Patriots' new draft grading system among takeaways from NFL Combine

Patriots' new draft grading system among takeaways from NFL Combine originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots have a new man making roster decisions, and he's implementing a new draft grading system.

The last five or six drafts have produced a couple good players for the Patriots, but these classes overall have been mostly underwhelming. For the Patriots to get back to contender status in the AFC, getting more talent out of the draft has to be a huge priority.

Eliot Wolf has taken over as the director of player personnel, and his front office is going to be using a draft grading system that's different from what Bill Belichick used over the last 24 years.

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The new grading system was among Phil Perry's key takeaways from Wolf's presser at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

"(It was) interesting to hear because we have gone over this and over it and over it again this time of year, the last several years, the Patriots' grading system under Bill Belichick," Perry said on a new episode of the Next Pats Podcast.

"And we've done complete podcast episodes where for 20 minutes, I'll break down for you what a Patriots grade would look like and what the numbers mean and what the lowercase letters and the capital letters and the color coding and all that goes into one little card next to a player's name on their draft board. There's a lot of information compiled into those cards, and if you're not accustomed to seeing players graded that way, my guess is for scouts, it could be pretty complicated.

"They've changed that. They're into a new grading system. Now it's going to be closer to what Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith, now part of this Patriots front office as a senior personnel executive, were used to dealing with in Green Bay. So you're going to have the Packer Way here in New England from a front office standpoint."

What exactly might the new grading system prioritize?

"So a new grading system that you'll hear Eliot describe (later in the podcast) as something that will be a little bit simpler he hopes for scouts to understand. It won't necessarily be as role specific as things were here in New England. I think this is me putting words in his mouth now, but I think he's hoping it will help the Patriots better determine, simply, who the best players are, not who the best fits for certain roles are. And those are two different things.

"And then if you determine who the best players are and you're able to draft a few of those, well then you can mold your system and you can mold your roles to their skill sets. It sounds like, based on Eliot's description, that process was a little bit reversed under Bill Belichick for a long time here.

"So it'll be interesting to see just how well the scouts in New England adapt to that system and what kind of results it leads to when it comes to drafting, and free agency I'm sure is a similar deal for Eliot Wolf in this front office. It sounds like they are going to be more focused on getting the best players and then going from there when it comes to their scheme and their systems."

We're going to find out pretty quickly if this new grading system is effective or not because the Patriots have two picks in the top 34, including the No. 3 overall selection, in this year's draft.

Taking a quarterback in Round 1 probably makes the most sense for the Patriots from a fit perspective. But if getting the absolute best players is really the main goal, then you could make the case that selecting a wide receiver at No. 3, such as Marvin Harrison Jr., is the right play.

Also in this episode:

  • Biggest takeaways from Eliot Wolf’s comments

  • Wolf's press conference

  • Wolf’s interview with local reporters