Belichick doesn't tip hand on draft
FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots have received "quite a few calls" from teams interested in their second-round draft choices, coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday during a pre-draft news conference at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots have three second-round selections (Nos. 44, 47, 53).
"That isn't surprising to me," Belichick said of the inquiries. "I'm not saying that anything will or won't happen. I think that's pretty common at this point in the process, a week or so before the draft, where you start to talk to teams and try to get a feel for whether they would or wouldn't be interested in moving a particular pick. It expedites the process a little bit when you get to draft day."
Belichick, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans, said that interested teams haven't talked specifics on trades.
"It's more of 'Would you be interested in moving this pick, moving up, or moving down in the first round,' or whatever it happens to be?" he explained. "It's more in that nature."
The Patriots made seven trades on draft weekend in 2009, as Belichick has traditionally liked to wheel and deal. They have 12 total picks this year -- more than any other club -- with seven coming in the final two rounds.
Having four picks in the first two rounds certainly gives us the flexibility to move from where we're at, if we feel that's the right thing to do.” -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick
The sweet spot comes with the first four picks, the first-rounder (22nd overall) and three second-rounders. The Patriots are without third- and fifth-round selections from last year's trade for Derrick Burgess.
"Having four picks in the first two rounds certainly gives us the flexibility to move from where we're at, if we feel that's the right thing to do," Belichick said. "Or I'm sure if we pick four players at those positions, we should get four good-quality guys. We'll see how all that turns out. In the end, we'll try to do our homework and be prepared for whatever the opportunities are and hope we make the best of them."
One aspect that could contribute to more Patriots trades this year is the draft's three-day set-up, with the first round Thursday, the second and third rounds Friday, and the final four rounds on Saturday. With an overnight break before the second round, Belichick had previously anticipated that there could be a heavier trade market in that round because teams have more time to make decisions and re-stack their draft board.
Belichick defined the draft as unique in the sense that a high number of the top prospects have medical questions, some of whom did not play in 2009. "That's a little bit unusual," he said.
He also noted the 53 underclassmen declaring for the draft, another high number, and said teams "in a number of cases will have to look at those players and try to see where they are going to be a year from now."
Another aspect that Belichick pointed out was how college offenses have trended toward running quarterbacks and spread offenses, which has created a challenge for scouts, "clouding the picture" on more prospects.
Belichick said the Patriots' draft approach won't be affected by recent high-profile moves made by division rivals such as the Dolphins and Jets. At one point, asked a question about outside linebackers Brandon Graham (Michigan) and Sergio Kindle (Texas) and how they'd fit in the Patriots' scheme, Belichick smiled and responded: "You're getting into a lot of specifics."
That highlighted the fine line Belichick was walking. He wasn't about to tip off the Patriots' draft plans or how they've evaluated players.
Belichick called Graham and Kindle "outstanding players" who will "play in the league." He also praised Tim Tebow when asked about the former Florida quarterback.
When the questions were more general, Belichick's answers were longer, such as one on what the team looks for physically from prospects.
"We have a standard for every position -- height, weight and speed -- and other measurables that are standard for every position -- arm length and things like that," he said.
"Some players exceed that standard. Some players fall below it. It doesn't say that players that don't meet that standard aren't good players. Barry Sanders was short for a running back, but I don't think there are any complaints about the way Barry Sanders played. But I think when you draft a player like that, you understand you're drafting a player who is shorter than average for his position."
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