Perry: Offensive draft picks who fit Belichick's 90s scouting wish list originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Two years ago, around this time, we had a nice little Patriots-related draft nugget dropped onto our timelines when former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah tweeted out a few pages of a 1990s scouting guide from the Browns organization.
Running the Browns at the time? Bill Belichick.Jeremiah, now NFL Media's lead draft analyst, worked as a scout for the Ravens who of course were born out of the Browns organization. Somehow in the exchange of information over Jeremiah's years in Baltimore, he'd come across this wish list of traits that told scouts what Belichick wanted at each position on the field.
I think youâll enjoy this... We were given this handout during a scout school from my time with the Ravens. Coach Belichick has held true to almost all of this over the years. pic.twitter.com/pWB3oqo5JU
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 31, 2020
The fun part for us now is we can look at the wish list every year and try to peg players who look like fits based on the criteria Belichick laid out. Understanding the criteria has likely changed multiple times in the last 30 years, understanding that not everyone on this list is the ultimate example of a Prototypical Patriot, the information still applies.When we looked at offensive fits based on this Browns scouting checklist, we highlighted both Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene as the two best fits at tight end in 2020. Both ended up being taken by the Patriots in the third round. Last year, Mac Jones was clearly the top fit at quarterback ... and we know what happened at No. 15 overall.Here we'll go position-by-position, spell out what Belichick was looking for back in the day, then name a prospect from this year's class who seems to fit the description.
Belichick's offensive line wish list
Big guys who are strong, powerful players. Guys who have the frame to get bigger. Knock someone off the ball and keep defenders on [the line of scrimmage] vs. pass. Big guards vs. 3-4 LBs. OTs who can get their hands on people. Not necessarily have to be great athletes due to [the] quick five-step passing game. Can use a slightly dumber guy who is a good athlete. He needs to be able to block the right guy. Need to recognize fronts and be smart enough to block the right guy. Guys who get penalized a lot are not what we want. Big. Strong. Physical. Nasty. Smart.Tackle: Trevor Penning, Northern IowaPenning and Tulsa's Tyler Smith are strong players with intimidating frames who fit the New England mold, but both are the definition of "guys who get penalized a lot." Belichick may be willing to bend on that, as he was with Logan Mankins back in 2005. "It's a lot easier to tone him down than try to put him in the other direction," Belichick said at the time. If that's the case, Penning is otherwise a great fit. "Big. Strong. Physical. Nasty. Smart." The 6-foot-7, 333-pounder threw up 28 reps of 225 pounds on the bench with 34-inch arms. There's power there in his upper body and in his lower body as well as he reportedly broke Northern Iowa's squat record (625 pounds) while on campus. And he may be the nastiest lineman in this draft. It gets him into trouble with penalties. It ruffled feathers at the Senior Bowl. But if the Patriots feel they can get him to be more disciplined, they'd have an intriguing first-round tackle on their hands.
Interior: Kenyon Green, Texas A&MDoes Belichick still need "big guards" to play against big inside linebackers in 3-4 schemes the same way he did in 1991? Probably not. Those 250-pound linebackers are rare these days. And athleticism along the line, especially on the interior, has become more important as defensive tackles have become more explosive. But for the purposes of this list, Green (6-foot-4, 323 pounds) makes a ton of sense. He's played at four positions on the line and at Texas A&M he was coached by Jimbo Fisher, just as other Patriots picks (Bryan Stork, Tre Jackson) have been. He's a fit in Foxboro.
Belichick's tight end wish list
No. 1 has to be a catcher, Ozzie Newsome, Keither Jackson types. Don't need the offensive line type guy in a TE's jersey. Take what we can get from him on the blocking. Just get in the way and tie up. We can work around his blocking ability. Catch, run, block. No. 2 or 3 TE needs to be the blocker for situational running situations. Can also use the in-betweener, not quite a TE but not fast enough to be a wideout (Novacek/Houlihan type guy). A 6-3, 235 minimum type guy. Needs to be big enough to get in the way. Good measure of TE is also what he does with the ball after the catch. Don't let the lack of blocking ability eliminate a good player.
Tight end: Greg Dulcich, UCLA
Another UCLA guy at this position? Hey, he's a fit. He certainly ain't an "offensive line type guy in a TE's jersey." In Dulcich, Belichick would "take what we can get from him on the blocking," and be just fine with it. He's that good as a "catcher." He's one of the best in this year's class at creating yards after the catch (7.0 per reception).
No. 2 tight end: Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
Ruckert has plenty of experience being "the blocker for situational running situations." That's all he did at Ohio State, practically. With so much receiving talent in Columbus, he wasn't given an opportunity to operate much as a receiver. He saw just 39 targets total last season, but he's thought to be a load to bring down with the ball in his hands... and as a blocker? He may be the best in this class at the position. With Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, the Patriots really don't have a blocking specialist on the roster, but Ruckert could be that guy as their No. 3.
Belichick's running back wish list
[Kevin] Mack is ideal, tuff inside, north/south guy. Has enough to bounce it outside. Needs to be able to catch the ball. Has to be able to step up and take on the blitz. Also need a third-down back like Metcalf and also a short-yardage/goal-line back (could be your starter or just a situational type guy, can also be a special teams guy). Needs to be smart enough to block the right guy on the blitz. Also need a smart guy who can block and can catch, not have to be a runner necessarily. ([Tom] Rathman type).
Running back: Tyler Allgeier, BYU
Allgeier may end up a Day 2 pick because of the all-around skill set he possesses. Because that skill set is what Belichick was after 30 years ago, maybe it'll land the BYU product in Foxboro. He's a decisive runner who has averaged almost 114 yards rushing per game over the last two years. He also blocks his tail off -- he may be the best pass-protector at the position in this year's class -- as a former walk-on. He'll have no problem being able to "step up and take on the blitz."
Third-down back: Rachaad White, Arizona State
If the Patriots are looking for a James White successor, why not go with another White? He caught 43 passes last season and rushed for over 1,000 yards. He's a mature-beyond-his-years type, evaluators say, and even if he's a little lean to be a between-the-tackles staple (6-feet, 214 pounds), he has the receiving chops and the willingness in pass protection to be what Belichick likes. Is he Metcalf? Probably not. But he fits the bill.
Belichick's receiver wish list
No. 1 has to be able to get off [the line of scrimmage] whether with size, speed, quicks or any combination of the three, then has to be able to catch. Can improve hands to some degree. Has to be able to run disciplined routes, not necessarily smart, just disciplined, have to get where they're going and [know] how they're getting there. Cannot do his own thing. Receiver needs good running ability after the catch, want to hit the receivers on the run and let them run with the ball either over, elude or by with speed. Speed only enters the equation in relation to players' ability to escape the line of scrimmage. Good leap and timing are more important than speed. Need good upper body strength and quickness. Frail guy without good quickness is dead. A mismatch type guy, quick, elusive, big physical type guy or any combo of those qualities can be your third receiver.
Receiver: John Metchie
Anyone surprised by this? The wideout Saban called "the epitome of what you look for in a wide receiver" feels like the epitome of what Belichick wanted back in the day. Metchie may have the most refined release package in the draft. He can get off the line of scrimmage. Check that box. His hands are strong, even when there's a lot going on around him in the middle of the field. He's disciplined. He's a professional. He's not going to "do his own thing." Metchie won't be the flashiest player after the catch, and he's not the class' greatest leaper. But based on what's listed at the top of this particular wish list, Metchie is the guy.
Belichick's quarterback wish list
No. 1 is to make good decisions. Then arm, size, physically tough, leadership, guys look up to and have confidence in. A real competitor. Accurate rather than a guy with a cannon. Emphasis on our game will be on decision, timing, accuracy. Guy needs to be confident. Intelligence is important, but not as much so as field awareness and judgement. Can't be sloppy fundamentally unsound guy with ball-handling, [techniques], etc. Footwork, drops, release, etc. Quarterback has to be able to throw the ball with accuracy.
Quarterback: Jack Coan, Notre Dame
Coan is a late-round pick but let's go with him here because the Patriots, in all likelihood, aren't going to be in on the top-five in this year's class. Hd seems to fit the description painted above by Belichick, and one AFC evaluator told NBC Sports Boston that Coan has all the intangible traits the Belichick would love. "Pro's pro," he said. "Works extremely hard. Knows what he's doing and why. He's going to grind. From a personality standpoint, he fits New England." Coan won't blow anyone away with his arm talent or his athleticism, but he has enough. And he has enough size. And he's poised enough and intelligent enough to keep his hands at 10 and 2 and "make good decisions" in an emergency situation. If that's what's most important to Belichick, which it is based on the wish list above, Coan is a match.