The day after the Patriots’ second preseason game of 2018, Bill Belichick answered a few questions in a conference call with reporters.
While typically taciturn in his response on a number of issues, Belichick elaborated about player evaluation. Specifically, how he tries to discern value in a player who might not be in the right system.
The Patriots, whose system hasn’t always proven readily understandable to new players, have nonetheless profited from the “buy low, sell high” concept over the years. All stages of the Belichick era has witnessed this, from low price free agents such as Mike Vrabel to undervalued draft picks such as Marcus Cannon (and, to an extent, Rob Gronkowski).
Belichick was asked about how he scouts players in other systems, whether they’re already in the NFL or in college before joining the league. In particular, if he thinks they might fit better in his system.
“It happens all the time. It happens every year,” said Belichick. “For whatever reason, players are in different systems and you look at it and you feel like in your system it might be a little better fit than where he was somewhere else.
“That’s not a criticism of anywhere else, or anything else. I’m sure other teams look at some of our players and think the same way. It’s the same thing in the draft. So, yeah, I think it’s very common to see another player in another system and you can picture him in your system and you can maybe see a little more 0f a productive player than you see somewhere else. I think that’s fairly common with every team I’ve ever been on.”
Belichick acknowledged that sometimes he’s right, but mistakes happen in evaluation.
“That area is a very inexact science,” he explained. “Until you actually get them in the system, it’s a little bit of a projection. There are hits and there are misses. I think that’s true with every team. I haven’t seen a team yet that’s hit on all of them.”