FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill Belichick's wrap-up news conference from the second day of the NFL Draft:
"We started off the day with two draft picks and finished the day with two picks and then added one here for tomorrow. I thought we were able to keep the guys on the board – most of the guys on the board that we were looking at when we took [Jake] Bequette in the third and then [Tavon] Wilson as a versatile secondary player that we took in the second round. He played primarily safety but also some nickel and dime-type responsibilities in their [Illinois] defense as well. He also has some corner background as well. He has some versatility; we’ll see where he fits in. Of course, Jake was a very productive guy in the SEC as a defensive end in their system. Did some linebacker stuff at the Combine and the all-star games but he’s primarily been a productive pass rusher for Arkansas over his four years in a good conference. We’ll see what we get there in the fifth round tomorrow. Then we’ll pursue the free agents, the guys that aren’t drafted, like we usually do. That’s the recap for today.
Can you address the thought process on the trade?
"We felt like there were enough players on the board and that they would last that we would be able to get a similar value in the third round for an additional fifth round pick. I think Jake is a good value there for us."
Did you have trouble finding willing trade partners in this draft?
"Each pick is a little bit different. Each pick has its own dynamic. We traded three of the four picks."
Were you surprised with what you saw Cleveland got five picks after you guys in their trade as opposed to what you got?
"There wasn’t a real steady consistent trade pattern, let’s put it that way. Some trades look better than others when you put them up against each other. In all honesty, the picks were moving pretty quickly and we focused more on what the opportunities were rather than trying to sit around and analyze each one. Again, a lot of it just depends on what is on the board, what you feel about what’s up there –how motivated you are to pick or how motivated you are to try to add picks and what the options are or yesterday, if you want to move up, what the cost is to move up or to stay where you are and keep the extra picks. Each one is kind of its own independent decision."
I think we assumed that you would try to trade because you wanted more picks later in the draft. Do you think other teams assumed that as well and weren’t going to give up as much value?
"I don’t know; you’d have to ask the other teams. I don’t know. That’s not really something we think about. We look at the value and if you feel like you’re getting a good value for your pick then you do it. If you feel like you can move it and maintain it, then you do it.
Did you field any calls on trying to drop back and still get Tavon Wilson?
"Again, each pick is its own pick. I’m not going to get into analysis on every call that was made. Honestly, I can’t remember them all anyway."
When you say there was no consistency with the trade value, do you think that the new CBA has changed the trade value chart?
"I don’t know. To make a trade, you have to have two people agree to it. So if two people agree, then whatever it is, it’s a good trade if you’re willing to accept the terms that someone else is willing to give you and vice versa. If it works for both teams, then you have a trade. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t make a difference what any chart says or what any value is. If two teams aren’t willing to make the exchange, then you don’t have a trade. I don’t care what the chart says."
Three of the first four guys you took were captains. How much of that is coincidence and how much of that is part of the pre-draft evaluation process?
"I guess it’s a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. So if you have a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, then captain is maybe one or two pieces in there somewhere. There are a million other things that go into it. Of course, leadership and character and the guy’s relationship with his teammates and his team and the respect that comes with – somehow or another that’s all interrelated. I don’t know exactly how. I don’t think it’s a negative thing. That’s certainly not the criteria for selecting a player either."
How many pieces of the puzzle is playing in the SEC or an outstanding conference?
"Yeah, level of competition is important. You can definitely see a guy like Jake [Bequette] over the last few years go against the Mississippi tackle, [Derek] Sherrod last year at Mississippi State, the Florida tackle last year, [James] Carpenter last year from Alabama, the big tackle, [Rokevious] Watkins from South Carolina. Over the last couple years, you can see him rushing against NFL players, either that are coming out in this year’s draft or that were in last year’s draft. Not to mention, [DeMarcus] Love who he worked against in practice on a regular basis for three years down there at Arkansas. I think that’s definitely part of the evaluation. It’s certainly helpful to see players work against other competitive players, whether it’s in their conference or an all-star game, Senior Bowl, East-West Game, things like that, you get that, certainly a higher level generally."
It seems like you have a bunch of guys now who are 6-4, 270-plus. What is it you like about that body type? Are you looking forward to that?
"Absolutely. We’ll see how it all plays out. I think that, generally speaking, the bigger they are the slower they run. In that 250-275ish range, depending on the actual individual, is where you usually get those times under five seconds – 4.9, 4.85, 4.8, whatever it is. That speed and quickness with a little lower weight in passing situations usually make those guys a little more active and gives them a little more speed, generally speaking. Not that you don’t need inside guys to push and power rush and stuff like that, but those guys have that advantage. We have a lot of big guys on our team. It seems like every year, the game is getting a little more spread out for us. We’re in nickel defense more and more every year – over 50 percent last year. Some of that is being ahead; some of that is teams in our division – Buffalo, you’re pretty much in nickel all day against them. That’s two games. It’s a high percentage of our defense, so that’s part of the reason we feel like we need that. It’s hard to be in our base defense as much as we were in the past."
Tavon Wilson seems unique with no Combine and no all-star games. It seems unique and there were fewer opportunities to see him play.
"He played plenty. You can see him plenty at Illinois. You can see him against whoever you want to see him against: all the Big Ten schools, Arizona State, teams that throw the ball. He’s playing corner, he’s playing safety, he’s playing the inside positions, the nickel position, the dime position – Michigan State, they’re a good passing team; Michigan, they’re a spread out offense team. There’s a lot of passing in that conference, Northwestern, all those teams."
It was hard to find information on Tavon Wilson. It wasn’t in some of these scouting books. Does this represent a gap between the teams’ scouting and the media books?
"Similar situation with [Sebastian] Vollmer a couple of years ago. We drafted guys – I think one year, didn’t we draft like three of four guys that were non-Combine guys? Some guys play in all-star games, some guys don’t. I don’t know who picks all those all-star teams. In all honesty, I don’t know who picks the Combine for that matter. How does [Brandon] Brooks not get invited to the Combine, kid from Miami, the offensive guard? How did Vollmer not get invited to the Combine? I don’t know. We can’t really worry about that. We just have to try to evaluate them the best we can. If they’re there, they’re there. If they’re not, they’re not. If they play in an all-star game, we look at it. If they don’t, they don’t."
With only five drafted guys, is there a number you want to get to with undrafted free agents for rookie minicamp?
"No. we don’t really care about that. It’s a two-day mini camp. We’re not going to build Rome in those two days anyway. It’s more of an orientation thing. We’re not going to do a rookie mini-camp until the second week in May, so we won’t see them until the 12th or whatever day it is. And they’re not allowed to start working out here until the 15th. So we’re just going to take that rookie mini camp and treat it kind of like the first few days of them being here for the offseason program, try to orient them into our system, the weight program, the conditioning program, all the things we do. Then, a couple days after that, whatever the date is, then we’ll just roll into the offseason program with them. So, whether we have them for the offseason program or have a few more guys for rookie mini camp, I don’t think that’s a big priority. The priority is to get the players that we have on the team, our draft choices and the guys that we sign, up to speed as quickly as we can so they can compete."
You knew you were going to have a small draft class. Did that play into how many guys you signed in free agency or is that just how it worked out?
"No. No, we signed players to our roster that we thought could help our team and be competitive in the positions that we signed them for. That’s why we… obviously there’s a limit. We can’t just go on and on forever. I feel like each player we signed in free agency, whether it was our player we re-signed or a player we took in from another team will be competitive in the position we signed him for. There’s obviously cost to that. In some cases we made financial commitments, some bigger than others, but that’s always the way it is. We’ll make draft commitments and then we’ll sign guys after the draft with other commitments in varying degrees. Each guy that we put out there we feel like can be competitive and has an opportunity to either make the team or compete for a practice squad spot, which, there are only so many of those available too. It’s not an unlimited competition on practice squad in the event the player doesn’t make the team. I’m not saying they can’t make the team, but certain players are eligible for practice squad who are currently on our roster. Obviously, the rookies would be eligible for that as well. Given the total scope of the competition, that’s kind of how we look at it."
Tavon Wilson said that you guys worked him out privately at Illinois. Who was there?
"Nick [Caserio] and Jon Robinson were there. We’ve crossed over a lot of these guys. I’m not sure I even keep track of who everybody worked out. Nick and Jon were both there."
Was there anything in his workout that caught their eye?
"No, I think his workout was consistent with the way he plays. I’d say that about [Jake] Bequette and I’d say that about [Dont’a] Hightower and I’d probably say that about Chandler Jones, too. I’d say those guys worked out consistently with what we saw on film. I think they’re all smart guys that can handle multiple responsibilities and had played at a good level and were productive at that level. Illinois, Syracuse, Alabama, Arkansas – those are all high level, competitive programs and those guys have all done well there for multiple years. I would say that when we went in to see those players, both in the interviews and the workouts and all that, that was represented in those meetings slash workouts."