Come D day, who will be in the draft war room at Gillette Stadium? Why them and why is it limited to only them? What difference does it make?
First, lets identify the participants:
- Robert Kraft - Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of The Kraft Group which in turn owns the New England Patriots.
- Jonathan Kraft – President of The Kraft Group and the New England Patriots
- Bill Belichick – Head Coach and General Manager
- Nick Caserio – Director of Player Personnel
- Jon Robinson – Director of College Scouting
- Josh McDaniels – Offensive Coordinator
- Michael Lombardi? Strong rumors have the recently fired General Manager of the Cleveland Browns headed for an undefined role on Belichick's staff.
Why is the group kept small?
The short answer is Bill wants it that way. This group works under the intense pressure that goes with an NFL draft. There are critical points where opportunities arise that require good decisions within minutes. Belichick wants the group small, as opposed to the way other teams reportedly operate. Presumably, the reason is to maintain focus, order and discipline within the room. The fact that the Patriots tend to be the most active traders during the draft supports the need to keep a limited group size. Others in the organization standby their telephones to answer questions or add clarification upon request from the War Room. Belichick has the ultimately decision on all player personnel moves, draft or trades.
Why is the group comprised of these key individuals?
The reason for Belichick, Caserio and Robinson, is obvious as the draft and any trades are integral with their job responsibilities. Head Coach, Director of Player Personnel, and Director of College Scouting, respectively have the experience and knowledge to perform the draft.
Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator, is a long term Belichick disciple who has the experience and has earned his place at the table, particularly in regard to offensive players. I do not believe it is well known that Caserio and McDaniels were college teammates where McDaniels was a wide receiver for quarterback Nick Caserio at John Carroll University from 1995 to 1998.
McDaniels was a quarterback in high school but was beaten out by Caserio for the position at John Carroll. As an aside, perhaps this is why McDaniels appears to favor Julian Edleman, a sixth round draft pick quarterback from a small college program that now plays wide receiver for the Patriots.
Bob and Jonathan Kraft are there because they own and run the family owned businesses (The Kraft Group) that include the Patriots. Bob Kraft has built an original small family business into a large and successful holding company, and they are very involved in the NFL and operation of the Patriots. To emphasize this point, I include two quotes from The Kraft Group company website:
“Under Kraft family ownership since 1994 the New England Patriots have emerged as the model of success for all of [the] professional sports. In a league structured for parity, the Patriots have been to the Super Bowl [six] times since '94, having won it in 2001, 2003 and 2004. They've been to the AFC Championship game [eight] times, having won [six] and a playoff team [fifteen] times (as of spring ).”
Although the Krafts have given the authority to Belichick to make the final decision on all player matters, they have a strong business philosophy the company adheres to as I mention in a previous post https://fantasyknuckleheads.com/defense-2013-patriots.
Another quote from the company website illustrates this point:
“Disciplined flexibility. That's the approach The Kraft Group takes when considering its investments. Disciplined in that the tenets of sound business always set the bar in evaluating an opportunity. Flexible in recognizing that opportunity can come from any direction and in any shape.”
Every football decision must meet the sound business test. These two quotes are important because the first documents the success of the Patriots organization under the Kraft family leadership (15 playoff appearances in 20 years), and the second confirms the team will be held to the same business standards as their other multiple successful businesses.
What difference does it make
The draft is a critical component of maintaining the team successfully. The members in the war room are all experienced with a successful record at what they are responsible for, as are the people that report to them. The business is successful at training and replacing members who move on to other opportunities as the cases of Scott Pioli leaving to be General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs and Thomas Dimitroff to be GM at Atlanta demonstrate.
My last point concerns the recent rumor that Mike Lombardi will join the Patriots as a consultant similar to the position he had in 2010 through 2012 successful drafts advising Belichick on college and NFL players. This move would be of significant benefit to the Patriots as it adds an additional experienced analyst to the team in time to impact this year's draft. This case, assuming the rumor comes to fruition, is a nice fit with the disciplined flexibility philosophy mentioned above.