If you want best project what the New England Patriots will do on draft day, you have to go inside the mind of the man making the personnel decisions for the six-time Super Bowl champions. That would be head coach Bill Belichick.
While he has earned a pedigree for keeping his cards very close to his chest when making any type of decision, there was a little nugget of info given to us on Tuesday that allows us to grasp Belichick's train of thought when evaluating offensive players.
NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah shared some scouting notes from Bill Belichick in which the then Browns head coach dove into what he values in each offensive position.
While these are notes from Belichick nearly 30 years ago, as Jeremiah mentions, most of what Belichick valued in his offensive players back then still ring true today.
When looking at his notes on what he wants in an offense as an entire unit, it replicates what we have seen from the Patriots offense in recent years. Having offensive lineman like Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason gives that unit a physical presence in the middle of the line that allows the run game - with a lead blocker like James Develin - to be powerful up the middle. Add in Julian Edelman - who can block very well and attacks the middle of the field - and James White - who can get off the line of scrimmage and attack a defense in the passing game as a running back - and those are just a few examples of how Belichick's values from his time in Cleveland are still similar to what he values today from his offensive players.
Using Belichick's notes on the tight end position can help us project how he may try to solve the TE issue he currently has on the roster. Underlined and bolded on Belichick's scouting notes under tight end is the statement "Don't let the lack of blocking ability eliminate a good player," which means he may try to draft a tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft that isn't necessarily well-rounded, but can catch and run after the catch very well. The belief is that a tight end's ability to block at the next level can be developed with proper coaching. However, the ability to catch and run after the catch are more natural abilities that can only be taught to an extent. That's why Belichick also noted that he's okay with having a block-first TE lower on the depth chart to use as a situational player in the event that the team's top TE isn't a strong blocker, because finding a pass-catcher at that position is harder to find than a blocker.
If Belichick wants a TE that can impact New England's offense ASAP, then his best bet is drafting Notre Dame's Cole Kmet. He is projected to be the first tight end off the board once the draft begins, but isn't projected to go until early on Day 2. Though Kmet is the most complete tight end amongst this year's lackluster class, he is much more a pass-catcher than a blocker at this point. Because of that, Kmet seems like the ideal player to be drafted by Belichick as the replacement for Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots head coach could develop him into a well-rounded player and finally can fix the glaring weakness of New England's offense last season. But first, New England will have to acquire a 2nd round pick, which is something I toyed with in my latest mock draft.