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Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio talks draft

04.14.11 at 2:43 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio spoke for roughly 45 minutes on Thursday at The Hall at Patriot Place about the pre-draft process, and how the New England braintrust approaches the draft. Here are some of the highlights:

‘€¢On draft day, Caserio described things in the draft room as being ‘€œpretty tame’€ for most of the time. ‘€œWhen you’€™re not picking, things are pretty quiet,’€ he said. As for trades, most of them occur on draft night, with most discussions usually picking up between five and eight picks out: ‘€œThere are [trade] possibilities examined the week before, but things don’€™t really manifest themselves until the draft,’€ he said.

‘€¢Where are things right now? Caserio said that most of the Pro Days have been completed to this point, with most of the players who will be drafted having worked out. He added that the time frame for the 30 allotted visits expires next Wednesday, April 20. However, you can work a player out until the day before the draft ‘€” he recalled an instance a few years ago where he flew out to work out a player a day or two before the draft.

‘€¢The private workouts are important for getting a handle on a prospect, but they can be invaluable for trying to figure out if a small school prospect, an injured player or a non-combine invitee might fit into your system. Caserio used wide receiver Julian Edelman and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer as examples of two guys the Patriots were able to get a much clearer picture of as a result of private workouts, as both were not invited to the combine. When it comes to private workouts, ‘€œWe’€™re just trying to make sure we have the most accurate picture of the player possible.’€ (Caserio added that when they were working out Edelman prior to the 2010 draft, they had multiple private workouts with him, including as a wide receiver, running back and return man.)

‘€œIn the end, the goal is to have it right. Is it perfect? No. There are players where it hasn’€™t worked out,’€ Caserio said. ‘€œ[But] it’€™s a projection element. You are talking about the unknown.’€

‘€¢Caserio showed a fictional draft card, and explained what the intricate grading system that appears on the card, a series of numbers and letters that includes height, weight and Wonderlic score. In addition, the card reveals whether or not a prospect is considered ‘€œheight deficient’€ or ‘€œweight deficient.’€ (Caserio was quick to let people know that a prospect being classified as ‘€œheight deficient’€ isn’€™t necessarily a bad thing ‘€” he mentioned players like Kevin Faulk, Barry Sanders and Maurice Jones-Drew as players who were classified as such but have gone on to successful careers.)

‘€¢As for how things might be different because of the lockout this year, Caserio said that their pre-draft process this year is no different than it’€™s been in year’€™s past. ‘€œOur approach this year is no different than in year’€™s past ‘€” we’€™re looking for the player who can improve our football team the most and that’€™s what we’€™re focused on doing,’€ he said. ‘€œWe’€™re evaluating a player for his skill set based on the information that we’€™ve gathered, and we’€™ll just move forward from there. So our approach hasn’€™t changed much at all.’€

‘€¢When asked about the preconceived ideas some people have when it comes to the Patriots and the outside linebacker spot ‘€” and if they have adjusted them somewhat ‘€” Caserio replied: ‘€œI think you’€™re always looking at different things. In terms of the players and the types of players and the standards … the most important thing is finding good football players that can help our football team, whatever shape and form they come in. Danny Woodhead is the perfect example. I’€™d say he falls short in some of the ‘€˜standards,’€™ but … that’€™s something we’€™re always evaluating across the positions, the different standards and where we are relative to the rest of the league. That position, there’€™s more teams that are looking for similar-type players, and in college, maybe the pool of players isn’€™t that big to begin with, so everybody’€™s looking at the same players and ultimately, you just have to make the decision on who you feel like is best for your team.’€

Read More: Barry Sanders, Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk, Maurice Jones-Drew
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