How do Patriots handle possible pre-draft disconnect between coaches, scouts on college prospects?

April 21, 2016 - 6:26 am

[caption id="attachment_94891" align="alignright" width="150"]Nick Caserio Nick Caserio[/caption] FOXBORO — The Patriots have cycled through a handful of positional coaches the last few seasons, including at offensive line, linebackers and safeties. With the great majority of those coaching changes coming in late winter/early spring — the late stages of the pre-draft process — it's natural to wonder how much if at all those coaching changes might impact their approach heading into draft weekend. Regardless of how long they've been around Foxboro, the coaches enter into the evaluation process much later than the scouts — they've been focused on the team all season long while the scouts have focused on the prospects. That's not to say that the positional coaches aren't on the pro day trail: Ivan Fears (running backs) and Dante Scarnecchia (offensive line) are just two coaches who have been routinely spotted on campuses in recent years. But ultimately, when it comes to the pre-draft process, it doesn't matter how long the coach has been on staff. Patriots personnel guru Nick Caserio said earlier this week that it's a collaborative effort between scouts, coaches and the front office. And while some prospects are debated more than others, it's something that involves everyone involved. "The coaches are involved in the process," he said earlier this week. "You're trying to take all the information, put it all together, and then make an assessment of how you feel that player is going to adjust or project what you're going to ask them to do. Like I said, sometimes it takes players a little bit longer relative to others. There's a lot of information that goes back and forth. There's a lot of dialogue." One of the things this offseason that has likely helped offset any transitional issues is that the changes that have been made on the coaching staff have been kept mostly in house. Brian Flores moved from coaching the safeties to the linebackers, while Stephen Belichick moved from his previous role as a coaching assistant to the safeties. And after two years in "retirement," Scarnecchia has returned to coach the offensive line. While there's always the possibility of a disconnect between a new coach, the scouting staff and the rest of the front office on a college prospect, when you have assistants who came of age in the New England system, the possibility of philosophical differences arising are minimized. "In the end we're trying to get it right the best we can," Caserio said of the pre-draft evaluation process. "The reality is that the way the draft is designed it doesn't always work out. I mean honestly, at times, it's a 50-50 coin flip. That's just the reality of it. So even if you think it's going to go a certain way, it may not go and you try to figure out, 'OK, well what can we do better or how can we adjust it?' "We're always trying to look at different ways of doing things, (looking) at our processes — whether that's playing, whether that's coaching, whether that's scouting, whether that's in the weight room," he added. "Just (trying) to figure out if there's something that we can improve how can we improve it and then how do we implement that improvement moving forward."