Robert Kraft’s Comments Has Some Thinking Bill Belichick is on the Hot Seat

Robert Kraft

Getty Robert Kraft

Is Bill Belichick the general manager on the hot seat?

Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots owner, spoke with the media via conference call last week, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, and he discussed several things, not least of which was Bill Belichick’s recent draft history. To say Belichick is on the hot seat is probably a bit much, but let’s just say his draft slip-ups haven’t gone unnoticed by the team’s owner.

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Kraft said this when asked about the team’s direction and recent history of draft picks.

In the end, if you want to have a good, consistent, winning football team, you can’t do it in free agency. You have to do it through the draft. I don’t feel we’ve done the greatest job the last few years and I really hope, and I believe, I’ve seen a different approach this year.

After a season that saw the team go 7-9 with no recent draftees making much of an impact, it’s no surprise to hear the team’s owner call the quality of draft picks into question.

Some are even suggesting Belichick might be on the hot seat.

Former NFL player and Fox Sports analyst LaVar Arrington suggests the seat is at least warm.

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Patriots’ Recent Draft Futility

We could go on and on about how the Patriots missed out on DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, and other receivers who have turn into stars because they drafted N’Keal Harry in the first round in 2019. However, that wouldn’t tell the entire story.

The issue with draft quality in New England goes back much further than 2019. The team hasn’t drafted a Pro-Bowler since 2013, which means a player who has reached that individual status in New England or elsewhere. The last player the team drafted who made the NFL’s version of an All-Star Game is linebacker Jamie Collins who signed a free-agent deal to play for the Detroit Lions last offseason.

The Cincinnati Bengals are the only other team in the NFL with an active streak of Pro-Bowl-less draftees as long as the Patriots.

John Breech of CBS Sports offered a little bit of a defense for the Patriots in an article on this topic.

The fact that the Patriots haven’t been able to find a Pro Bowler in the draft is slightly more understandable, but still a little embarrassing. Due to their immense success over the past six years — they’ve played in four Super Bowls and won three of them — the Patriots have regularly been picking at the bottom of the first round. Patriots coach Bill Belichick loves to wheel-and-deal in the draft, which usually ends with him making trades where he surrenders his higher picks for more picks in lower rounds. Also, Belichick is always emphasizing the fact that football is a team game and that everyone needs to do their job, which makes it difficult for individual players to get showcased, especially young players.

The Patriots’ late draft spots are a factor, and so too is Belichick’s tendency to trade back in the draft. Belichick traded out of the first round in 2020 when New England had the 23rd selection.

He dealt the pick to the Los Angeles Chargers, who selected stud rookie inside linebacker (an area of weakness for the Patriots last year) Kenneth Murray. The Patriots grabbed the 37th and 71st pick in the deal. They took Kyle Dugger with the 37th pick but moved the 71st and the 98th selection to the Baltimore Ravens while moving up to No. 60 to take linebacker Josh Uche. 

Wheeling and dealing are fine, but of late, Belichick hasn’t found the diamonds in the rough that used to be his specialty.

Who’s the Next Patriots-Drafted Pro-Bowler?

If you look at the current roster, it’s tough to pinpoint anyone on the roster in 2020 who has lights-out, Pro-Bowl potential. That said, tops on the list of current Patriots who were drafted by the team would have to be Michael Onwenu. 

The Patriots selected him in the sixth round, and quite honestly, you could argue he almost deserved the nod in 2020. He was playing out of position at tackle as a rookie but still managed to be the ninth-highest-rated offensive tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Dugger, Uche, Chase Winovich, and Onwenu’s O-line partner Shaq Mason are also possibilities. In any case, Kraft and Belichick are likely hoping this whole draft thing takes a turn for the positive, starting with this year.

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