Five takeaways from Caserio’s pre-draft press conference
Five takeaways from Caserio’s pre-draft press conference
By Tom E. Curran and Phil A. Perry
Nick Caserio gathered with assembled members of the New England media on Tuesday for his annual pre-draft press conference to hit on a number of Patriots-related topics. Among the talking points were the team's philosophy on taking risks, the difficulties of developing players at certain positions, and how changes to the college game have affected the pool of pro-ready talent.
We've already touched on Caserio's reaction to his team's lack of a first-round pick, and how he and the rest of the front office will approach the second round. Here are five more takeaways from Caserio's availability that are worth passing along:
MOVING UP? MOVING DOWN?
The Patriots are currently looking at a lengthy wait between picks after their last pick in the third round (No. 96 overall) and before their first pick in the sixth round (No. 196). With 11 selections in this year's draft -- four of which are compensatory picks and can't be dealt -- it's entirely possible that the team trades up or back to work itself into the fourth and fifth rounds.
Caserio explained on Tuesday that the Patriots were ready to pick where they're slotted at the moment, but that could very well change. If they hold tight with the choices they have, the 100-pick wait will be their first since 2012 when safety Nate Ebner came off the board in the sixth round 107 picks after tight end Jake Bequette (No. 90).
"The most important thing is kind of knowing the draft from top to bottom," Caserio said. "I mean, a couple of years ago we had five picks. We were going into the draft with five picks and we ended up with more so it can move both ways.
"I think the most important thing is knowing the players, knowing who you’re talking about, and then if you are going to make a decision to move up from where you are, who are you moving up for and what’s the rationale? So you try to weigh out a number of different things as you’re going through it.
"However it works itself out, we’re prepared to pick either way whether it’s from 96 to 196, whether we move, we’re prepared, we’re flexible. I think you have to keep an open mind with a lot of this. Nothings really set in stone, if you will."
CATCHING ON CAN BE TOUGH
The Patriots have had a difficult time in recent years finding productive receivers in the draft. Julian Edelman worked out better than anyone could have imagined as a seventh-round converted quarterback in 2009. And 2002 was a boon for New England at the position when it came away with both Deion Branch and David Givens. Aaron Dobson, Taylor Price and Chad Jackson are examples of others drafted to play out wide that didn't (or haven't yet, in Dobson's case) panned out.
The reasons it can be so difficult for new wideouts to grasp the Patriots system are several: The team asks its pass-catchers to be able to process a great deal of information quickly; its quarterback is a perfectionist and as demanding as any in the league; and compared to what many players are experiencing in college, learning the playbook can be like learning a foreign language.
While Caserio insisted that the issues of going from the college game to the pro game aren't limited to the receiver position, they are consistent for several different offensive spots.
"There are systematic issues, there are some communication issues just in terms of I would say offensively how teams operate," Caserio said. "There’s a lot of information that comes from the sideline. You’re basically looking at one particular individual or one coach for a hand signal or a number or you’re looking up at the cards. A lot of teams use those in college so you’re basically wiping the slate clean and you’re basically starting at a different point, I would say regardless of the position so you have to take that all into consideration and then project them into your system and the things that you’re going to ask them to do."
When asked about receivers, more than once Caserio actually pointed out the difficulty that offensive linemen can have when they make the jump from the college to the pro game.
Though linemen once seemed to be considered relatively safe projections from one level to the next, because of the styles of offenses that are prominent in the college game, it can be very difficult to figure out which big-bodied blockers will adjust to the pro game.
"Some players, honest to God, some offensive lineman have never been in a three-point stance so the number of times that they’re actually going to be in a three-point stance and have to run block is going to be infinitely more than they did in college," Caserio said. "There are some programs, honest to god, that throw the ball 75 times per game. They’ve never run blocked in their entire life so they’re making a transition and they’re going to be asked to do things that they haven’t been asked to do before."
Caserio added: "I’d say, the offensive line, that they have as many demands and challenges as any skill player. Change in protections, making adjustments at the line of scrimmage late in the play clock, you have to get the communication from the center to the guard out to the tackle, we’re going to go from one protection to this protection, we’re going to go from a run play to a pass play.
"I would say that there are a number of positions offensively that just there’s a lot of communication and there’s a lot of dialogue that is involved and some can handle it quicker than others, and then you figure out what they’re learning mechanism may or not be and how to get them to a point where they can go out and operate and function at a competitive level. I think that’s the most important thing."
HALL OF FAME SALUTE
PRAISE FOR SCOUTING STAFF
The Patriots scouting staff is rarely seen and never heard around here. But the NFL is aware of them which is why men like Thomas Dimitroff, Bob Quinn and Jon Robinson have all advanced to GM jobs in the league.
Caserio singled out Monti Ossenfort, the team’s Director of College Scouting since 2014, Brian Smith (Assistant Director of College Scouting), Jim Liipfert (National Scout) and DuJuan Daniels (National Scout) for specific praise.
"Those guys put in a lot of time, a lot of effort," said Caserio. "It’s kind of a culmination of a full year process, kind of a 12-month process that we’ll start up here [and] really wind down here at the end of the week here next week."