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Transcript: Eliot Wolf Press Conference 4/26

Read the full transcript from Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf's press conference on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

PATRIOTS DIRECTOR OF SCOUTING ELIOT WOLF

PRESS CONFERENCE
APRIL 26, 2024

Q: What was your thought process with this last pick of Caedan Wallace, taking him as a primarily right guard, considering that you had Michael Onwenu on the roster? Just kind of explain that decision to us.

EW: So, he was a guy that we felt was athletic enough to possibly make the switch over on the left side. Really good pass protector, really took a huge step forward this year as a four-year starter. Athletic, can bend, strong, powerful, tough. He could possibly play guard. We think he could be a four-position guy, but definitely feel like he can play on the left side.

Q: Let's go right to [Ja'Lynn] Polk. Give us the rundown on the receiver, if you would?

EW: Yeah, he's a guy that we had our eye on for a while. He's a really good fit in our offense. He's really tough, he's strong, he can run all the routes, play inside-outside. He's a good blocker. He's really competitive, both for the ball in the air and as a run-after-catch player. He's really just kind of a versatile, do-everything type guy. He ran a little bit faster than a lot of people expected, but when you turn the tape on, you see him running by people. So, definitely excited to add him to the mix.

Q: With Ja'Lynn Polk, is he a player that you could potentially see playing X receiver in the offense?

EW: Yeah, that's more of a question for Coach [Jerod] Mayo and [Alex] Van Pelt. But, the system that I come from, we never really talked much about X, Z, slot. We just really tried to add really good receivers, and it would end up working out for us. So, we feel like he's a guy that can play all the positions.

Q: Just going to move back to Polk, if we can. I was wondering how much influence Tyler Hughes maybe had on the pick? He obviously worked with him last year at Washington.

EW: Yeah, it definitely didn't hurt. Tyler knew him well, all those Washington guys. It was a good hire for us. Tyler's wealth of knowledge as a former head coach, and also being able to provide info on one of the best teams in the country last year at the University of Washington. We spent time with Ja'Lynn at the Senior Bowl, at the Combine. We didn't bring him in for a visit because there were really no other questions that we had about him. But, Tyler was obviously a proponent of all those guys, and it just kind of helps having that familiarity.

Q: So, Eliot, you said yesterday when I asked about supporting Drake Maye, you mentioned shoring up the offensive line and adding more offensive weapons. How happy are you with being able to do that here on day two of the draft?

EW: It felt really nicely for us. Polk was a guy we had targeted; Wallace was a guy we had targeted. We had some exploratory conversations about possibly moving back from 68, and then, it was just kind of like, 'Well, why? This is the guy that we had wanted all along.' So, sometimes it doesn't fall for you; it fell pretty nicely for us today.

Q: Eliot, this is bigger picture on trades. In your experience in draft rooms over the years, or even this year, what has been your experience when you're talking with a team that's close to you, maybe in the division or in the conference? Can that be an additional challenge if you're trying to execute something one way or the other?

EW: I think it can be at times. It depends on your relationship with the people that you're talking to. We feel like we have actually really good relationships with all our division teams. We have a lot of respect for Brandon Beane, Chris Grier and Joe Douglas. So, that hasn't been a roadblock for us so far.

Q: But, maybe just competitively? Relationships can be great, but competitively, do you ever find like you don't want to help them out? Or, maybe they don't want to help you out if they have other options?

EW: Yeah, I think that's something that can happen. Again, that hasn't happened yet for us so far. So, hopefully that doesn't happen tomorrow.

Q: Can you walk us through the decision to make the deal with the Chargers? And then secondly, I'm curious if you were surprised at the run of tackles there at the end of the second round?

EW: Yeah, so we felt like Polk was the player that we were going to pick at 34, and we felt based on some of the intel that we had from other teams that we would be able to trade back a little bit and still get him. So, we made that deal and were able to move up from the fifth to the fourth with the Chargers. Then, your point about the run of tackles is a good one. That's part of the reason we decided not to move back. It was just kind of like, 'Well, let's not chance it. This is the player we had targeted all along anyway. Let's just pick him.'

Q: With your presence here on this Zoom call press conference, does this mean you guys are done for the day? Or are you still exploring maybe coming back into the third?

EW: We're still going to do some exploration depending on how the board holds up. Obviously, I'm not keeping track of that right now, which has me pretty antsy, but we'll see how it goes.

Q: With taking Caedan, he's a guy who played his whole college career on the right side, and you also have the big extension from Mike Onwenu. That's two guys who have spent a lot of time on the right side. Is the team looking at either one of those guys and flipping over to the left side down the road?

EW: Yeah, we feel like Caedan has the athleticism to play over on the left side. Really, his teammate, Olu Fashanu, that the Jets drafted was the reason that he played on the right. So athletically, there's no reason why he couldn't make the switch over there. He's a really smart, dedicated kid that we feel like can handle that.

Q: It seems like with Drake Maye and Ja'Lynn Polk, that character stands out a lot in their profiles. What is it about Caedan Wallace in terms of an intangibles perspective that really stood out for you guys and made him your guy at Pick 68?

EW: Just from the intangibles, we brought him in for a pre-draft visit, and he's a really impressive kid. He comes from a great family. I think one of his brothers is like an oyster scientist or something like that. But, he was someone that we just got really comfortable with throughout the process. He's kind of a low-key guy, not real high energy until he gets in between those white lines and he goes after people.

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