INDIANAPOLIS, IN. - The NFL's Scouting Combine kicked off on Tuesday with many of the coaches and general managers from around the league making an appearance for media availability. Though no Patriots coaches spoke, there were plenty of former scouts and coaches from New England that weighed in on their own new teams and their view of the Patriots now from the outside.
"I've learned a lot from Coach Belichick, we could talk here for a while about that, the lessons I've learned from him," said Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, who spent seven seasons with the Patriots in two different stints. "What he's done, I don't know if it will ever happen again, keeping it sustainable for as long as he has. I sure try to take a lot of those things that I learned there and apply them here [in Tampa Bay]."
Licht expounded upon some of the lessons he took from Belichick.
"Assigning values, knowing when it's time to move on from a player, knowing when it's time for fresh blood, but at the same time I don't like to let really good players go if we can help it."
One really good player both Belichick and now Licht have had to move on from is Tom Brady, as the quarterback announced his retirement last month. Licht valued the opportunity to build the relationship he had with Brady that started in New England and was rekindled in Tampa, with the Bucs winning a Super Bowl.
"I had some experience with him in New England so maybe I wasn't quite as wide-eyed as some of the people around the building but it was fantastic," said Licht, who added they'll leave the light on for Brady should he decide to unretire. "Just a special player and a special person. It's hard to say we'll ever come across another Tom Brady."
Mac Jones was another Patriots quarterback brought up during the opening day of interviews as new Giants head coach Brian Daboll was asked about his experience with Mac when they crossed paths at Alabama.
"Mac was a good player, obviously did a really good job this year, very proud of him," said Daboll, who spent 11 years himself with the Patriots during two different stints. "Building a relationship a few years ago with him and his family, watching him grow. I think he's got a bright future."
As more and more Patriots coaches and front office personnel make their way around the league, Texans GM Nick Caserio was asked if it makes things more competitive for the same kinds of players.
"You might be looking for some of similar traits and characteristics, in terms of intangibles, but then you have to look at alright, what are some of the things you're doing offensively, defensively, in the kicking game? What the Pats are looking for defensively, are those the same things we'd be looking for in Lovie [Smith's] system? It may or may not."
The college players will enter the Combine fray on Wednesday, with quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends scheduled to meet with the media, along with another contingent of coaches and GMs, including new Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.