Bill Belichick has an inconsistent draft history.He has missed on first-rounders like Devin McCourty and Laurence Maroney. But he’s nailed mid-to-late round sleepers more than anyone else.
Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Julian Edelman, Brandon Spikes, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez – all of these guys were non-first round picks who Belichick grabbed out from under everyone’s noses.
In an NFL.com video today former NFL exec Mike Lombardi shared Belichick’s philosophy on the NFL Draft. Lombardi worked with Belichick in Cleveland in the mid-90s. Here are the three main parts of his draft strategy:
1. Build a team, don’t just collect talent. Lombardi stressed that Belichick focuses on “putting players in the right role.” He mentioned last year’s Eagles — a team of talented players that didn’t have specific roles and couldn’t play together — as an example of exactly what Belichick tries to avoid.
Whereas most teams just start stockpiling talent by picking the “best available” player after the second round, Belichick thinks about specific roles and how each player fits into the team structure.
2. Don’t fall in love with a player, look at value. Lombardi called Belichick a “stock broker” when it comes to the draft.
Here’s what he said about why he’s so willing to ditch his first-round picks: “His whole approach is value. … The key component for why he traded down all these years was the rising cost of rookie drafting. He didn’t want to bring someone into his locker room who was a top-five payroll of his team.”
3. Keep a small draft room. There are maybe four or five people in the room with Belichick during the draft. “He’s not looking for more opinions, he’s looking for the right opinions.”
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