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Thursday, April 28, 2011
Bill Belichick: Value in RBs early

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick was a guest on NFL Network’s pre-draft show, being interviewed by Mike Mayock.

The Q&A:

I’ve heard more trade stuff than I’ve ever heard. I wanted to get your take. Is it real? If so, why?
“I don’t know. Really, Mike, we’re just kind of focused on our preparations for the draft. We’ll see what happens as we get closer to our picks. We’re prepared to talk and we’ll be prepared to pick if that’s what it comes to. I kind of look at it like a final exam. You do your homework, you go in there, and then when the questions come, you try to give the best answer you can to help your football team. That’s what we’ll do. If we pick, we pick. If we trade, we trade. But we’ll do what’s best for the football team.”

How about the whole philosophy of the running back position in today’s NFL? I kind of feel like it’s been devalued. We see some depth to the running back class this year. Is there worth in a first- or second-round running back any more? Or is everyone just trading down?
“Well, I think when you look at the production throughout the league; you’ll see there is a lot of production from first- and second-round running backs, currently in the league and in previous years. That position has produced a lot in the National Football League, as obviously has the quarterback position. So I wouldn’t say it’s devalued at all. I’m sure that a good running back can help any football team, both offensively and defensively. If the club feels the player is worthy of that role and that position on the team, I don’t think there is anything wrong with putting a high pick into it.”

At one point, do you and Bill Polian and some of the guys around the league who have had a great quarterback for a lot of years have to find a backup in the draft that someday can be the starter when Tom Brady retires?
“Well, you know, we went through that process a few years ago with Matt Cassel. Of course, we now see he’s [starting] for the Kansas City Chiefs. We have a lot of confidence in our quarterbacks on the roster here, with Brian Hoyer and Jonathan Crompton. Neither one of them has really got a lot of chance to play the last couple of years, but we feel like they’re both developing well. So maybe it’s them, but there’s always the possibility of competition at that position. Whoever we go to training camp with, we’ll do our best to coach them and give them an opportunity to play and let them develop into that role, and if the opportunity presents itself like it did for Tom in 2001, or like it did in Matt in 2008, hopefully those players will be prepared to lead our team to victories like those two players did.”