New England Patriots: Nick Caserio

Top takeaways from Nick Caserio

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are our top takeaways from Tuesday's pre-draft news conference (noon ET) with New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio:

Surprised to hear defensive line as depth spot. Asked for the defining characteristic of the overall draft, Caserio cited the record number of underclassmen (nearly 100) and pinpointed receiver, running back and defensive line as spots with good depth. The inclusion of defensive line was a bit of an outlier compared to what we've heard from most media analysts. Defensive end, in particular, has been cited by many as one of the lighter positions in the draft, but Caserio and the Patriots might see it differently. "I'd say there's a deep group of defensive linemen that are different types of players," he said.

Rookies mostly to fill out the roster. Caserio noted there are 65 players on the roster, leaving 25 additional spots to fill. "A large bulk of those will probably come next week, and a few weeks moving forward, as well," he said of the draft and undrafted free agency. The team has eight draft choices, so this sets the expectation for a large class of undrafted players, a crop that might be more talented than the norm because of the depth of the draft.

Team well-positioned to compete today. Unlike last year, when the Patriots had a noticeable absence at the receiver spot and almost telegraphed their intentions, the club looks better-positioned this year to go in a number of different directions. "If you look at our team, where we are today, if we had to go out there and play a game, we feel like we could field a competitive team," Caserio said, adding that it creates flexibility to pick the best players regardless of position.

Strategy will unfold on draft day. Caserio said the club's strategy will evolve as the draft does. "I don't think there is a set formula going into it, how we're going to approach it," he said. If there was a set formula, Caserio wouldn't share it in this forum, anyway.

Perspective on Boston Marathon, scouting staff and Patriots Hall of Fame. Caserio opened his news conference with remarks about the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, while saluting members of the organization who ran this year for charity. He also cited the work of director of college scouting Jon Robinson and his staff and then congratulated the three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame -- cornerbacks Raymond Clayborn and Ty Law and coach Bill Parcells -- while adding this about Law: "He probably thinks he can go out there and cover people, knowing him and his mentality and his competitive nature."

NFL combine: What we'll be watching

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
The on-field workouts at the 2014 NFL scouting combine begin Saturday, Feb. 22, but Wednesday marks the first day players will begin to arrive in Indianapolis as they embark upon a critical step in the pre-draft process.

We won’t be far behind them, as is scheduled to touch down in Indy Wednesday evening.

With the event looming, here’s the rundown of what we’re hoping to learn this year.

1. Who measures up? Ultimately, the combine is known most for the physical testing and drills that will take place from the 22nd to the 25th. We’ll keep a close eye on standout performers, players who struggle, fast risers, fast fallers, and anything else in between. The combine is just a part of the process in evaluating draft prospects, but it can provide extremely important information. One area that the New England Patriots were able to reinforce about top choice Jamie Collins last year was his explosiveness. He set the record for best broad jump in combine history at 11 feet 7 inches.

2. Targeting tight ends. Things can change before the draft (free agency plays a big part in this), but our current feeling is tight end is the Patriots' biggest positional need. This year’s crop of tight ends is considered deep and talented, with North Carolina’s Eric Ebron leading the way, followed by Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro. Meeting and learning more about the prospects at the position is a top priority for us.

3. Offseason update. Teams are not required to, but nearly every NFL team provides either its head coach or general manager for a question-and-answer period in the media room during the combine. The Patriots announced that they won't be talking, but in case that changes, it’ll be interesting to hear what either Bill Belichick or Nick Caserio say about the team’s current state.

4. League-wide Patriots perception. Even if Belichick and Caserio don't speak, we’ll pick the brain of the available personnel for their take on areas that the Patriots can improve upon and other franchise-related thoughts.

5. Game of tag? Speaking of franchise, the combine falls in the middle of the current franchise-tag window, and we’ll continue to keep a close eye on any possible movement on that front, both for the Patriots and around the league.

6. Quarterback crop. Quarterback obviously isn’t a top need for the Patriots, though Ryan Mallett does enter the final year of his contract this season. But the position typically headlines the event, with several prominent prospects this year. We’ll look forward to hearing from some of the top players such as Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, and also to see which players opt to throw at the combine.

7. Other notable prospects. During last year’s combine, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o drew what some believed was the largest audience for a player interview in combine history. There are prospects this year who are expected to draw robust crowds, with Manziel and Missouri defensive end Michael Sam topping the list. Sam recently announced he is gay.

8. Players with local ties. We'll aim to track down some of the local area players, as there is a host of combine invitees from New England schools, as well as four players who hail from Massachusetts.

9. Expecting the unexpected. You never know what is going to happen at the combine, which is one reason it’s a particularly unique event. On our way to Lucas Oil Stadium during the first day of the event last year, team crossed paths with former Patriots long-snapper Lonie Paxton, who was in town to promote a product line. We’re counting on more of the same unexpectedness this year.

Sharing thoughts on Nick Caserio interview

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
When the Indianapolis Colts requested permission to interview New England Patriots vice president of player personnel Nick Caserio for their general manager opening in January of 2012, Caserio didn't pursue the opportunity.

"I have a great job here in New England, I work with a great staff, privileged to work for the head coach that I do," Caserio said at the time. "Today is no different than it was any other day. ... I love New England. I enjoy being here. I enjoy the work that I do, the people that I work with. That's not going to change."

Two years later, has it changed?

That was the first question that came to mind after ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter tweeted today that Caserio was interviewing for the Miami Dolphins' general manager job.

In the end, I'd be surprised if Caserio accepted the job in Miami should it be offered to him.

The main reason is that his task would be to build a team to dethrone the division rival he's helped build in New England, which is led by the person who gave him his start in the NFL. Caserio seems like he's too loyal to Bill Belichick for that to happen, even if the financial reward was such that it was difficult to turn down.

So if that's the case, why even interview?

A few thoughts along those lines:

It gives him a chance to develop a connection with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, similar to what Josh McDaniels just went through by interviewing with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam for Cleveland's head coaching job. Caserio and McDaniels have long careers ahead of them, and the chance to develop those connections is valuable.

Another benefit for Caserio is that it would smash the perception he wouldn't leave should another opportunity arise in the future. It also could help improve his current standing in New England.

Those are some initial thoughts on news that came as a surprise today.

Schefter: Caserio interviewing with Miami

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was in Miami on Friday to interview for the Miami Dolphins' vacant general manager position, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.

Caserio, who has been in his current position with the Patriots since 2008, had previously turned down the opportunity to interview for the Colts’ GM job in 2012.

In the past few days, the Patriots have lost offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, tight ends coach George Godsey, and linebackers coach Pepper Johnson.

Nick Caserio bio snapshot

July, 31, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio is stepping in for coach Bill Belichick at this morning's 9 a.m. press conference.

A snapshot look at Caserio's bio:

1. Named director of player personnel on Feb. 21, 2008.

2. Enters his 10th season with the Patriots in 2010, and eighth in player personnel.

3. In 2007, he was the team's wide receivers coach. In 2002, he was a coaching assistant on offense. He has assisted the coaching staff in a variety of roles in other years as well, such as handling press-box duties during games.

4. Initially joined the team as a personnel assistant in 2001.

5. Was a standout player at John Carroll University, starting at quarterback in each of his four seasons, where he was a teammate of former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

6. A native of Westlake, Ohio.

Pees knows defense will have hands full

November, 24, 2009
In his weekly conference call Tuesday, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees acknowledged that his unit will have its hands full on Monday night with the high-octane Saints attack.

“It’s a very prolific offense,” Pees said. “They have so many weapons. The guys catch the ball, they’ve got good tight ends, they have a number of backs besides [Reggie] Bush. It’s just a very, very balanced offense.”

Pees lauded quarterback Drew Brees in leading the undefeated Saints and admitted that he presents challenges for a defensive coordinator.

“I don’t see a lot of teams pressuring him,” Pees said. “He’s a very, very smart and intelligent quarterback. He knows where to go with the ball. He does a really good job with the cadence and command of the offense. He does all those things.”

It helps, Pees said, that Brees is surrounded by other talented players and backed by a knowledgeable coaching staff.

“They do a good job with the whole scheme,” he said. “[Saints head coach Sean Payton] does a good job of calling the plays and doing formations and keeping everybody off balance.

“It’s the scheme, it’s Drew putting people in the right spot, getting rid of the ball on time, receivers getting open. It’s never one thing. It’s not just all the offensive line nor is it all just the skill players. They’ve coordinated the whole thing together and that’s why they’re playing so well on offense.”

But when asked how this New Orleans offense stacks up against that of the 10-0 Indianapolis Colts, Pees was reluctant to draw comparisons.

“I think they have their own identity,” Pees said of the Saints. “I think they’re both very, very excellent offenses. One is a multiple-formation, shift, move-around team and the other one barely moves and it’s just as effective. So I don’t think you can compare them. But I think they’re both just very, very good offenses and both able to move the ball. Both have very, very smart quarterbacks that know where to take the ball.”

Ultimately, Pees said that the Patriots must look forward if they want to stop the Saints, and can’t expect to repeat last week’s five-turnover performance against Mark Sanchez and the Jets.

“Last week was last week,” Pees said. “The Jets are just an entirely different type of team than the Saints and we’ll just have to see what direction we need to go in to try to be successful.”

Nick Caserio, New England’s director of player personnel, held his weekly conference call after Pees. Here are a few highlights:

On the work ethic of linebacker Tully Banta-Cain: “Going back to February or March, he had a real strong offseason and he continued to work on his pass rush and developed some of those skills and I think it’s really translated over into the season. So I think it’s really a credit to Tully and what he’s done. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he’s responded favorably to the coaching, whether that’s on the field or off the field.”

On the versatility of offensive tackle Mark LeVoir: “When we looked at Mark last preseason, he had played both right and left tackle for the Rams. I think the thing with Mark is having that versatility. There’s value to your club so that, in the event that the left tackle goes down you can plug him in there or [vice versa]. He gives us flexibility; we’ve even used him offensively at tight end. Whatever he’s been called upon to do, he’s gone in there and performed.”

On dealing with injuries late in the season: “From our perspective, what you try to do is just to manage the team as best as you possibly can under the constraints that you’re given. Look at the Saints. They’ve had a few injuries come up at the cornerback position, what with Leigh Torrence being placed on IR, they signed [Chris] McAlister last week, then went ahead and signed [Mike] McKenzie again. I think you just have to manage the club and manage the team as best you can and deal with the injuries as they happen.”