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Bill Belichick: We’ve ‘definitely had a lot’ of trade discussions

04.27.11 at 6:19 pm ET
By

Bill Belichick (AP)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday that they’ve “definitely had a lot of discussions” about potential trades, but people shouldn’t look for anything until the draft gets underway.

“Those things don’t really crystallize until draft day, or a lot of times, when you’re on the clock,” Belichick told the NFL Network. “It’s been pretty unusual to see these type of trades being done prior to the draft. I think the last one was when I traded with Jimmy Johnson in Dallas in 1992 or 1993, we made a deal three days before the draft — that was pretty much unheard of.”

Regardless, with six picks in the first three rounds — including Nos. 17, 28 and 33 overall — the Patriots are poised to be one of the major power players in this year’s draft. Belichick said New England is able to approach this draft with more “flexibility” than they’ve had in year’s past.

“We’re fortunate because it gives us a lot of flexibility — I think that we could move up, move down,” he said. “A couple of years ago we were at seven and 56, or whatever it was. There’s not too much you can do when you’re in a spot like that. But hopefully, we’re well-prepared on the draft board, and we’ll try to find a spot where we can get good value for our picks.”

The plethora of early picks forces you to know the draft better than if you were toward the end of the first round.

“I think it really forces you to know the board. You need to know what’s above you, what’s below you and what’s in between on all those picks, because there’s a possibility that teams could ask you to move, or you may want to move to [get] a particular player, so you’ve really got to do that. If you’re not going to move — let’s say you’re picking at 20 — you can pretty much eliminate the first 10 players because there’s no way you could get to some of them. I think it just forces you to prepare well for the draft, all the way through, every round and every pick.”

Belichick also discussed a number of other topics:

In terms of the first round, what’s the difference between drafting the best player on the board and drafting for need or value. What’s the difference for you?
“I think ultimately, it’s value. If you get a good player, then you’ve got a solid player at that position, and that’s great. If you take a need and then the player doesn’t pan out, then you’re back at the same point the following year doing the same thing all over again. If we can get good value for our picks, we’ll improve our football team, and ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. If it happens to be at a position we like, great, but as long as it’s a good football player that will be the type of person and player in our program that we want, then I think we’ll be happy with that pick.”

On pressing needs they need to fill in this draft….
“Well, I think really we can improve at every position, and we’ve done that in the offseason. We’ve done that from a coaching standpoint, trying to do a better job coaching and being more efficient on our schemes and play selection and things like that. But across the board, whether it be offense, defense or the kicking game, you’re always looking to improve, and I think there are young players in this draft that can help our football team at every position. And if it isn’t them, then their competition will make some of the players we have better. Either way, I think it helps the team, and we’ll just see how all that plays out.”

On targeting good players in the second round…
“You know, I think we really try to look at every pick the same — we try and get the best value for the pick. Some of them have worked out, some of them haven’t. I wouldn’t say there’s any set philosophy in the second round or the fourth round or any round, really. It’s to try to take the player we feel like has the most to offer our program and feel like can develop in our program. And as I’ve said, we’ve had some players that have worked out and some that haven’t worked as well, but at the time we took them, we felt like that was the best choice.

What’s the most unique or intriguing thing about this group of prospects?
“I think each draft is its own special draft. Obviously, the players, it’s a one time opportunity, and the strengths and weaknesses of the draft and the depth at the various positions makes each draft very unique, as do the rankings or the order that the teams are picking in, so player-wise this year, there’s certainly a lot of depth at certain positions. Obviously the defensive line, the offensive line, receivers … and then, as it goes through … as you look at the entire group, there’s a lot of depth at running back, defensive back positions. Maybe not right at the top, but certainly it looks like there’s a lot of players there that will be big contributors at some point. It’ll be interesting to see how all that sorts out. Certainly, the defensive line, the front seven, is a very interesting situation this year, and I’m sure a lot of those players will get picked high, and probably the teams that get the best players out of that group will look back and feel the best about this draft.”

How does the youth on your roster affect the way that you approach this draft?
“I don’t think it affects us too much. I think we still go back to our core philosophy of trying to find the best players we can for our football team and let them compete with the guys who are here and we’ll just see how all that plays out. Whether that’s new players coming on to the team or players on the team raising their level of play, if it makes our team better, that’s what it’s all about.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick,
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