Bill Belichick the GM is making life tough for Bill Belichick the coach.
After 21 years and six Super Bowls in New England, Belichick has earned vast power over the team’s operations and draft decisions. But a rogue decision from the 2019 draft is already looking like the wrong choice.
Prior to the draft, Patriots scouts were reportedly high on wideouts Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown, now of the 49ers and Titans, respectively. But Belichick, according to Sports Illustrated, ignored those scouts in selecting N’Keal Harry with the 32nd pick. Harry has averaged just 19.7 receiving yards per game through two seasons, while Samuel has tallied 54.2 and Brown has topped 70 yards per contest.
Speaking to reporters last week, Patriots owner Robert Kraft acknowledged the team’s draft struggles in recent seasons.
“Really, the teams who draft well are the ones who will be consistently good,” Kraft said. “I don’t feel like we’ve done the greatest job the last few years and I really hope and believe I’ve seen a different approach this year. In the end, it all comes down to what happens on the field and how people execute and you really don’t know how good a draft is for at least two years.”
Belichick reportedly made the Harry selection based on his relationship with his college coach, Todd Graham, and his performance during a non-workout visit. The Patriots have reportedly been trying to trade Harry this offseason after their free-agency spending spree gave them plenty of offensive weapons.
But the recent drafting problems go beyond just the former Arizona State player. 2019 second-round CB Joejuan Williams played just 17% of snaps last season, while RB Damien Harris, a third-round selection in the same year, logged just 25% of the snaps at RB in a crowded backfield.
The Patriots also used a 2020 fifth-round pick on kicker Justin Rohrwasser, who was cut and later signed to the practice squad (before being cut again this March).
When asked about the Pats’ recent draft struggles last season, Belichick seemed unbothered.
“I’m not going to apologize for our record over the past 20 years. I’ve certainly seen a lot worse,” he said.
Other than Nick Caserio, the team’s former director of player personnel who has since left for the Texans’ GM job, Belichick has largely been responsible for the Patriots’ draft choices of late, for better or worse.
New England selects 15th in this year’s draft.
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