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Top Takeaways from Patriots Head Coach Jerod Mayo's Media Availability at the NFL Combine

The Patriots head coach met with reporters in Indianapolis to discuss his vision for the upcoming offseason and what he's looking for at the scouting combine.


Indianapolis, Ind. – The Patriots week at the NFL Combine is in full swing, with head coach Jerod Mayo meeting with reporters in Indianapolis on Wednesday morning. 

Mayo and members of his coaching staff arrived in Indy on Tuesday afternoon, joining Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf and the personnel department to be involved in formal interviews. Specifically, the focus remains on quarterback, receiver, and offensive line for the Patriots head coach, who spoke for roughly seven minutes at the JW Marriott in Indy.

Mayo echoed similar philosophies to the team-building phase of the offseason as Wolf, emphasizing drafting and developing players, keeping homegrown talent, and the Patriots priorities in the 2024 NFL Draft. As the Patriots saw after the 2021 season, going on a free-agency spending spree doesn't typically lend itself to building a sustained winner.

"It's hard to build a sustainable team through free agency," Mayo said. "But you do want those pieces that you can plug in. One thing I'll say about free agents is you have to make sure that they're a good culture fit or culture add as well."

"If you want to sustain success, I don't want to call it a slow burn because we will be competitive. We will put a good team out there. Will we win a championship? I don't know. I don't want to make those promises. But at the same time, I feel confident about our plan to really turn the ship around," Mayo added. 

One aspect of building through the draft that the Patriots plan on emphasizing more moving forward is playing younger players to give them the in-game reps to develop. To that point, Mayo said, "You want to play younger players because, first of all, they're cheaper. But you want to have a good mix, though. You need that 30-year-old who can settle everyone down."

New England has a projected $75 million in cap space, the fifth-most in the NFL at this juncture, with the legal tampering period set to begin on March 11 to kick off the free agency window. Although there's a strong possibility of external additions, the Pats head coach made it clear that the team would like to retain top free agents Kyle Dugger and Mike Onwenu. 

"I love those guys. I love Big Mike. He has the versatility to play guard or tackle. One of those guys that when he's going, he's dominant," Mayo said. "With Dugger, last year going into the season, there were some questions, can he communicate, and he squashed all that this year. He did a fantastic job in his new role without Devin [McCourty] there."

"You definitely want those pieces to stay. Going back to what I talked about earlier, you develop through the draft. So, if those guys stay, they've been raised here and they can help push the culture forward," Mayo concluded. 

As for using the franchise tag on either Dugger or Onwenu, Mayo said it's an option but also talked about keeping the Pats best internal free agents in New England for the long term. 

"That's always an option. But, at the same time with guys like that, you want those guys to be happy. You want them to be here for the long term, so that's the plan," Mayo said. 

With front office leaders and the head coach preaching sustainability, Mayo also told reporters what the process at the combine entails and what he's looking for in the draft. Mayo is in Indy to take part in formal interviews with prospects. Teams will have 18 minutes with each prospect, and for Mayo and Wolf, this is the first time they're meeting these future rookies. 

"Sometimes, guys walk in and just have a sense about them. Swag, I guess. Do the young kids still say swag? They are short interviews. But you can gain information just as far as the confidence level," Mayo said. "We are looking for someone who's very knowledgeable of not only the game but also self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses."

Along with his comments on quarterbacks, one quote that stood out from Wolf's availability on Tuesday, who Mayo confirmed will have the final say in personnel decisions, was "weaponizing" the offense. The Pats head coach layed out what adding those playmakers means to him, which should be music to Patriots fans ears for an offense that desperately needs difference-makers. 

"It looks like putting people on the offensive side of the ball that the defensive side has to prepare for whether that's double-teaming or anything like that," Mayo said. "You're always looking for bigger, faster, stronger players." 

The Patriots will meet with top quarterback prospects Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels in Indianapolis. However, the top of the QB class won't participate in on-field drills or athletic testing in Indy. Still, Mayo talked about some things he's looking for at the position. 

"Look, everyone wants the big arm, the mobility, and things like that. But I think it's important to get a sense of what type of competitor they are and their toughness," Mayo said. "You get on the film, and you talk through things. You want to see how they respond to adversity on the field, and you want to talk about some of the adversity they had off the field."

With Mayo pointing to mobility as a physical trait he's looking for in a quarterback, he separated mobility into two categories. First, there's pocket mobility. Then, there's mobility as a runner. 

"When you talk about mobility, you have to put it in two buckets. There's one where it's pocket awareness, where guys can slide around in the pocket and still run a 5.2 [second] 40. There's another type of mobility where you have the quicker guys that can get outside the pocket. There's more than one way to skin a cat," said the Patriots head coach. 

Lastly, a talking point in the media has been how the new regime is changing both the culture and football elements from the Bill Belichick era. Mayo has talked about being more collaborative, while Wolf told reporters that the Pats have changed their grading system in the draft and are hoping to build a more inclusive culture moving forward. Although those can be perceived as subtle jabs at the Belichick way, Mayo shot down those notions on Wednesday. 

"It's going to be different. Bill did a great job for a long period of time. I don't want you guys to take this as because we're changing as shots toward the previous regime. We will do it differently, and it'll feel different. But, at the end of the day, we would like to replicate the success the prior regime has had. I learned a lot from Bill and also his staff," Mayo said. 

The Patriots will move forward in Indianapolis with on-field drills beginning on Thursday, but the most important thing for teams are the interviews and medical evaluations. Those things will happen behind closed doors, where Mayo and Wolf will lead the Pats contingent.

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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