Report: How Patriots' changed their approach for 2021 NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots have not enjoyed a ton of success in the NFL Draft in recent years, so it's no surprise that the team made some changes to how it prepared for the event in 2021.
According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, "this year was a whole lot different, with assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, scouting exec Eliot Wolf and national scout Matt Groh moving into more prominent roles in the aftermath of Nick Caserio’s departure for Houston."
Breer also noted he was told Patriots head coach Bill Belichick "was in the office more in the spring this year than in the past, held more formal draft meetings, something that really hasn’t happened under Belichick before, and reworked other past practices with the help of Ziegler, Wolf and Groh."
When team owner Robert Kraft criticized the team's recent drafting last month, it was fairly obvious that the scouting process was going not going to be the same.
The Patriots ended up making eight picks in last month's draft, including the selection of Alabama's Mac Jones at No. 15 overall -- the first quarterback Belichick has ever taken in the first round.
Drafting well is crucial to building a long-term winning roster in pro football, and it was a key to New England's unprecedented success throughout the 2000s and 2010s.
The Patriots wouldn't have needed to go on a massive and rare spending spree in free agency if the team had drafted better in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The early analysis of the 2021 class has been mostly positive, with most draft experts giving the Patriots' a grade of "B+" or higher.
One of the worst things you can do in any business, especially sports, is be stubborn and not change tactics and processes when the results aren't there. The Patriots' revamped approach to the draft is a positive change for the franchise and should give it a higher chance of hitting on more picks.