Undrafted Patriots are thankful Belichick noticed them

AP

Bill Belichick hasn’t always had a great track record for effectively using his high draft picks. But one area where Belichick excels as a General Manager is in finding undrafted free agents, many of whom will play important roles on Super Bowl Sunday.

Several of the Patriots’ undrafted players told PFT today that they think of New England as a good place for undrafted players, because Belichick’s mindset is that the players who earn playing time will play, regardless of their draft status, their contracts or anything else.

Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Wendell arrived as an undrafted free agent from Fresno State in 2008. He said he had several offers from other teams to sign on their offseason rosters, but when Belichick called it became an easy decision.

“When Bill Belichick calls, it’s hard to say no,” Wendell said.

Wendell said he wasn’t expecting to get drafted and only hoped for a shot in the NFL.

“I knew there was a slim chance,” Wendell said. “Playing in the NFL has been a dream. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Offensive lineman Josh Kline wasn’t expecting to be drafted, either, but during the seventh round of the 2013 draft he started getting phone calls from teams offering him invitations to rookie minicamps. He said he felt like the Patriots were going to be a better fit for him than any other teams that showed interest because he believed they’d give him an honest shot of making the roster.

“The Patriots see more potential than other teams,” Kline said. “They find talent that other teams don’t see.”

Guard Dan Connolly signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2005, spent two years as a backup in Jacksonville, and then signed in New England after the Jaguars cut him. Connolly has become a consistent starter with the Patriots, and he said in New England, it’s understood that every player is always trying to prove himself — just as an undrafted rookie has to do in training camp.

“I was coming out of a small school [Southeast Missouri State] and just hoping to find a place in the NFL,” Connolly said. “Even after years in the NFL, I can always improve.”

Players with that mindset are Belichick’s kind of players.

60 responses to “Undrafted Patriots are thankful Belichick noticed them

  1. After they loose in the Super Bowl they will be looking for the best deal to get out of town !

  2. Belichick famously started a 6th round QB over a No. 1 pick that had just signed a big new contract. His approach motivates undrafted players to get onto the field, and simultaneously motivates higher picks to fulfill their potential or immediately get benched for someone better. That some folks like to laugh at him for early round “busts” that he replaces with undrafted people that get him to Super Bowls shows they don’t understand what he’s up to at all.

  3. But Belichick cheated the process to obtain those great in drafted free agents! Just like Belichick cheats in the draft. He makes 31 other teams pass on players like Gronkowski, Matt Light, McCourty, Chamdler Jones, etc.

    He has to be cheating.

    Signed,
    Jealous NFL fans that wish Belichick was their head coach

  4. Apparently people aren’t up on the latest news. The Patriots were clearly set-up, framed, sabotaged, whatever you want to call it. An ex-Jet coach in the NFL front office with an ax to grind against Belichick clearly set up the Patriots to take the fall. He may have even been involved himself with deflating footballs. Regardless, the Patriots are going to end up suing many people for slander when they are cleared and I wonder how many people are going to have the guts to apologize to them.

  5. Undrafted Rookie-Gate!!!!

    Belichick has developed a clear advantage over other teams because undrafted players prefer New England without even hearing the other offers. It is a clear competitive advantage! The integrity of the game is paramount!

  6. Deflated footballs or not, they are in the Super Bowl while 30 other teams will be watching.

  7. So, I guess losing two first round picks for deflategate won’t be that bad if he picks busts anyway…….

  8. The Patriots get more out of guys too though, because they are the Patriots. Guys WANT to do well for Bill and Tom and this type of winning organization. They try harder NOT to let that type of team down. So, it might not be that they do better finding undrafted guys, but that the guys they find do play harder and smarter and try more.

  9. “Offensive lineman Josh Kline wasn’t expecting to be drafted, either, but during the seventh round of the 2013 draft he started getting phone calls from teams offering him invitations to rookie minicamps. ”

    I was under the impression teams weren’t allowed to negotiate with undrafted free agents until the 7th round was concluded. Early call-gate! Sanctions! Sanctions! But just the Patriots, though. Ignore everyone else doing it

  10. I have to give props to Belichik’s staff for being able to scout and evaluate undrafted talent. It’s one of those things that separates the good teams from the bad ones.

  11. If you hate the Pats you hate what made America great: hard work, intelligence, risk-taking, and seeing opportunities that others would not even consider.

    You loser haters can have the Browns and Democrats and I will take the Pats and a belief in excellence and achievement and making yourself who you want to be.

  12. Trolls are so sad. They sit around the keyboard every day waiting for a Patriots article to appear, then rush to make the first comment. Pathetic.

  13. Circular reasoning. The undrafted guys play because the guys ahead of them stink. Then when the undrafted guys play everybody says “Wow, another hidden gem! Bill has such a great eye for talent!”

    If he had a great eye for talent, they wouldn’t be playing in the first place.

  14. Okay, so as much of a “genius” as BB might be, he is INCAPABLE of building a viable offensive line. This article kinda proves that… Are we supposed to be proud of Wendell/Kline/Connolly? They are all horrible at their respective positions!!! This article is ridiculous.

  15. Rindell says:
    Jan 28, 2015 1:18 PM
    Circular reasoning. The undrafted guys play because the guys ahead of them stink. Then when the undrafted guys play everybody says “Wow, another hidden gem! Bill has such a great eye for talent!”

    If he had a great eye for talent, they wouldn’t be playing in the first place.
    __________

    You’re ignoring the fact that they’re in the Superbowl, so if their undrafted guys are playing, they’re still better than the draft picks that make up the other 15 teams in the AFC.

  16. Just because they are in the Superbowl doesn’t mean they have an overall better roster of players.

    It is not logical whatsoever to say that because a player is playing in the Super Bowl he is a better player than other players in the league at his position. That is in fact ludicrous.

    They are in the Super Bowl because they have a great QB and have cheated.

  17. The teams that do the best at identifying the talent are the teams most likely to make it to this final game. Great job by the Patriots and the Seahawks for many years and now the fans get to see a fitting championship match!

  18. This was a great article about being open to giving undrafted players an opportunity. It happens to be why Bill is such a great coach – perhaps the greatest of all time and the bitter and twisted haters come online to mock and villify him.
    Please show Bill Belichick respect and kiss the rings. He has 5 if you count the 2 from his days as DC in the New York Giants and it will soon be 6.

  19. If Belichick isn’t good at drafting in the high rounds then how come over half the starting Superbowl defense for the patriots was drafted by him in the first or second round?

  20. Rindell says:
    Jan 28, 2015 1:18 PM
    Circular reasoning. The undrafted guys play because the guys ahead of them stink. Then when the undrafted guys play everybody says “Wow, another hidden gem! Bill has such a great eye for talent!”

    If he had a great eye for talent, they wouldn’t be playing in the first place.
    ________________

    When you get a chance, ask someone knowledgeable about how the salary cap and the practice squad works….thanks

  21. Actually, the fact that they’re in the Superbowl does mean (or is strongly indicative of the fact) that they have a better overall roster of players. If you think one guy, at any position, is why any team makes it to the Superbowl, I’d suggest you follow things a little more closely. The QB can’t snap the ball, block for himself, throw the ball to himself and then catch it.

  22. There are an estimated 12,500 D1 Football athletes at any given time, and only 256 are drafted every year.

    Of course there are going to be studs who are not drafted, the key is knowing what type of player will fit your system the best.

  23. Umm no Belichick didn’t just decide to start a 6th round draft pick over round 1. Bledsoe got hurt and Brady took over. Don’t make it sound like Belichick was/is some sort of prophet because he isn’t. He actually sucks. He kept the Patriots out of super bowl last year because of his dumb coaching moves he makes off of sheer pride/arrogance and again for same reasons they are probably going to lose the super bowl this year. Good luck Blount. Enjoy the 10 yards you’ll get. No idea what Belichick’s obsession with Blount is he only has good games against weak run D.

  24. his approach is no different than the one taken by most successful businesses ..perform or get replaced by someone who will.. the difference is that he’s under no pressure to play overpaid underperformers because he’s calling all the shots ..Carroll is in the same situation ..there’s a lesson here Jets, Browns, etc.

  25. When you get a chance, ask someone knowledgeable about how the salary cap and the practice squad works….thanks
    __________________________________

    Goofy nonsense. The salary cap and the practice squad have nothing to do with this.

    Bill has show he is actually BELOW AVG/POOR at evaluating players in the draft. He is also bad at draft trades.

    Having a handful of undrafted players fill specific roles or start does not a genius make.

  26. azarkhan says:
    Jan 28, 2015 1:11 PM
    Trolls are so sad. They sit around the keyboard every day waiting for a Patriots article to appear, then rush to make the first comment. Pathetic.
    ————————————-
    Based on your thumbs and the fact that you comment on every Cheatriot story, it would appear its NE fans sitting in wait to defend that which can’t be defended.

  27. rt comment
    eazye1187 says:
    Jan 28, 2015 1:42 PM
    Umm no Belichick didn’t just decide to start a 6th round draft pick over round 1. Bledsoe got hurt and Brady took over. Don’t make it sound like Belichick was/is some sort of prophet because he isn’t. He actually sucks. He kept the Patriots out of super bowl last year because of his dumb coaching moves he makes off of sheer pride/arrogance and again for same reasons they are probably going to lose the super bowl this year. Good luck Blount. Enjoy the 10 yards you’ll get. No idea what Belichick’s obsession with Blount is he only has good games against weak run D.

    Wrong!

  28. I would say he stinks in rd 2 for whatever reason, but for every bust you point out he has LOTS of all pros, not just decent guys.

    Seymour, wilfork, mankins, mayo, mccourty, chandler jones, Hightower, gronk to name a few. These were all early picks and he nailed them so far.

    Where great coaches separate themselves from others (not just the patriots) is how they round out your draft. Not much different then you play FF with your buddies. You need to hit later in the draft.

    Look at SEA’s roster as well, lots of lower round impact players.

  29. eazye1187 says:
    Jan 28, 2015 1:42 PM
    Umm no Belichick didn’t just decide to start a 6th round draft pick over round 1. Bledsoe got hurt and Brady took over.
    ________

    Does Belichick get any credit for keeping Brady on the roster in 2000 when they had 4 quarterbacks? Does he get any credit for making Brady the backup in 2001? Does he get any credit for not going back to Bledsoe when he was able to get back on the field? Does he get any credit for sticking with Brady in the Superbowl after an injury knocked him out of the AFCCG and Bledsoe came off the bench to lead them to victory? Maybe a little? Just a little itty bit? Yeah, he does…and for some reason it burns you up inside.

  30. Patriots are in the Super Bowl… Choke on that haters!!!
    Bwaaaaaaa Haaaaaa Haaaaaaaa!!!!
    But, But,But you’re cheaters!!!
    Boooooo Hooooooo Hoooooo
    Sorry, but the only true deflation the Patriots have caused out there is the hopes & dreams in the hearts of the fans of the other disfunctional loser teams out there!!!!

  31. Getting Brady was basically a stroke of luck…but if that’s your system, you will get a gem every now and again, but don’t think of it as some genius move…

    Like one top official for Pats said years ago, if we thought Brady was going to be anywhere near this good, we certainly wouldn’t have waited until the sixth round to draft him!

  32. “Bill Belichick hasn’t always had a great track record for effectively using his high draft picks…”

    ummm….that’s because he never has high draft picks!

    has picked 31 or 32 more often than any other team over a 15 year period than ANY OTHER TEAM IN HISTORY

    GO PATS

  33. I’ve watched him coach the Patriots for 15 years and continue to be amazed at how well he prepares the team. One terrific football coach! Almost all of the others are still playing checkers: BB is playing chess. And with 40 years in the NFL is VERY GOOD at it.

  34. He likes players who can keep their mouths shut over the shenanigans that go on over there.

  35. I get it. The patriots are easy to root against. I have had several conversations with other teams’ fans about how easy it is to root against my beloved Hawks as well. But as a football fan, BB is one of the greats of all time. With a lot of success comes a lot of scrutiny. A deflated football does not get you into the playoffs 10 out of 13 seasons. Or a playoff record 2nd to only Vince Lombardi. Good luck to you Pats fans. In the words of BB, ignore the noise. It’s going to be a great game! Go Hawks!

  36. Gotta give props to both these teams, it’s hard to keep the cupboard stocked in the salary cap era.

  37. Actually 11 of 13 Truehawkfan, but who’s counting at this stage. Thank’s for the nod. This should be a great match up. Lots of contrasts of styles. The most notable being, the Seahawks basically come out the same way and dare you to beat them, while the Pats have a different game plan for every opponent.

    Coaches all over the country worry whether they are falling in love with their own x’s and O’s, at the expense of execution. This game will give the country a true test of this oppising styles. Very cool for the game.

  38. This just goes to show you can’t rely only on Combine and pro day numbers when evaluating players like so many draft analyst “experts” do. You actually have to watch hours and hours of tape.

  39. Speaking of sock/hand puppets, does anyone else get any impression at all that Ernie Adams is perhaps the ‘real’ football genius here & Belichick is merely his puppet?

  40. Quick note to the trolls – it is so clear that your “cheater” retorts are coming from a place of jealousy that it is comical. The Patriots are just that good, and you know it. So put on some big boy pants, quit the whining and embrace the greatness.

  41. beelicker says: Jan 28, 2015 3:52 PM

    Speaking of sock/hand puppets, does anyone else get any impression at all that Ernie Adams is perhaps the ‘real’ football genius here & Belichick is merely his puppet?

    He most certainly is. He’s had no success without him on his side especially when he ran off to Wall Street for awhile.

  42. Not to nitpick but I think the knock on BB is more his mid-round picks than his “early” ones (2-4). His track record in the 1st round is really as good as anyone.

    2001: Richard Seymour
    2002: Dan Graham
    2003: Ty Warren
    2004: Vince Wilfork, Benjamin Watson
    2005: Logan Mankins
    2006: Laurence Maroney
    2007: Brandon Meriweather
    2008: Jerod Mayo
    2010: Devin McCourty
    2011: Nate Solder
    2012: Chandler Jones, Donta’ Hightower
    2014: Dominique Eastley

    Jury’s still out on Eastley of course, and Laurence Maroney can officially be called a bust– but everyone else here played solid football for this club at some point. Pretty impressive for a team who was picking more consistently at the back of the round than any other team in football. no?

  43. Along with the 3 mentioned the Patrits have 16 undrafted players on their 53-
    D. Aiken LS
    R. Allen P
    D. Amendola WR
    K. Arrignton CB
    B. Bolden RB
    B. Browner CB
    M. Butler CB
    D. Connolly OL
    J. Develin FB
    J. Devey OL
    J. Gray RB
    j. Kline OL
    S. Siliga DL
    B. Tyms WR
    J. Vellano DL
    R. Wendell OL

  44. The premise of this article is pretty exaggerated. Because any undrafted player who gets picked up by any team is thankful that they were noticed and picked up. Nothing special about the Patriots doing it. This article is classic media spin. It could be written for any team.

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