Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, December 08, 2009.
Q: What do you remember about local kid Mackenzy Bernadeau who played up at Bentley and are you surprised to see someone make it coming from a small school like that?
NC: He played left tackle and part of what happened was he got hurt part way through his senior year. I think he only played six games, so he had a knee injury. So he's coming off of that. He's coming off a knee injury and coming from a low-level competition. But I think with that position, especially offensive line, you're really looking for the requisite traits at that position - just in terms of their makeup, their toughness, their playing strength. And then you hope with a player like that, that if he has those necessary traits, that you bring him into your program and that you can develop him like we've done with some of the offensive linemen here in the past. He was somebody that we were certainly cognizant of, somebody that given the right opportunity, that we would want to work with and he's certainly made the most of his chances in Carolina and he's been competitive when he's played.
Q: With the college season over, how do things change for the personnel department?
NC: Really, actually right now, this week from our perspective is our initial round of draft meetings. So essentially, all games except for the bowl games have been completed to this point, so some players, their seasons are over. Other players, they might have another game or two. So really what you're trying to do is get your initial run-through, kind of go through your initial lists, your initial sort of stacking based on the information that you have to this point. Then what we'll do after December meetings, the next thing that really comes up on the docket are the postseason all-star games, whether that's the Senior Bowl, the Shrine Bowl. So that will be the next exposure for a lot of the players whose seasons are over. So really, you take all the information that you gather through the fall - you've had multiple people, multiple scouts have evaluated the same player. So now you're just trying to start to take all that information and sort of piece it together, and then really identify now, 'OK, what are our needs? What are the question marks specifically that we do have on a particular player?' And then we're going to go ahead and continue to investigate that here over the next however many months that it is. So really the next part of the equation will be the juniors who declare, make themselves eligible. And that information is made readily available to the clubs January 15.
Q: How does it work with scouting players at bowl games? Can you attend their practices?
NC: It's all based on restriction. Some schools will open their practices during their bowl preparation. So let's say a player missed games early in the season because he was injured. Now he's back up practicing and the restriction period at the time during the fall didn't enable you to go in there. Well, some clubs will open up their practices so you can actually go and view the practices from a scouting perspective. And then if you choose to attend a game, it's just like as if you were going to attend a game in the regular season. So that's another viewing opportunity for you to just gather some more information on a player if you choose to do that.
Q: Do you have an early read on what some of your needs might be heading towards the draft?
NC: Really, right now, it's more general. It's very player specific as it relates to kind of what the college player did during the season. So from a personnel perspective, you're kind of shuffling; in addition to the draft meetings, you're also dealing with the day-to-day needs, whether it's practice squad transactions or signing free agents or workouts. So really, it just adds to the equation and also shifting gears. Our focus, from my perspective, is twofold: handling some of that and also preparing for the game against Carolina. So I would say that the focus is more short term right now more than anything else.
Q: How close were you to trading for Julius Peppers? Talk about what went into those decisions.
NC: I think that time of the year you talk about a number of different players. You're going to have multiple discussions and I think whatever decisions we made, you know, that's what we ended up doing. We have the club and the team that we have now and he's on another club and we're moving on and that's kind of in the past.
Q: Among Greg Lewis, Joey Galloway and the inability of Shawn Springs to get on the field and Derrick Burgess hasn't been really productive either, have you looked at this group of free agents and veterans and said, 'We haven't really hit the way we wanted to on these'?
NC: I think ultimately we make the best decisions that we feel are best for the club. Sometimes there are some difficult decisions that you make. You'd like to keep everybody, but at the time whenever we make a decision, we make the decision that we feel is best for the club and we move forward. The players that we have on the club, they are here for a reason and we're happy that they're here. We like working with them. We see the value in the player. So what's done is done; it's in the past. You move forward and you sort of deal with the here and now. We're happy with the club that we have and we'll take that club and prepare ourselves for the Panthers.
Q: Any idea why Shawn Springs' preparation isn't matching up enough for him to get on the field?
NC: Well, I think each week, we go through and we make our personnel decisions as it relates to the game. Shawn is a smart guy, he works hard and he is an experienced guy. I mean, there is a lot that goes into the personnel decisions on a week-to-week basis. That's probably something that Bill [Belichick] can answer a little bit more specifically, but just from an organizational perspective, there's a lot that goes into it. We evaluate each week as its own entity and then we'll make the decisions on the game day roster that we feel are the best for the club and then we move forward.