Patriots

Lombardi: Patriots will ask themselves if trading out of second round was right move

Lombardi: Patriots will ask themselves if trading out of second round was right move

We're more than a week removed from draft weekend. Rookies will be making their way to Foxboro soon. But that doesn't mean we can't wonder how things might've played out differently. 

That's exactly what the Patriots did after the draft, according to former assistant to the coaching staff Mike Lombardi. On The GM Shuffle, his podcast with Adnan Virk, Lombardi explained that Bill Belichick and his staff would've gone back and looked at the draft to see what they could've learned from the process -- almost like breaking down film after a game to see what needed to be corrected.

Lombardi used the Raiders draft as his jumping-off point for the discussion on the importance of reviewing the weekend.

"You should always take snapshots of the board," Lombardi said. "Good teams take snapshots of their draft board. Let's say at No. 14 we take a snapshot. At No. 19 we take a snapshot. At No. 24 when we're on the clock [we take a snapshot].

"What you want to do [following the draft] is you want to go back in the room. You want to look at this and say, 'You know what, I think we blew an opportunity here.' We picked [Josh] Jacobs at No. 24. Look at the board here. We could've done this. We could've done that.' Then do it for the second round. Do it for the third round. What happens is you just start becoming a very false duality A-to-B, A-to-B, A-to-B as opposed to really taking a step back and looking at it."

Lombardi, who was in the Patriots "war room" for drafts during his tenure in New England, explained the Patriots are among those teams that take snapshots of their board mid-draft.

"This week, the smart teams, like New England, they've taken snap shots of the board. They know when they were sitting there at the bottom of the second and they traded out, they lost potentially some good players. They got the guy in the third, they picked, I think, Damien Harris in the third. But they lost some good players. 

"They'll go back and re-visit, was that the right trade to make? Would we rather have a receiver, say Jalen Hurd who got picked by San Francisco at the top [of the third round]? Or the defensive lineman from Boston College? Whatever it is. You have to look at that and analyze it because if you don't, then you're just sitting there. Then you're just a fan."

The Patriots made four trades on Day 2 of the draft, but the one to which Lombardi is referring is when they dealt No. 64 -- their second second-round pick -- to the Seahawks. In return, Belichick received pick No. 77 and No. 118. That left the Patriots staring at No. 73 as their next pick, with No. 77 right on its heels.

That gap from No. 64 to No. 73, though, as Lombardi referenced, saw some intriguing Patriots fits fly off the board. Zach Allen, the defensive lineman from BC, was taken at No. 65. Hurd went off to the Niners at No. 67. San Jose State tight end Josh Oliver -- who has Rob Gronkowski-sized hands and some intriguing traits as a move tight end -- was selected by the Jaguars at pick No. 69.

When it was time for the Patriots to pick at No. 73, they opted to trade back again. In that deal they packaged No. 73 and No. 205 to get No. 87 and No. 162.

Perhaps at that point in the draft they felt as though the player they wanted all along would still be there at No. 77. That's where they ended up taking Michigan pass-rusher Chase Winovich. If that was the case, then why not continue to trade back and pick up draft capital?

The flip side to that . . . Perhaps the Patriots had their eyes on Allen or Hurd or someone else at No. 73. When one of those players didn't get there, then the call was made to trade back again.

By trading out of No. 73 and picking next at No. 77, the Patriots lost the opportunity to take running back David Montgomery (No. 73), tight end Jace Sternberger (No. 75) and receiver Terry McLaurin (No. 76). Had they felt very strongly about one or more of those players, they could've pounced at No. 73. They didn't.

But consider this alternate reality: The Patriots take Allen at No. 64 and Sternberger at No. 73 -- a combination that might've been met with rave reviews from fans and addressed a need at the tight end spot. The Patriots instead ended up with Winovich at No. 77, Harris at No. 87 and Hjalte Froholdt at No. 118. Pick No. 162 was traded to the Rams, who dealt it back to the Patriots, who eventually used it to help them land defensive lineman Byron Cowart at No. 159.

Belichick and Nick Caserio ended up with a nice haul with the way things played out. But would they have preferred something different? It might be a while before any of us can say for sure. But those are the kind of "what if?" scenarios good teams roll through in the aftermath of the draft, according to Lombardi. 

"When you're sitting there watching it," he said, "instead of patting yourself on the back saying, 'Oh God, we got this board graded out right.' No, you gotta figure out what you could've done better. Look, we're in the information business. If you're not analyzing the data, how are you gonna get better?"

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Fans overwhelmingly prefer Patriots go Stidham-Hoyer in 2020

Fans overwhelmingly prefer Patriots go Stidham-Hoyer in 2020

Why in God’s name do I keep reading and hearing “Cam Newton” and “Patriots” in the same sentence?  

Or Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton or any other backsliding veteran on the free-agent quarterback market?

Are people insane? Were they slumbering for the past 19 years? Or just a little forgetful?

The lead mule pulling their wagon for the past 20 years was a sixth-round pick. The only guy that filled in for the aforementioned sixth-rounder over an extended period was a seventh-round pick. The guy who was supposed to succeed the sixth-rounder was a second-rounder from a Div. II school.

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Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo were all overlooked, undervalued and brought into the Patriots laboratory where they turned into either good, really good or legendary quarterbacks. The Patriots brew their own quarterbacks, thank you very much.

And with a one-year hitch in salary cap jail hanging over them, they are not going to be in the market for someone looking to make a seven or eight-figure salary who just flunked out of a lesser team’s program.

The Patriots make their own brew, thank you very much.

Bill Belichick has the helmeted heads of so many first-rounders and first-overall picks mounted on his wall that suggesting he’d be in the market for a live one makes no sense.

During Tom Brady’s long goodbye, I was told by team sources the Patriots weren’t going to be chasing a veteran “name.” And their actions since have signaled that.

They are going with their fairly-promising fourth-rounder, Jarrett Stidham, and they have Brian Hoyer (undrafted free agent who came into the league with the Patriots in 2009) to take the reins if the Coronavirus-marred offseason means Stidham’s not ready.

And, thanks to our Quarantine Question of the Day posed Monday morning on Twitter, it’s clear most Patriots fans think that’s the right approach.

Of the 5,148 votes cast in six hours, 64.6 percent of respondents chose “Ride with Stidham/Hoyer” as the preferred Patriots approach for 2020.

Meanwhile, 12.2 percent felt that bringing in a rookie to compete with Stidham was the move to make. I suggested either Tua Tagovailoa or Jordan Love in the poll. Others suggested different options to battle Stidham as Brady’s successor.

I jokingly included an option to trade with the Bucs for Brady. A significant portion (17.4 percent) of the populace thought that was a capital idea (even though Brady has a no-trade clause).

There was a suggestion I didn’t hate -- grabbing Niners backup Nick Mullens to come in and push Stidham.

The least popular option was recycling someone like Newton. That option drew just 5.8 percent of the vote.

And one respondent had a hard time making his selection at all.

It happens. We’ll be back later in the week with more QUARANTINE QUESTIONS OF THE DAY!!!!

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities', says Matthew Slater

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities', says Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater is the latest New England Patriots player to give a positive review of young quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and after not getting many regular season reps as a rookie, he's now the leading candidate to replace Tom Brady after the six-time Super Bowl champion left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

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Taking over for the greatest quarterback in NFL history will be an enormous challenge for Stidham (or whoever wins the starting job for Week 1), but Slater is optimistic about the 23-year-old's talent and mental makeup.

"He's a great kid, and I think that’s the thing that is going to matter the most with any player – who is he as a man, who is he as a person, what’s he motivated by? He’s just a great kid to be around," Slater said Monday during a media conference call. "He brings a lot of positive energy, he’s always got a smile on his face, and you can tell he’s very appreciative of the opportunity that he had last year and the opportunity that he’ll have going forward. So, certainly he has a lot of great qualities that can make him a good player at the quarterback position. Coach Belichick and his staff wouldn’t have brought him in here if they didn’t think he had those qualities.

"I think at that position, almost more than any other, it’s going to be the intangibles that get a guy to maybe a successful position. So, I think he’s got some good traits. I think he’s going to be a good player. His attack, his approach is going to have to be one day at a time, just like any of us. I think it’s important, and I’ll certainly encourage him, just to be himself – be himself, continue to be the person that he is, continue to be the teammate that he is, and we’ll just take this thing one day at a time."

Slater isn't the only Patriots player who's given a positive review of Stidham of late. Veteran safety Devin McCourty praised Stidham's poise and maturity (among other qualities) during a recent episode of his "Double Coverage" podcast and on a media conference call last week.

Stidham showed flashes of his exciting potential during last year's training camp and preseason, and now he should get the opportunity to prove he's capable of being a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. Even though this will be a brand new and difficult challenge for him, he does have some good experience to help him. Stidham played against SEC competition for two years as Auburn's starting quarterback before spending all of 2019 learning from Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Patriots fans will love Slater's mindset on the team's 2020 goals