The Patriots concluded their 2020 draft on Saturday, making a handful of final selections on the last day to give them ten new drafted players. The team filled a number of spots on their depth chart, including special attention along the edges of their defense and at tight end, and now they'll will continue their work by signing an important collection of undrafted free agents who will be given every opportunity to make the team.
Head coach Bill Belichick liked where the team ended up and was impressed with how smoothly the alternative draft process went.
"This is always a good opportunity to try to improve your football team and I feel like we did that this weekend," said Belichick in his post-draft video conference with the media. "We look forward to eventually getting those guys, being able to work with them. In the meantime, we'll do what we can do in terms of giving them information and tying to bring them up to speed with the playbook and training methods and so forth. We'll work through that. It will be a little different than what it's been in the past but we'll make the most of it. I'm excited to work with these guys."
Belichick acknowledged that it can be a challenging transition for the rookie players.
"I think this is a pretty hard working and mature group," the coach continued. "We'll see how all that plays out, too. It's a little different in college than it is in the National Football League. The challenges will be different, all that. Certainly seem to have represented themselves well in our interactions with them, what we've been able to determine from our scouts and so forth. It seems like a pretty solid group."
The complications from the coronavirus will now continue into the upcoming offseason program as the team tries to integrate the new rookies not only into their NFL system but into what will be for many their first professional work environment. Belichick detailed how the team planned to run the coming months.
"We'll have a rookie minicamp, if you will and take that time to orient the players the best we can to some of the things they're going to be dealing with and also to try to start the process of new terminology and nomenclature and terms and so forth. Eventually we'll follow that up with the rookie developmental period and that will eventually merge into a full-scale OTA type meeting schedule that we normally we have without the on-the-field work. We'll try to use that time to bring the team together in terms of putting our plays in and so forth and also trying to structure our training so that they can best prepare for the season."
The veterans were already off to a good start as they've embarked on this new style of offseason training.
"So far I would say after a week of meeting with the players last week that these Webex meetings have gone very well, in a way surprising, better than I would have expected," said Belichick. "Haven't really been any problems. Players are engaged. They're learning a lot of material and putting a lot of time and work in it. They're following the guidelines that we've given them in terms of their training program, on-the-field training program, weight lifting and so forth. There are obviously varying degrees of facilities, equipment and so forth. But one way or another I think they're finding a way to work around it, and we are too. I commend them for that. Hopefully we can string a few good weeks together and be the best prepared we can to get ready for training camp."
As for the real star of the weekend, Belichick offered a scouting assessment of his dog Nike, who stole the draft show after appearing in the coaches seat during the draft.
"Fast but not as fast as the rabbits he's chasing, but he's close," quipped the coach. "He's not that fast, but he's fast."