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Eliot Wolf Discusses the Upcoming Offseason with at the NFL Combine 

The Patriots Director of Scouting sat down exclusively with to discuss free agency, the upcoming NFL Draft, and more from Indianapolis. 

Indianapolis, Ind. – The first time Patriots Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf came to the NFL Combine, he was a 10-year-old shadowing his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Ron Wolf. 

Wolf was soaking in his father, Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, and former Raiders owner Al Davis sitting with stopwatches timing prospects as they ran the 40-yard dash. The Patriots new personnel boss said it was at his first combine in 1993 that he began laying the groundwork for his career in scouting, which has now seen him rise to a leading role in New England's front office.

Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.
Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.

Speaking to at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Wolf outlined his scouting philosophy and discussed several hot-button topics on the upcoming offseason. Wolf also talked to the media at large at the Indianapolis Convention Center, where he told reporters that he'll have the final say on personnel moves for the Patriots moving forward.

Armed with a projected $75.9 million and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Wolf discussed how his roster-building philosophies will differ from his father. As the Packers general manager for nine seasons, Green Bay has always been a modest spender in free agency, focusing on drafting, developing, and extending homegrown talent.

The Patriots haven't had good fortune lately in adhering to those principles. Still, with the fifth-most cap space in the NFL this offseason, New England is expected to be aggressive in upgrading their roster, so how will Wolf's team-building tactics differ from the Packer Way?

"At the core is draft and develop. But there's different ways throughout the year to supplement your team, whether that's free agency, trades, waiver claims. You're doing yourself a disservice if you just say, 'Oh, we aren't going to do free agency this year," Wolf told "As we ascend in this program, there'll be times when it maybe doesn't make sense to sign as many high-priced free agents. But we have the resources, and we have a lot of improvement that's needed within the roster."

Although the focus is often on external free agents to improve the roster, the Patriots have two key internal free agents in starting safety Kyle Dugger and stud offensive lineman Mike Onwenu. According to reports, the Pats could use the franchise tag on Dugger, but that process is ongoing as New England mulls the many options it has with the roster.

"In regards to [Dugger and Onwenu], we'd love to keep those guys. Those guys are part of our core. We are excited to continue to work with them to make that happen," Wolf said. "I would say [the franchise tag] is an option. We'll keep all options open."

Moving on to a monumentally important draft for the franchise, Wolf explained where the Patriots are in the process of determining who they'll select in the first round, the role of head coach Jerod Mayo's new coaching staff in drafting players, and what stands out to him about this year's quarterback class.

"Obviously, the game film is an important piece of that. But we haven't even met, or I personally haven't met any of these guys yet, and neither has Jerod [Mayo]. We'll continue to work through the process. I would say we're on the fringes of being able to determine that, and the answer is the best player available."

Wolf also confirmed that the Patriots will be changing their grading system, going from role-specific grading to more of a value-based scale. New England will stack players differently rather than focusing on how players fill a specific role in former head coach Bill Belichick's system.

"We changed the grading system. It's similar to what we did in Green Bay. The previous Patriots system was more this is what the role is and this is more kind of value-based. It makes it a lot easier for scouts to rate guys and put them in a stack of this guy's the best, this guy is the worst, and everything in between falls into place," Wolf told reporters.

As for working with a new coaching staff, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt has an established system where he might favor certain types of players that fit his schemes. For example, New England expects to lean more into an outside zone rushing attack, which often lends itself to athletic offensive tackles who can block on the move.

"The key is working backward. So first, we identify who the really good players are in the draft and in free agency, and we work backward in terms of whether they fit what we want. Are they the type of person we want, first and foremost? Then, are they somebody that can fit in our scheme and do well?" Wolf told "The coaching staff at every position is going to play a big role. We don't want to force players on them that they don't like."

On the quarterbacks, Wolf said one trait that stands out to him about this rookie class while emphasizing the importance of leadership and body language.

"It's a good year for quarterbacks," Wolf began. "One trait that I'm really excited about, all these quarterbacks have, at least at the top of the draft, is they're all really tough guys. That's a great place to start at any position, but particularly quarterback, as the defensive linemen get faster and stronger, these guys get hit more often. Durability is really important."

As things develop in Indianapolis this week, many of the top prospects in this year's draft are opting out of on-field workouts at the combine, including top quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels and projected top-five pick WR Marvin Harrison Jr. For a team like the Patriots picking at the top of the draft, how does that impact their evaluations of those prospects?

"It doesn't [impact the Patriots]. We wish they would [work out at the combine]. But, at the end of the day, they're going to do what they think is best for them. I certainly respect that, and we'll be able to see them at a certain point someplace else," Wolf said.

For the Patriots new head coach and top personnel executive, changing the culture of a four-win football team is a top priority under the new regime. However, at the end of the day, New England will only get back to winning football games if they pick the right players.

Wolf's extensive experience in scouting and messaging is a source of optimism for the Patriots moving forward, but he'll be judged, like Mayo, by the product on the field. To that point, Wolf set an expectation that he's hoping the Patriots will meet on the field in the 2024 season.

"I think showing good progress in terms of turning the culture around and competing for the playoffs is something we aren't going to shy away from," Wolf stated.

The Patriots contingent led by Wolf and head coach Jerod Mayo are determined to make significant changes to get New England back on the right track for the 2024 season and beyond.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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