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Transcript: Eliot Wolf Press Conference 4/18

Read the full transcript from Eliot Wolf's press conference on Thursday, April 18, 2024. 

PATRIOTS DIRECTOR OF SCOUTING ELIOT WOLF

PRESS CONFERENCE

April 18, 2024

EW: Good morning. I wanted to thank you all for coming. It's been a while since we last spent some time together. I also wanted to thank the Krafts for their support. Thank Coach [Jerod] Mayo and his staff throughout this draft process, it's been great. Collaborating with them and working with them, you know, private workouts and zoom calls, and getting their reports in on those things. I wanted to thank the scouts for their tireless effort to get this draft class right, over the last, call it three years. Being away from their families, working on the road, digging out information, being passionate about what they do, and also representing the Patriots in a professional manner. And I also wanted to thank the families of the coaches and scouts for kind of putting up with us, putting up with these crazy schedules. You know, the coaches had a week off at the end of March and a lot of vacations were scheduled, and some of our coaches needed to leave their vacations to go to these pro days. So, we definitely appreciate the families. We're going to try to get this thing right and get it back going. So, with that being said, we'd like to take today to talk about the draft and talk about the draft process. So, if anyone has any questions?

Q: Right now, you're the final decision maker on this pick at number three. But Robert Kraft has talked about having an open GM search afterwards, maintaining a GM. Additionally, he's also said, I want to talk to your quarterback in the draft, that will be my preference. How does that dynamic of not being general manager and having final say, how was that impacted ,or is impacting, your move at three, what you personally recommend?

EW: Yeah, it doesn't really impact it much at all. We're just kind of putting our heads down and working. Obviously, at the end of the day, somebody has to make the decision. But there's a group of people that we're relying on to help make these decisions. Obviously, Coach Mayo's heavily involved, coaching staff and whatever coordinator on whatever side of the ball we pick, for each pick, and the scouting department. So, we're just really kind of focused on the long term, focused on what's right for the team.

Q: Do you personally feel at all as if you're, for lack of a better word, on trial with this?

EW: I haven't thought about it that way. That's an interesting way to think about it. No. Since I've been given this opportunity to work with these people, I've just kind of put my head down and tried to do things that I feel like are the best for the Patriots.

Q: When we talked to you at the combine, you said that you were the one who was going to be making the call ultimately at number three, has anything changed at this point?

EW: No. But again, if I'm the only person that wants a player, and everybody else in the building doesn't want that player then I'm not crazy. We're going to try to do what's right.

Q: Eliot, at this point, how would you characterize trade discussions with other teams? And with the team with the Patriots willingness to potentially move down?

EW: Yeah, so ongoing. We're open to anything. Moving up, moving down. We're open for business in the first round, and in every round. We have some holes we feel like we need to fill in the draft. We're drafting to develop the team. The more picks we have the better. But if there's an opportunity to move up and strike, if the board kind of recommends it, then we won't be afraid to pull the trigger on that either.

Q: Eliot, there were obviously six quarterbacks that people are mentioning. And obviously you're not going to mention them by name. Feel free if you want to, though. But how do you guys in general, have them rated? Do you have them all bunched together? Do you have them rated in terms of how they're going to be playing in 2024? Or you have them rated how they might be in 2025 and 2026? And beyond?

EW: Yeah, I'll address the second part of that first. It's a long-term decision. I mean, I guess that's the best way to characterize it. It's a long-term decision. We look it upside again, not just at the first pick but every pick. We look at the upside in the draft and we try to build out. We have positions where we think we need to supplement now. Kind of plug-and-play type players and we have other positions where we feel like we can draft and develop those people. So as far as the way we have them rated I'd prefer to not really get into that at this point at quarterback or in any other position.

Q: Whether you stay at three or move somewhere, do you feel like quarterback has to be the pick?

EW: No.

Q: How comfortable would you be taking one of the top three or four quarterbacks?

EW: I think we'd be comfortable with that.

Q: Do you feel that the roster as currently constructed is in a position to support a rookie quarterback next season?

EW: I do. I read a lot of that storyline. I'm not really sure what that means. We have a solid offensive line. We resigned Mike Onwenu, we have David Andrews coming back. We have three rookies that we drafted last year that are developing. We signed [Chukwuma] Okorafor from the Steelers. Hunter Henry. I mean, a good running game, a solid foundation and a solid system in place with coach [Alex] Van Pelt on the offense. So, I definitely feel like we can support that.

Q: Do you feel like there'll be a quarterback there at number three that should be a number three pick?

EW: Yeah.

Q: Who do you envision as the left tackle right now?

EW: I think if the season started today, which I get on the guys about using that phrase, because that can sometimes lead to bad decisions. You know, if we have a game tomorrow, we don't have a punt returner, stuff like that. If the season started tomorrow, I think it would be Okorafor. But that is probably more of a question for Coach Mayo.

Q: Even though he hasn't played much on that side?

EW: He played in there in college. And so we went back and watched that film, obviously evaluating him when he was coming out. And he's an athletic, big guy. So, we feel like he can make that transition back to playing on the left.

Q: How much time do you guys spend on kind of war game scenarios for 'Alright, we're sitting there at three. What do we do if Team X calls and offers us two first's and player X? Do you spend time now so you're not doing it in 15 minutes?

EW: Yeah, no, definitely. We spend time on all those scenarios. When you're picking this high, fortunately those teams that are interested are also doing that. And so, they'll reach out earlier than when we are on the clock. So that makes it a little bit easier in this particular situation.

Q: Have any introductory conversations at least taken place? Even foundational?

EW: Yeah, there have been conversations that have taken place.

Q: When you bring those quarterbacks in for their 30 visits, what are some things you look for?

EW: Get to know everyone. To see how they react around the coaches, around the support staff. The scouting assistants are a big part of it, taking them around. You know, we do a medical, they meet with the coaching staff, and they go through an install and a walkthrough. And really just kind of get a feel for them, you know, as much as they're getting a feel for us in our building. So, it's valuable, obviously, everyone has the film from their careers that they can watch and evaluate. But getting them in our situation and seeing how they react is a valuable part of the process.

Q: Eliot, you said earlier, you're not crazy if the whole room is thinking about one guy and you're thinking about somebody else, and you want to do what's best for the team? Is it important to have consensus on a player if you're going be drafting him at number three overall?

EW: Yeah, it helps. Definitely.

Q: Do you feel it's necessary?

EW: I mean, among the real true decision makers, I think it is, yes.

Q: Every team does it differently. Do you anticipate going to like a smaller decision-making group, when will that be and who will be in that sort of final group for you guys?

EW: I mean, again, picking so early, we can kind of work through the scenarios, not while the draft is going on. We've already had a lot of those conversations. As far as who will be involved, there's a smaller group of people that we'll talk to, both on the scouting side and the coaching side, and we'll get together, Jerod and I, and kind of work through that along with Matt Groh, whichever coordinator on whichever side of the ball and that'll happen in every pick. That's not just the first pick.

Q: With players being back in, what have you kind of noticed about Jerod Mayo's leadership style?

EW: That's an excellent question. And I'm really excited about Jerod interacting with the players. You guys all know Jerod, he has a great way about him, he's very calm and easy but also intelligent and intentional with what he says. So, it's been really cool kind of seeing him interact with the players and there's a nice vibe in the building right now. Again, you know, it's week one and nothing's happened that's bad yet.

Q: Do you feel like the players are just as excited?

EW: I think so. I think they are. I think it will be a good situation.

Q: With the history of drafting the receiver position, the Patriots haven't had much luck drafting and developing receivers, especially in early rounds compared to like the Packers. Is there anything you can sort of pinpoint to why that's been the case? How do you guys' sort of change that?

EW: That's a good question. I'm not totally sure how to answer that. I think the Packers had good success. Ted Thompson was phenomenal at drafting receivers and identifying receivers in the second and third round. You know, hopefully some of that rubs off on me, the things I've learned from him. I don't think there's any one thing that I can point to about why it hasn't worked here, or why it worked better there. I don't know how to answer that.

Q: It seems from the outside, mostly of the receiver slot types, do you feel there's players on the roster could fill that extra receiver role?

EW: I think we have players that can line up and play next. Do we have players that on a three-by-one can beat the backside coverage every single time? I'm not sure if we have that just yet. But we certainly have good receivers that we're excited about working with. K.J. Osborn can play all three positions. We have Kendrick Bourne coming back. Pop [DeMario Douglas], JuJu [Smith-Schuster], I mean, you know, the list goes on. We feel like we have NFL receivers.

Q: There's a lot of different ages with these quarterbacks, some are older, some of them are younger, how do you look at that in terms of development?

EW: Yeah, we don't really look at the age specifically, it's more the skill set. All of these guys have been coached well in college, some longer than others. But we feel like every individual's situation is different.

Q: Going back to the consensus idea. Jerod told us at the owners' meetings that he thought you guys were close to a consensus and how you feel about these quarterbacks. Are you there now among the top decision makers?

EW: We haven't had that final conversation yet. But I do think there's a general idea of how we feel about these players.

Q: Specific to the quarterbacks when you talk about toughness and leadership, do you hear that? Hear about it? Do you see it? And if it's seeing it, what do you look for? What tells you that the quarterback exhibits those traits you're looking for? Whether it's on the field, or when you bring them in face-to-face?

EW: I think when you watch the film, you're looking for it and you see it. Obviously, our scouts have been compiling information on these guys from their colleges for years, some of these guys from two different colleges. And that information is consistent, lines up, which always makes it easier. So, we have that amount of information from the colleges, and then you can kind of see how they act, how their body language is on tape. And then when you bring them in, it's really, do the people that are here, do the players that are here kind of gravitate to them while they're walking around the building, what type of personality do they have? And I would say I've been impressed with all the quarterbacks that we've talked to, in that regard this year.

Q: What was your perspective on what broke down with the pursuit of Calvin Ridley?

EW: Another team offered more money would be the main thing.

Q: If another team is willing to offer the bag, like it's something you got to consider, has a bag made its way to your desk to consider at this point, in terms of a trade offer for number three?

EW: No. Not yet.

Q: Is that unusual that it hasn't happened yet? Or is it?

EW: I don't know. I mean, it can work both ways. I mean, they have up until you know, we're on the clock. So, I've seen it in both ways. I was actually at the BYU pro day a couple of years ago, when San Francisco made that trade to go up to three. And we were all there watching one of the quarterbacks. So, it was kind of an interesting buzz just to be at the pro day.

Q: I'm curious back in 2018, you were part of the Browns team to take Baker Mayfield at number one overall. How has your philosophy in terms of what you're looking for in quarterbacks, especially high in the draft changed?

EW: I don't think it has. Every situation is unique. I mean, obviously Lamar Jackson is a Hall of Famer, and we didn't pick him. So that's not a great look. But also, if we picked Lamar Jackson at one, you know, we'd probably have had to pack our bags at that point, too. So, nothing's really changed. We're still looking for the good player. And, you know, I think in this situation, we're going to have the support that's needed for that quarterback, if we draft one, whoever it is, we're going to have a situation where they're supported in every way possible to make them succeed.

Q: Getting back to the support part. Do you feel people are underestimating your wide receiver room and or what you have at the tackle position?

EW: I do, yes. I mean, we have NFL receivers, we have NFL tight ends, we have NFL running backs, we have NFL offensive lineman. We feel good about where we are and we feel through free agency, on the offensive side in particular, that we've been able to supplement our roster properly, so we're not having to draft for need as much offensively.

Q: A few weeks ago, Jerod was talking about the receiver and how you guys were open to a trade. But he also said that hopefully a clearer picture kind of comes forth in the next few weeks. Is that an avenue you're still pursuing? Or are you now focused on the draft?

EW: We've had conversations with teams about different scenarios, not just the receiver, but at other positions. So that's definitely something that we'd be open to.

Q: We haven't heard from you since the combine. Just curious. Why did you guys' sign Jacoby Brissett? And what kind of role do you envision him playing this offseason through training camp?

EW: Yeah, we signed Jacoby because he's a good player. He's a big, strong, relentless preparer, in terms of his ability to take the game plan and apply it through the week to Sunday. He's got a good arm. He's big and strong. And we feel like if we end up drafting a quarterback high, he is someone that can support that player and would be a positive influence on them, while competing with them.

Q: If you look at players throughout the draft, you look at players and say that kid's a good football player, that kid's a good athlete who happens to be good at football, is there a difference between the two and what's more important to you, a football player or an athlete?

EW: A football player is more important. I think when you get a football player that also has those athletic skills, that's kind of what we're looking for. Will we take some chances on height, weight, speed in the later rounds? We might. It kind of just depends how the board falls. I would say we're always going to err on the side of having good football players. But if you can get the good football player with those athletic scores that combined into what you're looking for, that's ideal.

Q: You spent a lot of time with both Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy. Could you tell us what maybe has impressed you most about both those two specific guys?

EW: I would say the best thing is kind of hearing what their teammates say about them. They're both very well thought of by all their teammates. Obviously, Michigan has a ton of guys in the draft. North Carolina, not as many, but they still have some significant guys. And it's just hearing how impressive they are as teammates, as people, as leaders. And again, I know you singled out two of them. I would say that's been impressive. I think it's a unique year, I'd say that's been impressive with all six of these quarterbacks that are kind of the top guys.

Q: Between Maye, McCarthy and [Jayden] Daniel's? Could you legitimately envision yourself saying any of these guys would be absolutely fine to run our team?

EW: Yeah, I think that's fair. And I think you could open it up to some other names as well. I think it's really unique here.

Q: Jerod Mayo spoke about seeing the ceiling on a guy like Drake Maye but you also have to look at the floor. Do you share that same sentiment? And can you talk about your confidence that you have on Alex Van Pelt, Ben McAdoo and T.C. McCartney to develop a quarterback?

EW: Yeah, I think that's every player. I think you have to weigh the good and the bad on every player, not just the quarterback. Based on what I've seen so far, which is not a lot, I have good confidence in Alex, Ben and T.C. They all have a nice, calm way about them. They all believe in establishing relationships with players. And they've all been successful at developing players. So, that's how I'd answer that one.

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