Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference at the conclusion of the 2010 NFL Draft on Saturday, April 24, 2010.
BB: We only made one trade today. Things were going pretty fast today with the five-minute rounds, all the [compensatory] picks and the four rounds compressed together there. We had quite a few things going on. I thought we got off to a good start with Aaron Hernandez. He was a player that we, quite frankly, were surprised to have the opportunity to draft him in the fourth round. But I'm glad we did. I think he's got a good opportunity to help us at that position. I think we have three, with Alge [Crumpler], Rob [Gronkowski] and Aaron, we have three players that give us good competition at that position. Hopefully, they will complement each other. The fifth-round pick came as a result of our trade in the second round when we backed up a few spots and took Brandon Spikes. That ended up being a fifth-round pick. We thought that might be a spot where [Zoltan] Mesko would go, so fortunately we were able to draft him there. We had the combination there of Ted Larsen and Thomas Welch. We kind of debated on both those players. One, Larsen being an inside player and Welch being a tackle that had played right tackle his junior year at Vanderbilt when [Chris] Williams played on the left side. After Williams went to Chicago, then he flipped over and played the left side this year. He played a good part of the year on an injured ankle, so he showed a lot of toughness during the season. Those two combined together and our compensatory picks at the end, of course, ended up being the two defensive linemen [Brandon] Deaderick, [Kade] Weston and Zac Robinson. I feel like we added some players at a number of different positions, added some depth at our team. Some of the players that we talked about today fall into the same category that we talked about yesterday. [They] are guys that are tough that have played at a high level and produced well. We're excited about working with those guys next weekend when they come in. Of course, Devin [McCourty] was here today. We got a chance to spend some time with him this morning and he's excited to be here and we're excited to have him. We're looking forward to working with him as well. Overall, a pretty interesting weekend. We also announced the signing of Gerard Warren today. [There was] a lot of movement. [We're] looking forward to getting on the field and getting them out there and actually see them play football.
Q: Was Gerard Warren a result in not drafting a lot of defensive linemen?
BB: No, we've talked with him off and on. We were able to work that out. He's been a very productive player through the course of his career, especially in recent years he's been 70 percent roughly play time player, similar to Damione Lewis. [He has] a different style, but he's that same kind of productive player. He'll add to that group and I think he gives us a talented player in there that's been very productive. I think he'll be a good addition to our group.
Q: Do you look at Zac Robinson as a quarterback or receiver?
Q: Was there some flexibility there?
BB: I don't see it right now. We're going to play him at quarterback and we'll see how it goes. I don't anticipate him playing receiver. I expect him to play quarterback.
Q: How do you think Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski's skills complement each other?
BB: Both players have played on the line of scrimmage, but I think Aaron has shown more ability to play off the line of scrimmage and extend it from the formation. Rob's also done some of that. He's bigger than Aaron is. Aaron's probably a little quicker and has had a little more production in the passing game. Rob's probably had a little more production in the running game over the course of their careers. Not that they both don't do both. They both have production blocking and in the passing game and after the catch. I would say Rob's a little better blocker at this point and Aaron's a little better in the passing game at this point.
Q: Could their presence alter some of the different things you're able to do?
BB: We'll see. I don't know. We haven't even walked out on the field yet, so we'll see what they can do. I think they are both talented players. They both come from very good programs. Of course, Mike [Stoops] and Urban [Meyer] run an outstanding program at both places. I know those guys work hard. A lot's been demanded of them. They've been very productive in those programs against very good competition, so we're looking forward to working with them. What they'll be able to do? We'll just have to wait and see how that goes.
Q: Did you know that Brandon Spikes was a big Drew Bledsoe fan?
BB: Actually, I didn't. No.
Q: His first jersey was a Drew Bledsoe jersey.
BB: I knew he was a little kid and followed the Patriots, but no I didn't know he had that jersey.
Q: You drafted at least five guys who were captains. Is that normal or was that on purpose?
BB: I think players that are good players, but also have traits such as leadership, work ethic, good communications skills, toughness and those things end up being players who are elected leaders and representatives of their team - captains and so forth. A lot of times those follow each other. I mean we didn't go into the draft and say we just want to draft guys who were captains of their team. Certainly, the fact that they do that and put that together with the rest of the skills they have certainly add up for the players favor and a higher value for us.
Q: Along those lines, Zolton Mesko was a captain. How unique is that for a punter? They seem to spend so much time on their own.
BB: That is pretty unusual. He's a good player. I think he's a guy who's worked hard, has been productive in his career there and has obviously earned the respect of people he's been around. He's a big, good looking kid. I imagine he probably does most things that all the other players on the team do, as opposed to some kickers that really aren't at the same athletic level as other players on the team. I think he would be a lot closer to that than a lot of other guys would be.
Q: How would you assess the three-day draft? Did you like it?
BB: It was fine. When they schedule them we are there. When it's our turn to pick we'll turn them in. I've done them in one day. I've done them in two days. I've done them in three days. Whatever it is it is.
Q: What about the actual picks?
BB: I think we improved our team in the last three days. I think we definitely improved our team, so did everyone else in the league. Hopefully, our rate of improvement can be equal to or maybe a little bit better than some of the other ones. We hope. We picked ahead of some teams. We picked behind some teams. We'll see how all that comes together. But we had our opportunities and we tried to do the best with them that we could for our football team. We'll see how all of that turns out, but we're definitely better and we'll have guys that will help our football team. It's exciting to work with them. There will also be some free agents that hopefully we'll sign in the next day or so by the time we get into next week. Historically, we've gotten a player or two from there probably on average every year. So hopefully, there's even a player that we're not talking about right now that will help our football team. Whether that's Brian Hoyer, Pierre Woods or Mike Wright - whoever it happens to be. We've had a few of them, so we'll see how that pans out, too. But we're still working it. I know the drafts over and all that, but there's still opportunities to improve your team, have a more competitive camp and find somebody who wasn't drafted that comes in and can help your team. We'll see how that goes.
Q: When do you have to get down to, is it 80 or 85?
BB: You can never be over 80, players that sign contracts. The draft choices, unless they're signed, don't count as part of the 80 until they actually sign the contract, which of course at the beginning of training camp every player has to have a signed contract in order to participate in training camp. At the start of training camp, you will have 80 players with signed contracts and they will be the ones out on the field. Technically, today, you could have more than 80 players on your roster because the rookie draft choices, most of them probably all of them don't have signed contracts. The rookie free agents, after the draft, obviously sign and they count toward the 80. You can never be over the 80-man limit. That's 365 days a year.
Q: When you were entering the draft was there any specific characteristics that you wanted to come out with?
BB: I don't think there's anything new there really. I think you want to draft players that are tough, smart, that work hard, that are good instinctive players, that know how to play the game and that can make plays. Playmakers in the skill positions offensively and defensively or in the return game that can make plays. I'm not telling you anything new. We've tried to draft those players since I got here and I'm sure every other team in the league is trying to do basically the same thing. We certainly have guys that are tough, that have been productive and show the ability to come in and give our team what we feel like will benefit whether that's by position, by skill, their style of play or their work ethic. That's all part of it, too. We're always looking to improve those.
Q: On signing Gerard Warren, he and Richard Seymour and Damione Lewis were in the same draft class. Was there any question at the time whether you might take him in that draft?
BB: Well, all three of those players were in the same draft. It was Warren, then Seymour, then Damione Lewis, all in the same draft. We did a lot of work on all three of those players, as well as a lot of others. But Gerard was picked by Cleveland before we picked, so it was a non-factor for us. But it's interesting. All of those players have had good careers and it's interesting that within a calendar year all three of them were here.
Q: Speaking of Warren, do you see him at right defensive end, left defensive end?
BB: Well, he's played all over. He's played for the Raiders: he's played three technique, he's played one technique. For the Browns, he was an inside player. He usually played inside the tackles. In Denver, they moved him around a little bit as well. So I think that he's a guy that can really play from the tackle in. Like Damione Lewis, Ty Warren and Vince [Wilfork], guys like that, I don't think you're going to see him outside of the tackles very often. But from tackle to tackle, I think they can play from head-up-to-tackle to head-up-to-center and all of the spots in between. They've all done that. So he definitely has some versatility from both the left side, and the right side, and in different alignments in there, and on both early downs, and on passing downs - as Damione has, as Vince has. So think there's some versatility with players like that.
Q: Is Ted Larsen unique in the switch to center? You don't see a ton of guys drafted in that position and does his background make that a little more unique?
BB: Well, I think he's shown that he can play the position again at a very high level of competition there in the ACC. He played for Coach [Tom] O'Brien, who has developed a lot of offensive linemen pretty much wherever he's been, including guys that we've taken from [Boston College]. I think that he's shown that he can play at that level. He played in the Senior Bowl against other good players there. He has some position flexibility, but he hasn't played a lot of guard, but that's certainly a position where we'll work him at. He's kind of the reverse of [Rich] Ohrnberger. Rich was kind of a guard that we worked at center. Ted's more of a center that we will work at guard, so ultimately, hopefully, those guys will be able to play all three positions to some degree. I mean, we'll see how that goes, but that will be the expectation that we at least try there and see what happens.
Q: When you go into the draft, how much do you compare what you're going to be up against in the division? Obviously, you talked about Miami and New York and their running games and everything else. How much do you build to compete within the division?
BB: Well, I think you have to be aware of what you have to do to win, whether it's in the division or anywhere else. I think in general you know the teams that you're going to play. To some degree, you don't want to be totally mismatched. But I think it's really hard if you build a team around, 'We need this guy to play this team. And we need this guy to play against that team. And we need this other guy to play against this other team. And we need this other guy to match up against somebody on Pittsburgh and somebody else to match up against Cincinnati.' I just don't really think you can do it that way. But I think you've got to be aware if you're playing in a division where there are a lot of 4-3 teams and they have big defensive linemen, then your guards had better be ready to handle big people more. If you're playing against a division where there are a lot of 3-4 teams, then you're playing against the Ted Washington's of the world, then you better have a center that can hold up against them, or on the perimeter - same kind of thing. I think you kind of have to have an awareness of it if you're going to see a particular thing six times a year - 3-4 defenses, or big-time speed receivers that they throw a lot of deep balls to, if that's part of what the scheme is then you've got to have a way to defend those. So you have to keep that in mind. But I don't think you can build your football team that way. If you had, when the Jets changed coaches last year, Buffalo changes coaches this year and Miami changes coaches two years ago, you'd be changing your team every year or two actually if that happened. I think right now what you're not trying to do is to build your team the best you can for what you believe in, for what your program is and what your scheme is. There's got to be some modification to adapt to other players and the players that have come into our division - the Brandon Marshalls of the world. But you've got to be able to go out there and play against everybody, so I think it's more about that than it is about matching up against certain opponents this time of year.
Q: I know Robert Kraft earlier, the word he used to describe is physical. I think it's fair to say that that's what the Dolphins have been the last two years, that's what the Jets have been known to be. Is it that way now maybe more so than it was in previous years?
BB: I think that's a pretty common thing in the league - Baltimore's physical, Cincinnati's physical, Pittsburgh's physical, San Diego's physical, the Jets, Miami, Buffalo is going to go to a little more physical style of play with two backs. Chan [Gailey], in what he's done in the past, he's emphasized the running game. So, yeah, that's football. I think you've got to be physical. You've also got to defend the skill plays. If you can only do one thing, probably you're going to see a lot of whatever it is that you can't handle. You had better be ready to deal with all of it.