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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Fri Sep 24 - 12:00 AM | Sun Sep 26 - 10:40 AM

Bill Belichick Press Conf. (Part I)

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            **B:** Early Happy Easter to everybody. This has been a pretty busy time of year for us as everyone knows. Free agency, getting ready for the draft and working with a lot of our players here in the offseason program four days a week so that has been going pretty quickly, time has gone by pretty quickly for me. Just looking at the draft next weekend, each draft every year is unique. Where your team picks, the players that fall in that range, the needs of your team, the trends of the league and so forth and so on, everyone is unique. For me what this one is about right now is really broken up into thirds. We have three picks in the top seventy and then we go seventy picks, at this point, without a selection and then we have six picks in the next seventy. So just looking at it that way which is the way it sits right now there obviously is an opportunity in the first seventy picks to get three players that we will have pretty highly rated on our board. Then quite a bit of time is going to go by before we get to pick again and it is pretty hard to determine what will be left at that point. You never know until draft day and when you are looking at the picks from 140 to 200 there is quite a bit of uncertainty, but nevertheless I am sure that they will be good opportunity at that point in the draft and we have a number of picks in there, six picks total, three picks that are tradable so we have some flexibility in that area and that will be something that we will have to take a look at too. So right now we are really focusing on two main areas of the draft the higher end then kind of that second third for us, but as we all know on draft day things can take different turns and twists and we have to be prepared to pick in that middle seventy as well so that is the process that we are going through. We are allowed to have twenty players visit New England and we have done that. We had our last couple in today and I wouldn't really read too much into those visits, those players could be here for a number of different reasons and they are here for a number of different reasons and it is just a way for us to gather more information on those players which in some cases there is some information lacking and that is really why they are here for one reason or another. There are a lot of other guys that aren't here that we already have information on and we think just as highly or higher of than some of the ones that are here so I am not trying to send any message anybody about bringing guys in or what that means or doesn't mean. It just means that we were trying to get more information on those players.  

Q: Do you feel you have your future tackles on the team already with Adrian Klemm and Greg Robinson-Randall?

B: I think they are both good prospects and they both did a lot of good things last year. Neither one of them really has played consistently for a period of time to where I think that they have eliminated all of the questions about the position and maybe they will be able to do that this year.

Q: You have also added some free agents on the offensive line do you feel that you are set in that area right now, will that be a need in the draft at all?

B: I will just touch on that. We really signed eleven players which includes Matt Stevens even though he was with us at the end of last year and then became a unrestricted free agent. So we resigned him, but we really have added, in my mind, eleven new players to the team since the end of the year. Then a couple of other of guys that weren't in football last year, they had different circumstances like Larry Bowie and those types of guys. The main thing we wanted to do was address the depth of the team, which I thought, was, as I mentioned last year, probably the number one glaring weakness on the team. So we have tried to do that and we have done it in some positions and there are other positions that we still could upgrade our depth at without any questions. So specifically to answer your answer I would say no that the signing of (Joe) Panos and (Mike) Compton doesn't rule out anything on the offensive line. I think it does improve the depth on our team from where we were at the end of the year, but let me say this I don't think we could go into this draft eliminating any opportunity. We evaluate the players at every position and will continue to do so through the duration of the draft and if there is an opportunity to put a good player on the football team then we will do it. I don't think that any position has so much depth that we just couldn't or wouldn't pick a player that if the guy had enough value at that point in the draft we could do it.

Q: Can you talk about the running backs that are available, Deuce McAllister, LaDainianTomlinson, do you like those guys?

B: I think there is some good talent in the backs this year certainly those two players, (Lamont) Jordan, (Kevan) Barlow, Nebraska has two kids that both played and are pretty good, (Travis) Minor from Florida State. I mean there are a number of good backs in the draft and again our situation at running back is a lot better than it was last year, but I think it is still a little bit up in the air. I think the competition at that position is going to be strong. I really don't know how it is going to turn out, but I know that the competition there is going to be good. I think all four guys are working hard and are going to be very competitive in camp regardless of who else is or isn't here. I mean it maybe those four and there maybe one added to that group.

Q: Can you include (Robert) Edwards in that four?

B: Yes Edwards, (Patrick) Pass, (Kevin) Faulk and (J.R.) Redmond. I mean that is what we have right now and I think that if we had to go out there and start training camp tomorrow that those four guys would compete and compete hard and we will just see how it comes out. I don't really know what the results will be.

Q: So Edwards is completely ready to go?

B: Well he is getting there, he's getting there. He will be ready to go, but he just hasn't played football. He can train with everybody, he can compete with everybody in the offseason training and his strength, his conditioning, and his endurance and his speed all of that is coming along well.

Q: This draft is exceptionally deep at wide receiver do you kind of look for build in terms of finding someone who can compliment the shorter guys you have already?

B: I think this year's draft of wide receiver is comparable to a lot of the previous years drafts that I have been involved with. Receiver seems to be a position where every year there is going to be a handful of guys who really don't have very much college production for one reason or another. Either their offenses didn't throw the ball or couldn't throw the ball or the players weren't in college for very long to produce much of anything just because they don't have enough games, but those players are extremely talented. Some people see them as becoming superstars, but the fact is that they haven't established it, they haven't proven it at a high level. I think therefore the number of receivers annually gets pushed up there pretty high. Some of those guys make it, some of them don't.

Q: Would you like to see a guy who actually has done it?

B: Sure, well those guys are a lot easier to evaluate, the guys that have been out there and have done it over a consistent period of time. I think the one thing that you have to be careful with at the receiver position, especially in college and it is hard enough in the NFL, but especially in college is the quarterback. If you go back a couple of years ago at Tennessee when they had a receiver taken in the first round, you know a good receiver, but he is out of the league already he never made it in the NFL. Probably a lot of the reason that he was drafted had to do with the quarterback or quarterbacks meaning Peyton (Manning) and Tee Martin who were back to back there. So a guy coming out of a system like that is going to have a lot more production. I remember when we took Michael Jackson from Southern Miss in 1991 with the Browns. He was a converted quarterback, was trying to learn how to play the position, caught 19 passes his senior year and he went on to play in the league for seven or eight years whatever it was. So you know they come in all different shapes and sizes and different packages, but I think that receiver position is a tough one because a lot of those kids come out early. There are a number of juniors this year at that position and a lot of what they can and can't do it tied into either the quarterback or the offensive system that they are involved in. I remember back in the 1980s when I was back at the Giants there were a lot of players both receivers and quarterbacks that came out of BYU. Some made it and some didn't, but that was a passing offense and a lot of wishbone, option type of college style of offense at that point and BYU was throwing the ball a lot and they had some very productive receivers and quarterbacks. Some of them produced because they were good and some of them produced because they were in a productive system and that is the tough part of evaluating.

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            **Q: How active has it been trade-wise? Have a lot of teams been calling you to trade up or down? Are you in the financial position that if you wanted to trade up that cap-wise you could handle the signing bonus that it would take for a second or third pick? A lot of teams shy away from trading up for that reason.**  

B: Right, well on both of those questions I would say that this week has been a pretty quiet week in the league. The few people that I have talked to have all been pretty much in the same mode that we are in right now which is a lot of draft meetings, finalizing the board, getting all of the information put in place, tying up a lot of loose ends, getting physicals done, visiting players so forth and so on and I think the action on that will pick up quite a bit next week, I would expect it to. There hasn't been that much this week and I didn't expect that there would be too much, I wouldn't expect much in the next two days, but I think things will start flying around next week, I really do. Especially if teams start to really zero in and have a little bit better idea of what they do and don't want to do and then start trying to position themselves to do it. From a cap standpoint we are not in bad shape and it is a lot better than it was last year. Last year at this time, because I kind of annually go back through some pre-draft stuff last year about our team and the draft and the cap and so forth, we were only a couple hundred thousand dollars under the cap and we had to consider making a trade not only for our draft picks, but even if we traded for a player what the cap implications and all of that would be and looking at it now we are in a lot better shape than that. I think that we can pretty much trade for, I won't say any player, but even if we traded for a veteran player I would say for the most part the cap wouldn't be an issue.

Q: Do you have to be careful of trading out of that spot before the draft because you don't know what is going to unfold beforehand, like what happened to Miami a couple of years ago with Vonnie Holliday?

B: Anytime you kind of trade blindly that is the chance you take. If you do it I would imagine you would do it with the anticipation that you know what is going to be there and you are not going to be happy with it. I don't know how they felt about Holliday or anybody else so I can't say what their strategy was, but when you trade out of those picks early the reasons for doing it are number one you are pretty well convinced that you are not going to like what is there or number two that it may be your only opportunity to trade it for one reason or another. So if you think your only chance to trade at a certain level is prior to the draft and not in the draft for whatever reason then that would be the other reason for doing it.

Q: You have no way of knowing, but do you feel like you will like what is there at six?

B: We are pulling together some of the final pieces of information here, but I think in the end we are probably feel like, and I am not counting Michael Vick because it looks like he is pretty well spoken for so we are really picking fifth after that with what is there. I think that in the end we are going to end up with two, maybe three players that we are going to be able to say we would really hope that one of those guys is there when we pick at six. If that is the case and they are there then I think that we will say, 'Great this is what we want to do.' If those guys aren't there, and again I don't know who is going to be there, but I think if in the end that one of those two or three guys is out of the picture then we will have to decide whether we want to stay there and take somebody or try to trade the pick or maybe see what is happening, kind of what the trend of the draft looks like in the first hour and a half, we will see what our options are at that point.

Q: Would you say that there are six to seven guys who are very comparable to each other, not including (Michael) Vick, as opposed to two to three comparable guys and the next seven or eight?

B: I think that there are going to be questions about virtually every player on the board. It is a question of how big is the question, how much do you want to deal with whatever the problems are that come with that selections, either how it fits onto your system or some unknown question about the player that for whatever reason he just hasn't been able to answer it one way or the other for you. Those are the decisions that we will have to make. So there will be questions about the fifth player, the tenth player and more questions about the 25 player.

Q: A lot of times you get a breakdown, maybe seven or eight guys are rated as equal and then you have maybe 25 that are rated as equal, how does the top of this year's draft breakdown?

B: Well I think there are probably going to be two or three guys that we are going to feel, for our situation, our team, our evaluation, I think there are going to be two or three guys that have the fewest questions about them. Then I think there is going to be another group of guys maybe eight or ten guys, somewhere in that neighborhood, they are going to come a little bit under that, that there will be a little more of a gray area on. They are still good players and guys that I am sure will end up playing, but there will be something about them that is not quite as clear.

Q: One of those two or three you might be able to get at six?

B: I don't know. I don't know if anybody knows who the top six are this year. You can talk to different people and get it spun different ways. A lot of that is misinformation at this time of year anyway. I am not sure that there is a clear-cut group maybe like there has been some years.

Q: Those two or three that you think so highly of is it because they are going to be such great pros or because they are going to be good pros and they fill a need for your team?

B: I think it is a combination of all of the above. That they are good players, they're good people, they bring leadership and character to the football team and they are probably in positions that, all of the other things being equal, we would just assume see a player in those positions as some other ones.

Q: Would you take any players off the board for character issues the owner here obviously feels very strongly about that are there any guys that you have crossed off?

B: Well there are a number of players that I think just don't fit for us for whatever reason it could be a combination of things.

Q: Well strictly character…

B: Again it is usually not one thing it is usually a combination of things why a player doesn't fit. Sometimes it's scheme, it's the players skills, it's whatever the whole package is and again that is not to say that those players won't play in the league and really it is not to say that we wouldn't pick the player at some point as a free agent or something like that it is just that we don't really see him as a real good fit into our system to spend a draft choice on him.

Q: Do you have a mock draft board up in your war room?

B: No we are not really as concerned about what the other teams as what we are going to do. We don't really have any control over that and there have been trades on the first day of the draft, I don't know what is going to happen this year. There are going to be trades were teams jump and move ahead of other teams and the needs change and the players change and all of that. We have to be prepared to pick at six. We are prepared for the scenario that if we want to try to move out of there where would we be moving to, who do we think, but that is all just speculation. We can't really pinpoint it. The best thing we can do is prepare for each player and each situation and then as the situations come up during the draft try to access the information quickly and make good decisions.

Q: You must have some idea of these two to three players and if they are wanted by other teams or they fill the needs of other teams?

B: You can call those other teams yourself and I'm sure they will lie to you just like they will lie to us. I can call up Butch Davis and ask him what he is going to do, I don't think he is really going to tell me anymore than I would tell the Bears behind us what we are planning on doing. Not that I even know what we are going to do, there are still several picks ahead of us that are unspoken for. There is a lot of lying going on at this time of year.

Q: Can you talk about the defensive line? Is that something you need to address in that first part of the draft and does your style of play eliminate a lot of defensive linemen?

B: I don't think that anything that we do on offense or defense eliminates good players. I think that some players fit better than others, but I think that I have had enough experience coaching all types of players at different positions that people have been productive and they have been different styles and come in different shapes and sizes. I don't think it eliminates people, but I think that some people do fit better a little better than others and we take that into consideration. Defensive line is probably not quite as good at the very top as it was last year and there maybe a few more players in the mid-first to mid-second round maybe more defensive linemen come off the board this year at that spot than there was last year, it wouldn't surprise me. I don't know, I am not sure that you will see quite as high the last picks as you saw last year Courtney Brown, Corey Simon and some of those guys that went real early. But there were some good defensive linemen taken picked even in the second round last year Cornelius Griffin, John Engelberger, Erik Flowers those guys all played and contributed last year. I think that the defensive linemen will run through the first two rounds and then after that then the drop off comes usually in terms of pass production. Most of the pass rushers and the guys that are projected to be able to rush the quarterback are pretty well gone by the second round.

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