- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Following the traditional photo with the Patriots top draft choice and owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft, there was a media Q&A with Robert Kraft.
Here is the Q&A:
“It’s interesting, for us, this was a nondescript draft class. There were no big names, no big schools, no career records. But we hope it parallels a couple past successful drafts we had where we had two tight ends in 2010 of Gronk and Hernandez. Then in ’11, we had two halfbacks with Ridley and Vereen. Now we have two wide receivers with Dobson and Boyce. As I mentioned, this our 20th draft class. It’s a pretty exciting time for us because doing this today really means the start of the new season. All the final pieces are in place here at the stadium. Just some interesting stats to know -- we had no picks in the first round, but in the first 102 picks in the draft, we had five, which is more than any other team. We felt this was a deep draft, in the second and third rounds, so we’re excited about that.”
What are your first impressions of Jamie Collins?
“First of all, I know my mom of blessed memory lost her dad when she was 9. And here is a young man who lost both his parents by the time he was 6. I know how mentally tough my mother was. I think seeing him and talking to him -- I guess he also lost a brother, and he went on a team this year that was 0-12 -- I think all of those things have weighed on him and he’s just a very wonderful and charming young man to talk to. I think he has had a certain resiliency that a lot of young people don’t have and see. I think he’s really appreciative of the opportunity he has to be here.”
How much do you enjoy this process, meeting these draft picks for the first time?
“It keeps me vibrant. Seeing the new class come in, seeing the anxiety but also the chippiness and confidence … I happened to be down in New York earlier in the week with a number of owners, and of course, everyone thinks they had a great draft and improved their team. I’ve been listening to it, and of course in fact, none of us know for a few years. But somehow, when you think about our team, I think we have more returning starters -- 22 of our 24 starters are returning [including kicker and punter]; it’s going to be very tough for young people to make this team. I think there will be good spirit, good competition. It’s such a fun time.”
You were waving a towel at the Bruins game last night and were on the video screen …
“That was funny. I was actually chatting with Jonathan and my grandson and I don’t know if we were eating anything or what, and I saw the camera, so that was cool. I’m happy to say that when I started doing that towel, everyone started doing it, and then they scored 20 seconds later. So I’m hoping to be back at the next game Saturday night. It will be great to see them … [and] it will be good to see the Celtics win tomorrow night. It’s a great sports time, and the Red Sox are doing great, so hopefully we can do the same when we get our chance.”
Will you be setting up a scouting office at Rutgers?
“I spoke to Bill about that, and the good news is he’s done a lot of homework and he really thinks we have a family of players that can make a great contribution to us.”
Fans might be bummed out at times when the team trades down. You’ve mentioned how you were a fan before owning the team, so do you ever feel the same way when there is a trade down?
“As a fan, I could feel that way. As someone who hates losing in the fall, which is really what matters … like I said, we picked five players in the first 102, which is more than any other team picked. The real strength of the draft … if we had drafted in the top 20-25, we would have taken the same players that we took later. For us, from a cap point of view of having financial flexibility, and the talent, I think this draft wound up very well for us. I understand fans who don’t have the full knowledge of what goes and the value that’s there, how they could be disappointed. But I think we got the equivalent of first-round draft choices in the second and third round, the way I look at it. Time will tell.”
Do you have a comment, as a professional sports owner, on what Jason Collins did meant to the sports world? And can you see a day like that coming in the NFL?
“My hearty congratulations for [Jason]. I think 10 years from now, people won’t even talk about it. We’re about winning and if someone can come in here and help us win, I don’t care what ethic background, what racial background or what gender preference they have. If they can help us win and they’re about team, then we’re happy to have them here. I think we’re living in a world where there are no boundaries any more. There are no borders. We’re connected by technology and I don’t like what’s going on in Washington with this partisanship on both sides. I think we overcome it by being understanding and welcoming all points of view, and good human beings. So good luck to him.”