BB: Where are we here draft updates...we are still kind of pulling things together a little bit here right at the end. We are at the point where this is the last, tomorrow is actually the last day that we can bring in any college players for visits so that will conclude that part of it. We have brought in a number of players. Our coaches, some of them have been out on the road last week, some have been out on the road this week. There are still some workouts that are going right up to next week. Guys that for one reason or another haven't worked out, have been injured or they have had some type of circumstances where they will be working out this week or early into next week and so there is still some last minute things to clean up there and then basically we are trying to pull our board together and compile all of the information that we have picked up during the spring and the fall scouting that the scouts have done and try to get our board set.
Just a couple of things on the draft, I would say for me personally that this draft is similar to the 2000 draft in that by the time I got here at the end of January and trying to hire a staff and so forth and so on I didn't see nearly the number of players that I saw last year when I was able to start earlier in January after the 2000 season. So in that respect it is a little bit similar, that is not to say one draft is better or anything than the other just from a personal standpoint what I have been doing. I think that as an organization, a little bit of a late start. We have had to really try to hustle to get caught up particularly from the coaching standpoint, not the scouting, but the coaching standpoint. AS we are pulling it together there is 31 picks in front of us so we are really in a lot of respects at the mercy of what happens in front of us. We can't control any of those things so we just have to be prepared for what kind of drops in there to the latter part of the first round and from that point in the draft on down, again, similar to the 2000 draft when we picked in the second round which is where our pick was. A little bit of the same thing Sunday anticipating a waiting game for a number of ours before we are really in a position to do anything. That's pretty much how it is coming together. I would guess that with still a little bit of time left here that probably we would have in the neighborhood of 20 players that we would have first round grades on, on our board and we are obviously not picking in the top 20 so it will be interesting to see how they come off, but my guess would be that's about the way I see that shaping up at this point. People always ask and talk about the depth of the draft and the depth at different positions and so forth and I think it is okay to talk about that before the draft, but the reality of it is when you are picking in the fourth round or the fifth round all you can do is pick what is left up on the board. So it doesn't really matter whether this is a great year for linebackers or a great year for wide receivers, when you are picking there in the third and fourth round you are pretty much looking at a) what is left up on the board and maybe you might look in at the next round and see what might have a chance to be there when you pick again, but you are really more reacting to what is on there rather than being able to sit here a week before the draft and say, 'This draft has a lot of players in this position or that position.' You know once ten of the come off then maybe there isn't as much depth in that position and we saw last year for example the defensive line how quickly those players came off in the first round so whatever depth there was in that position there wasn't much when you pick again in the second round. Those would be some of the pre-draft thoughts that I can share with you here to kind of kickoff. Go ahead and fire away.
Q: Does it require you to be more creative in the middle rounds to try to get some value within those rounds?
BB: I think it is always important to know that those middle rounds in the draft, that middle part of the draft and of course it is true this year because it does look like we will have a couple of extra picks there, but that can all change in a hurry. We could potential use those picks to move up in earlier rounds or like we did last year when we didn't have the pick in the fourth round and we ended up with a number of mid-round picks and then actually ended up trading up into the fourth round when we started the draft the whole procedure without even having a fourth round pick. Those things can change in a hurry I think the big thing is to do your homework and wherever you are on the board, at whatever point, just try to evaluate what the opportunities there are and make decisions, but there is no question right now looking at the draft we would be saying, 'Well two picks in the fourth, two picks in the fifth there is a range in there where we are going to be picking four guys within whatever it is 50 spots or whatever the numbers are.'
Q: Talking about variables, one obviously is about Drew Bledsoe whether he is going to be traded, what you might get out of it…
BB: Let me just, I will make it real concise for you, I have said this from the first time I have been asked about it nothing has changed. I have nothing to say differently from what I have said in the past, the players that are under contract I expect them to be in training camp and we expect to work with them at that point and that's really all there is about it. I have never said anything but that and my position hasn't changed and neither has anything else. So whoever else is telling you all the other things you want to write about then you can talk to them, but that is my position and that's all I have got to say about it.
Q: So if Drew is still a Patriot and he is in training camp does he get to compete for the starting job?
BB: Right now everybody that is under contract and everybody that will be on our team in training camp will go to training camp and I think you have seen that we are going to play the best players and that is what our philosophy has been and that's what it is going to be and that is not about any player in particular it is about all of the players and all of the positions. So there is nothing that has changed there either.
Q: Have other teams been contacting you…
BB: I have not talked to anybody about any trades. There are always conversations about personnel that is part of Scott's [Pioli] job and if somebody calls Scott and he talks to him about it that is part of the job. If something substantial comes up I am sure that we will talk about it and to this point really nothing has and I am not looking to do anything so I really don't know and I don't have any expectations. Right now what I am trying to do is get ready for the draft and make sure that we are ready to make the decisions that we need to make on draft day. I would be very surprised if anything and not that we are looking to do anything, I am not saying that, I would be very surprised if anything happened before the draft in that area.
Q: Have you personally or your coaches or scouts had to set the organizational mindset coming off of the Super Bowl championship, do you have to forget that you are champions has that affected your evaluation at all, the success that you have had?
BB: I think that we have clearly put that behind us, yeah, our record is 0-0 just like everybody else. We would be happy right now with a one game winning streak in the '02 season so all of that is behind of us everything has got to be moving ahead. We are not sitting there with a mindset of if we can just duplicate exactly what happened last year things will be…that's not going to happen and we have already had some changes on our team from a personnel standpoint and we will make some changes within our system, and our playbook and that kind of thing, our schedules. I mean there are a lot of things that are different and we have to prepare for those things as they come along and it certainly is not a situation where we just want to duplicate day-by-day, minute-by-minute what happened a year ago. It is April, we are trying to strengthen our team as much as we can at this point in the season, it is the same thing that we did last year and it is the same thing we will do next year.
Q: Have the free agent signings had an affect on the draft?
BB: Well again I don't think we would go into the draft based on a signing in free agency, eliminating a good player from our system. I think that we would want and could use a good player on our football team at any position. The [Tom] Knight example that you brought up, Terrance Shaw signed in Oakland and currently Terrell [Buckley] is not under contract so I wouldn't say that we are ahead in that ledger at the corner position. No, I don't think our free agency rules would necessarily rule out or rule in anything. Of course in the draft we will try to look at players and take the guys that we think have the best chance to either develop into players or that can impact our team in the first year.
Q: People like to assign the needs to a team and that is where they will go, when we see the draft unfold is it more likely that you are just going to get the best athlete?
BB: I think it is a combination. The player has to fit for your team and he has to fit in to what you want to try to do, but again I don't think that…you know we haven't signed Reggie White and I am happy with the players that we have signed or we wouldn't have signed them and I do like that group, but I don't think that we have necessarily signed a Hall of Fame player or anything like that. The guys that have added depth and competition show our team that is what they have added and they will get a chance to compete along with the other people that are here and if we can add to that competition in the draft then that is what we are going to try to do.
Q: Have you talked to Scott about the number of teams that have contacted him about Bledsoe?
BB: No not really. He has filled me in on a couple of things that are not very likely to happen so we haven't wasted much time on them.
Q: Have there been many calls from teams just kind of discussing…
BB: I don't know.
Q: Saying couldn't this happen…
BB: I really don't know. Scott talks about players and talks with other teams all of the time. That is part of the job in personnel. You are always talking about players, you are always in conversation with other teams. Some things materialize and most don't. So if something were to materialize as it did in the Terry Glenn situation, as that started to become serious then I got more involved in it and we talked about it. Until it gets to that point I let Scott handle that and that's not something that I need to waste a lot of time on because he handles that, that is what he does. He fields all of those calls and I think it is better for one person to do it than for a lot of people to sift through it.
Q: Have you spent extra time on quarterbacks given that it could be a situation where you might draft one?
BB: We evaluate all of the positions we really do. We don't sit there and say, 'Well we are not going to draft a linebacker this year - let's not do the linebackers, we are not going to draft a quarterback this year – don't do the quarterbacks.' We try to look at all of the players so we can understand the value on the board like in the 2000 draft when we were sitting there with three quarterbacks and [Michael] Bishop as a young quarterback that there was some optimism and hope for and we still took [Tom] Brady because the value of the pick and I think you do that in any position and if you get good players either they improve and make the other players get better or they move ahead of them. That is what competition is about. So we wouldn't rule out any position or any player.
Q: Question Inaudible
BB: Well that is a real good question. I think that one of the things that we need and we are in the process of doing though is how much of a commitment we are going to make to the 3-4 defense this year. We are definitely going to play a four-man line, the question really is how much of a three-man line are we going to play and then that effects a little bit our personnel at linebacker. I don't think it is going to effect it that much on the defensive line because there aren't that many options at those positions, but it will certainly effect our linebackers and that really was the Bryan Cox situation. I talked to Bryan several times and the bottom line was that he had an opportunity from New Orleans and we just couldn't make a commitment and I couldn't sit there and tell him it is going to be like last year, we are going to be a base 34 defense, I couldn't tell him that and maybe we will. I am not saying we won't be in a 34 and I can't couldn't to it and I couldn't commit to him on that basis. So that is why he really couldn't feel that this would be my role and this would be my position if I were to come back here, I couldn't give him that at this point in time, but it is definitely a factor and it will be a factor in ultimately how we put the team together, but I think that at this point we are flexible enough to use both, it will definitely be a 4-3 base, but how much of the commitment will be to the 3-4 is kind of yet to be determined and that is something that Romeo [Crennel] and I have had some discussions about, but we haven't finalized that decision yet.
Q: Can you talk about the impact of Bledsoe not being here for the offseason-conditioning program?
BB: Well we have two players that really have not given us any indication or communication about their participation in the offseason program, everybody else has and basically they are all here working hard or we understand what their situation is, why they are not here if it happens to be a another circumstance, we have talked to all of those players. There are two that aren't and that is their choice, it is voluntary.
Q: Is Drew one of those two?
Q: Does that hurt his chances in terms of playing the best players and competition, does that hurt him depth chart-wise?
BB: Well we will evaluate the players based on their performance. Bryan Cox wasn't here last year, Roman Phifer wasn't here last year, I don't know how it will effect him. We will see what happens when they start playing.
Q: Have any of your losses personnel-wise hurt more than any others?
BB: You always want to try to keep as many players as you can and as many good players as you can and the system is what the system is. There are constraints on finances and there are constraints on number of players and even though we are not at the 80-man roster limit now we can see that coming with the draft and possible either free agent signings or college free agent acquisitions. We know where the target is and we will have to work within those. We can't keep everybody. Sometimes things work out and if they work out sooner rather than later then you can make a commitment to them, other times that can extend into later on in the spring or even almost into training camp again like we did with some of the players we just mentioned.
Q: How comfortable would you be going into camp with Brady and [Damon] Huard and not have Bledsoe as a fallback?
BB: I don't know where anybody is going they are all under contract so if they are under contract I expect them to be under contract.
Q: Are you concerned about the Sports Illustrated cover jinx?
BB: I really haven't had a lot of time to analyze all the covers on all of the magazines Sports Illustrated, Yachting, Good Housekeeping, trying to get ready for the draft and that is really…
Q: Are you into yachting?
BB: Well I don't know it could be important, I don't know who is on that cover either, but we really try to focus on the things that we can control and I think that certainly one of the things that we are going to have to deal with as Super Bowl champions is understanding and I think our coaches will do the job of driving it home to the players and the process has already started. We are into a new year. We are 0-0, everybody else is 0-0, we haven't won a game yet and we need to prepare to win one. It is a very challenging schedule, it will be a challenging year and we need to not worry about too much what happened last year, we need to focus on this year and I think that will do us well.
Q: Do you think that will be a challenge, a lot of these guys have gained celebrity from the Super Bowl, is that going to be tough?
BB: Well I think it is something that our team is going to have to handle. I mean we have handled a lot of things in the past. I think this is a new year, new challenges and we will have to handle a lot new things this year and that will be one of them. I think there will be a lot of other ones too that we will have to handle, how we do, we will know when the results start coming in.
Q: Will you trade Bledsoe if you couldn't get a number one pick from either this year or next, is that almost a requirement?
BB: If Scott brings something along on any player, this is not about any particular player, if he brings something up that is something that we should consider then we will talk about it and we will consider it.
Q: Given the uncertainty of the draft the 20 players you said you have on your board are they top ten caliber players so that if you were to move up in the first round…
BB: I don't know how we could move up from 32 to the top ten, that is just so far to go. It would probably be unprecedented really to move that far.
Q: Question Inaudible
BB: Well I think that is what we have to be prepared for is if we were to trade any of our mid-round picks or whatever the situation was even though we are at 32 now there is always a possibility that you could be drafting in the middle of the first round or in the middle of the second round. We could move out of 32 and move back to 45 or whatever. So that is just all part of the preparations for the draft. I think that realistically for us to get into the top half of the first round would be like I said almost unprecedented. If you look at all of the drafts historically it would almost be unprecedented so I don't think that that would be very likely given what we have to work with.
Q: Question Inaudible
BB: Again I think the process is you get your board lined up and you have your evaluations on the players. We are not going to pick first, we are not going to pick second, we are not going to pick third, we are not going to pick fourth. As the players start coming off then you start to see people fall and maybe they come into your range and maybe they don't, if you feel like they do and the value is there then you call the teams that are picking in front of you and if you want to move up then you try to move up, but if you don't think the value is there then you stay where you are and let it come to you and if the value is not there when you are on the clock then you try to move down or be prepared to take whoever the player is that you put the most value on. I mean it pretty much the same thing on every pick. It's really not a lot different on the first round than it is on the third, it is the same process.
Q: Could you talk about what you perceive the teams need's to be by position?
BB: Team's needs?
Q: Where you see your team's priorities by position? I realize that will change if you trade up?
BB: Trading won't effect our teams needs, what will effect our teams needs is if we were to add anybody prior to the draft and maybe those needs would be addressed. I mean I think if you just look at our performance last year it is kind of, I would say pretty obvious where the strengths and weakness were on the team. I mean we averaged one touchdown offensively in each of the three playoff games. So I think that is an area that we would like to improve on. Defensively we have age in all three areas of the defense. We have a lot of experienced players. Wherever we can add young talented ones we would add them. So offense and defense, I think our specialists did a pretty good job. I think we have a decent punt returner. So if you want to cross those off the immediate needs, I think you can cross kicker, punter, punt returner and probably long snapper. You could probably move those down below offense and defense.
Q: Overall in the draft position-wise on the field, where do you see this as a strong draft and maybe not so strong?
BB: That is a good question, again I think a lot of it depends on what is there when you are picking. I mean there could be good value in the early second and third rounds in one position and then you could get down to the fourth and fifth round and those areas could look relatively stronger and so many players come off the board. Once you get past the first round you don't know where the players are coming off from. It could be like it was last year. What was it eight defensive linemen in the first round so what looks like a lot of depth in the first round by the time you are picking in the second is no longer there based on last years draft. Sometimes that happens at other position receivers or running backs, you just never know.
Q: People say with the draft you judge it after two years, you had a draft last year where two rookies became starters and yet there are still some players from last year like Jabari Holiday…
Q: You know who I am talking about right?
BB: Right Jabari.
Q: But you still have a lot of players that we don't know about. Where do you see that draft in terms of what you have accomplished and what might lie ahead?
BB: Well I think you summed it up pretty well. Some productive players came out of the draft, there are some players that are no longer with us and there are other guys who have really had very little playing time Holloway, [Arther] Love, Kenyatta Jones to name a couple of guys that I think still…we are not unhappy that we drafted them, we think they still have a good future and for whatever reason they haven't had a good opportunity to show what they can do. Whether that is part on their end, part on the injury side, part on the situation on our depth at the pther positions, but whatever the factors are that's where they are and a lot of those players make a big jump from the first year to the second year. We have seen that before too where some guys didn't do anything their rookie year in the 2000 draft and were significant players in their second year and there are a couple of players that they may take three years. It is hard to say, I would say though that last year there were some good things, there were some other things that were up in the air and then there are a couple of guys obviously we missed.
Q: Is Andy Katzenmoyer working out?
BB: No I have not heard from Andy.
Q: Overall what are your scouts telling you about this draft in general, where the cutoff line should be for players that should be able to contribute within the first or second year?
BB: Well I think a little bit depends upon what you mean by contribute. If it is make your team and be on the 45-man active roster then you are probably looking at, like it usually is, that the numbers start to decline after the fourth round. If you are talking about make a team, make the 53-man roster then that is going to extend a little bit further particularly by position. There are certain positions that historically have a much higher tendency for the fifth, sixth, seventh round to make teams whereas other positions the frequency of those players making it is a lot lower. I will say this a lot of the players that contribute in rounds five, six and seven in the first year a lot of time comes out of need. For whatever reason the team just does not have any depth or they get guys hurt at that position and then those players end up getting a lot more playing time than either the player or the team expected when they drafted the player.
Q: Question Inaudible
BB: How much has it changed? I think most of the changes were right there after the game with the parade and the hoopla after we won and came back. Right now it is April we are trying to get ready for the draft and honestly I am not thinking a lot about the Super Bowl, I am thinking about next season and that is what we are trying to get our team focused on so I would say that the transition took a couple of weeks, a month. Not that there isn't a residual thing here or there like a trip to the White House, but our whole focus is we are moving onto '02. That's where we need to be and that's the challenges at hand. Nobody cares about last year any more. Certainly none of our competitors care about it and our team needs to address and I think it is addressing, but it needs to continue to focus and address the' 02 season and that is where the challenge is.
Q: Will you vote for [George] Bush the next time around?
BB: What makes you think I didn't vote for him the last time.