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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
How do Patriots approach Combine?

By Mike Rodak

BOSTON TO INDIANAPOLIS -- The 2011 NFL Combine begins tomorrow at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where scouts from across the league will be present to test and evaluate the more than 300 draft-eligible players invited to the event.

But not all teams treat the information they gather at the Combine in the same way.

An April 2007 interview on 790 The Score (Providence) with then-Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli revealed the unique approach the Patriots take with their scouting process. At the time, the Patriots were one of a handful of teams not to subscribe to either the BLESTO or National scouting service.

“For us, we don’t feel [the value is there]. The name “Combine” comes from a group of teams that have gotten together, combined their financial resources and manpower, and they are sharing information among the clubs that belong to the particular Combine – National or BLESTO.”

“You have a scout that is employed by, say, the Miami Dolphins, who is scouting and gathering information in his area or his region, and all of that information is shared. We’re not necessarily in the business of information sharing. If there’s someone who is being trained by the Miami Dolphins, or is being trained by a Combine, a scout that is working for six, seven, eight, or nine different teams, that person has no idea about what our culture is, what our needs are, what our desires are.”

“We prefer to train our own people to scout and look for a specific type of player physically, mentally, emotionally that fits our needs. In our mind, just looking at it from a business standpoint, why would we have someone who doesn’t know our system, and know it intimately, scout and gather information when they don’t know what they’re looking for? How can you find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for?”

While league-wide, news this week will revolve around players’ stock rising or falling based on such things as their 40-yard dash time at the Combine, the Patriots will take a more even-keeled approach.

“We’re a team that when we evaluate players, and stack them and rate them, we primarily do that based on their performance as football players. What happens from the last bowl game in January – there aren’t any games played from January to April, yet somehow, some way you see fast risers and fast fallers based on how guys work out in shorts and t-shirts, and that’s always been something that’s confused me a little bit. Very rarely on our team’s board will you see any fast risers or fast falls on players.”

“What happens sometimes for a multitude of reasons, the “draft experts” – and I always find that interesting, because the people who are the “draft experts” never have any responsibility of actually turning a name on draft day in down at the NFL Draft – [say] for different reasons, players rise or fall at the Combine, because people see a player and they don’t think he’s as fast as he is, or as strong as he is. It’s testing, and with some teams, you will see a fluctuation as to where they believe a player is, before or after their individual workout, whether it be at the Combine or at the school.”

“For the most part, players that in the past that have risen on our board, during the months of January, February, and early March, is when there is a great discrepancy between the evaluation process of the area scouts, regional scouts, and where they have a player rated, and where we [the decision makers in the draft] have a player rated. Very rarely is there a fast riser. What happens in terms of players being fast fallers will be predominantly situations where players get themselves into, where there is an arrest, or where there is additional information that is negative and has either been hidden in the past or somehow comes out, or where there is a serious transgression, which ends up being a situation where we may not want to end up dealing with a player.”