to discount that but it has taken place against a lower level of competition. Youre trying to balance all those factors out, but in the end, if a guy is a good football player and hes a productive football player, that speaks volumes. You just have to figure out how thats going to translate over into our level. Q: On using positions of depth as trading chips for more picks.
NC: If those calls come then well listen. If its something that we feel makes sense, then well consider it. ... Id say most of those discussions are pretty generic or general. Well reach out to a team and just say, OK, you pick here, we pick here and just see whether or not they even entertain whether its moving up or moving down. Youre just trying to gauge what their level of interest is in doing any sort of business or any sort of transaction. But I would say honestly, those sort of materialize the day of the draft. I would say, just relative to where were picking right now, well talk to teams and kind of get a general sense of the landscape but until that actual moment comes, until were actually in the draft room and the phone rings, well listen and if its something that makes sense, well consider it and if not, then we wont.
Q: Do you look at the teams in front of you? Do you weigh the interests of other teams? How do you organize their interests and how much do you weigh it when youre trying to decide whether or not you should move up?NC: I think those are some discussions that well have next week. Our pro scouting staff, Jason Licht and Bob Quinn and those guys, we put together a needs analysis, or a needs book if you will and just try to look at the team, look at the landscape of the team, look at the players that theyve added, look at the players that theyve lost so you maybe get a general sense of where the team is at this particular point in time. So you have an idea. Maybe theres a player they visited or that theyve earmarked or may coincide with some of the players that youve looked at. You kind of weigh all those things and ultimately you decide, OK, if it makes sense and who are those players or if another player at another position has the same value. Well certainly look at that, Id say thats definitely part of our week before the draft process, just kind of having understanding of where other teams are with respect to this time of year.
Q: You said you made visits right before the draft. Any examples over the years?
NC: Sure. We actually went down, Dante Scarnecchia went down last year and saw Nate Solder the week before. There were a couple things we wanted to get some clarification on. It kind of solidified a few thoughts that we had. In the short term theres an example right there. Was that the end-all, was that the reason that we made the decision? I wouldnt say that necessarily was the case but Id say that was a part of it so you put all of that together. Nate is an example. There are other examples like that.
Q: Any like that that youve had personally?
NC: Yeah, whether or not I want to disclose that, thats another situation. Yeah, I cant even remember the year honestly, when it was, but I went and worked out a player, I want to say it literally was the day before and it was a later round draft pick as it turned out. But you get put on the spot a little bit because not a lot of people have seen the player or spent as much time with them this is back in the day when I was just trying to figure it all out.
Q: How do you reconcile guys who are still making decisions about their football futures like Brian Waters and Matt Light against what you have to do in a week at key positions?
NC: I think our thinking wont change. Well approach it the same way and well deal with things on a day-to-day basis however they unfold.
Q: Has Matt Light informed you either way?
NC: I think Matt made some comments yesterday from what I could gather so I dont really have anything to add other than what Matt said.