Some might say that writing checks totaling at least $160 million guaranteed to NFL free agents gives Patriots owner Bob Kraft the right to criticize the poor draft record that required the team to go on a record-setting spending spree.
ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday, a former NFL offensive lineman, disagrees. Appearing on ESPN’s “Get Up!”, Saturday said that Kraft’s draft criticisms are “100 percent a shot” at coach/general manager Bill Belichick.
“I think Bill needs to walk into Mr. Kraft’s office and lay out their record over the past 10 years and the Super Bowls in ’14, ’16, ’18,” Saturday said, via NESN.com.
“Think about how good this team has been and you’re going to take a shot at how well they’ve drafted. I mean, I think this is a ridiculous comment. If you look at their draft, has it been impressive? How do you describe that? I think the wins are what we’re all going for.”
The Patriots are coming off their first losing season since 2000. A large part of the slide is attributable to losing Tom Brady to the Buccaneers in free agency. But poor drafting caught up to the Patriots even before Brady’s departure and he was fed up with receivers who were struggling to gain separation.
“I don’t feel like we’ve done the greatest job the last few years,” Kraft told reporters this week, “and I really hope and believe I’ve seen a different [draft] approach this year.”
Though they go hand-in-hand, it seems win-loss record and draft record should be evaluated as two different measures. Especially when they account for two different roles occupied by Belichick, who is a future Hall of Fame coach but not necessarily a future Hall of Fame executive.
Saturday doesn’t see the separation.
“I don’t really care if we win the draft,” said Saturday, whose Colts frequently battled the Patriots for AFC supremacy in the 2000s.
“I care that we win football games and Super Bowls, and the Patriots have continued to do that whatever their draft record looks like as far as what people are talking about.
“So why Kraft took that shot at Bill, I’m not really sure. I’m not sure if it’s just what’s happening with Tampa Bay and Tampa Tom making a Super Bowl — all those things. But man, if I’m Bill, I’m going to go ahead and show him like everybody else, ‘Look at the record, man. Not a lot to complain about around here.’”
The Patriots hold the No. 15 selection in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. It’s their highest first-round pick since 2008. Consistent winning has bumped the Patriots down the draft order – and Belichick has a penchant for trading back further and collecting second- and third-round picks.
Only five teams drafted worse than the Patriots over a stretch from 2016-19, according to the weighted career Approximate Value (AV) metric that measures a player’s value to his team, as reported by the Boston Herald.