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Bill Belichick would ‘absolutely’ like to see NFL draft moved back to April

06.17.14 at 9:53 am ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick is someone who likes to prepare.

This year that preparation was disrupted somewhat by the moving of the NFL draft from late April to May 8-10 in New York City. Reportedly, the move was made, at least in part, due to the availability of Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, the stage when the NFL’s newest stars are introduced.

That move all but eliminated rookie minicamp this year for NFL teams, including the Patriots. So coaches like Belichick were forced to scramble and throw the rookies on the field with veterans in mid-May to late May and early June in optional OTA practices to catch up.

There has been some discussion that the league will move the draft back to late April in 2015. Would Belichick like to see that happen?

“Of course. The sooner you have your players the easier it is to start not only getting them integrated into your team but also building your team,” Belichick said Tuesday morning before the opening of mandatory minicamp. “There are certain things you get in the draft and then you have to fill in other areas of the team with veteran players or college free agents. With that process going on, you can see every day when you pick up the transactions there are probably five to 15 transactions on a daily basis. Of course, if you have the draft [earlier], you’d be able to move that whole process up but whatever it is, it is. That’s not my decision. But I would vote for an earlier draft, absolutely.”

Belichick downplayed the effect of the compressed schedule on his rookies and first-year free agents.

“I don’t think it’s really affected the time frame on what we’ve had with them,” Belichick added. “What it’s affected is them knowing they’re with their team on May 8th compared to [late] April. That couple of weeks there, that’s time that was lost from when players could start preparing for their new team and being told what they need to do and what position they were going to play, all those kind of things. Those two weeks got pushed back. Once the draft actually happened, the players came in on May 12th and they’ve been here just like they would’ve been in the past. They would’ve had rookie minicamp and a little bit of a head start. But from May 12th until now is the same as it was last year.”

Here is more from Bill Belichick on Tuesday morning:

On rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo:

“Hopefully, it’s been valuable for everybody. That’s why we’re out there, to try to help each player improve and get them ready to go to training camp and play in the season. I hope it’s been valuable for all of them. Like all these guys, they’re learning what to do, they’ve got a long way to go. They’re making progress. He’s improved but have a long way to go.”

On the opening of minicamp as a continuation of OTAs:

“This is the official minicamp. It really is just a continuation of what we’ve been for the last 10 practices over the past three weeks. Just trying to moving ahead here, installing some of our plays, trying to get everybody on the same page, the new players and some of the players that are back. Obviously, we’ve made some adjustments and changes in what we’re doing from last year. We’ll try to keep building on that and try to put ourselves in as good a position as we can to be ready to go in training camp. I think we certainly made a lot of progress but at the same time we have a long way to go. Just take it day by day and try to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep making progress.”

“I think we’ve made progress and we have a long way to go.”

“We’ve got a lot in but it’s not everything, definitely not. Without pads on, there’s a lot of things we’re going to need to do when we get the pads [on], particularly in the running game. I’d say that installation has been held back a little bit just because we can’t do the work we need to do on it. We’ve tried to introduce the players to a lot of things so at least they will have heard them at least once before and been explained once before, sometimes a second time around. Makes a little more sense if you’ve heard it once.”

On Rob Gronkowski‘€™s offseason so far:

“All the players that aren’€™t participating fully in the OTAs are in their rehab and they’€™re all at various stages. Rehab is a process that each day is a different day. When you can move ahead, you can move ahead. When you can’€™t, then you back up until you can move ahead and then you move ahead. That’€™s what rehab is. We’ve all been through it. Players that are involved in it, they’€™re working as hard as they can. We’€™ll see how it all goes. It’€™s not a straight line. Some days are better than others for everybody.”

How good was it to see Sebastian Vollmer and Vince Wilfork back on the field during OTAs?

“Again, everybody is in different stages. Each guy is different, each injury is different. So, wherever they are, they are. We hope that they keep making positive progress and we look forward to seeing as many players as possible back out on the field as soon as possible, whenever that is.”

Do you expect to have Rob Gronkowski on the field today?

“We just keep going day to day. Every day we’€™ll just keep moving along day to day with everybody.”

What do you see out of Asa Watson and Justin Jones? Jones has the size of somebody like Rob Gronkowski. Would you say he fills that position in the tight ends group?

“I don’€™t know. We’€™ll see. Give him a chance to participate out there and see how he comes along. Training camp and everybody will get an opportunity to play. We’€™ll see who does what. Whatever the players do, they’€™ll earn, whatever they achieve they’€™ll have to earn to achieve. I don’€™t know how that’€™s going to come out. Guys that are out there will get a chance and we’€™ll evaluate their performance and we’€™ll see how it goes. I don’€™t know.”

What have you learned about Darrelle Revis that you didn’t know from just watching him?

“Anytime you have personal contact with a player, you get to know the player. Revis is a good player. I’€™m glad we have him. We’€™ll keep working with him. There’€™s still a lot for him to learn; a new system and all that. He’€™s a very experienced and accomplished player. We’€™ll just try to fit him into the things that we’€™re doing, both individually and collectively with his other teammates in the secondary, especially as we get into multiple defensive back groups, where five, six, however many of them are on the field at the same time, there’€™s a lot of communication and adjustments, things like that, involved, too. But he’€™s worked hard and he’€™s done fine.”

Would you say Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins have made a lot of progress this offseason?

“I think all the guys in that class have definitely made a jump from last year to this year. Josh wasn’€™t even on the field, so that goes without saying. KT, they’€™re all further along. Those guys are, but so are all the rest of the rookies that we had last year, whether we drafted them or guys like Chris Jones that came in during the season. They’€™re all much further ahead than where they were last year.”

If a guy isn’€™t out there, can he still make that jump going from the first year to the second year?

“Yeah. Look, there are things that everybody, players can work on every day. There are some things they can’€™t do but that doesn’t keep them from doing the things that they can do, so we try to emphasize that. If a player is limited in some area, then that doesn’t limit him in all areas. He can still make gains in those other areas, whatever they happen to be. So yeah, absolutely.”

How valuable has this time been for Jimmy Garoppolo and how has he looked to you?

“Hopefully it’€™s been valuable for everybody. That’€™s why we’€™re out there: to try to help each player improve and get them ready go to training camp and to play in the season. I hope it’€™s been valuable for all of them.”

How has he looked to you?

“Again, like all these guys, they’€™re learning what to do. They’ve got a long way to go, they’€™re making progress. He’€™s improved, but he has a long way to go.”

Have any of the rookies surprised you with what they’ve done on the field?

“Again, with all due respect, we haven’€™t really done anything on the field. We’ve taught a lot. I think hopefully we’ve learned a lot. But we haven’€™t had the competition that we’€™re going to have in training camp. It’€™s just not the same. On top of that, we have a lot of guys who, even though they may know what to do, they haven’€™t had much experience doing it. Hopefully by the time we get to training camp, we’€™ll be in a little bit different position where the players will have a little bit better understanding [of] what to do, they will have done it at least in a controlled setting and then we’€™ll see based on the competition how they’€™re actually able to do it against somebody else who is competing at that same level. That’€™s when we’€™ll really see that. We’€™re not really going to see that now. Nor are we looking for that now. We don’€™t want to go out there and have a bunch of piles and have guys rolled up. We’€™re trying to teach them and get them to understand what to do to have some confidence so they can go out there and when we do get to training camp, they’€™re able to go out there and do it at their best level and compete against another guy who is trying to compete against them. That’€™s really all this is about. Now’€™s not the time to cut the team. It’€™s too early.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo, minicamp, New England Patriots
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