Lane Kiffin: Bill Belichick is unique among NFL coaches in researching draft prospects

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Lane Kiffin, the longtime coach who has is currently at Ole Miss and has coached at several big-time college programs in addition to a stint as head coach of the Raiders, says there’s one NFL coach who stands apart in his effort to learn about draft prospects: Bill Belichick.

Kiffin told Pat McAfee that during his many years as a college coach, he hasn’t had many NFL coaches call him for his opinions about players — with the exception of Belichick.

“We get some calls. Probably not as much as you’d think,” Kiffin said. “No disrespect, I think a lot of people in the NFL think ‘We’ve got it figured out. We don’t need opinions from college guys.’ That may sound crazy to you, but that does happen. And I remember going to the Raiders and saying on every draft prospect, Call their college position coach, ask what they think of that, and [the Raiders’ scouts] all looked at me like, ‘What? We don’t need their opinions.’ I know there’s guys like Belichick that have personally — I remember a guy in like the third round the night before the draft, him calling me to ask my opinion on him. Not even a first-round pick. So some people do it and I think a lot of people don’t.”

Kiffin said Belichick stands alone in his knowledge of players.

“The really good ones like him, he’s so smart,” Kiffin said. “I remember it was a tight end — he was like, ‘OK, I remember you had Zach Miller 10 years ago with the Raiders or whatever it was. How do you compare him to him?’ That’s how smart he is, to be able to remember who you had and players you were around and compare them to. That’s why he’s so great at that.”

Kiffin’s comments echo those of his former boss Nick Saban, who has also said Belichick is the only NFL coach who calls him to ask about draft prospects. Of course, given the Patriots’ recent draft failures, it’s possible that Belichick is listening too much to his buddies in the coaching profession, and not enough to scouts.

33 responses to “Lane Kiffin: Bill Belichick is unique among NFL coaches in researching draft prospects

  1. The Pats drafts have sucked. College coaches will always boost one of their players.. the more players that get drafted from their program the better the recruitment pitch.

  2. The last paragraph said it all. All you have to do is look at how lousy the Patriots have drafted the past few years to see that maybe it’s not a great idea to talk to people who are close to the players and may not be able to give an accurate non biased opinion.

  3. Belichick only drafted those who he believed wouldn’t demand top contracts, like Gronk (because of his injury).

    Anyway, Brady would deal with those receivers and he just laid back and collected credits.

  4. A coach is always gonna talk up his player. That’s the problem. A scout gives an honest, unbiased trained eye assessment.

    Even his own coaches have a difficult time of him accepting their input. One coach begged him for 6 rounds to take this skinny kid out of Michigan before he gave in and took him as an afterthought.

  5. In 2012 Belichick made Gronk the highest paid TE in NFL history, at the time. A guy BB drafted that was off many team’s boards. Amazing that Belichick has his 1rst losing year in 20 yrs with the Pats and the knives come out. Now everyone thinks they know more than him. Thanks for the belly laugh

  6. Gronk would be a first round pick if not because of his injury. Yes, he became top paid TE then, but still lot cheaper then a top tier WR.

    Aaron Hernandaz was 2nd round talent, but was not selected because of his serious off-field position.

    Belichick just did “give a try” on offense, while other coaches couldn’t afford such risk. Just imagine that Gronk was selected by Packers and injured and off, and Rodgers struggled, McCarthy would be killed by fans of Rodgers.

  7. Kyle Trask to New England. One of the most overlooked prospects in the draft.

  8. This isn’t a mystery. It hasn’t been a mystery for 15-20 years. Belichick builds 8-8 teams, coaches them up to a couple more wins and Brady added a couple more wins to get the average 12-4 season they saw. In the playoffs, smart coaching and the most clutch QB in history won close championships. It’s hiding in plain sight.

    In more recent history BB has shamelessly drafted his college pals players to the detriment of the team. He won his first 3 SBs on largely inherited D players and won the next 3 using 7 of 8 first round picks on D while leaving Brady to make do with whatever he could scrape together. That’s hiding in plain sight as well.

  9. In the playoffs, smart coaching

    ————————

    Here is a list of collapses in last 2 minutes by his defense in playoff:

    2002 SB against Rams (Brady saved him); 2004 SB against Panthers (Brady saved him); 2007 AFCCG against Colts; 2008 SB against Giants; 2012 SB against Giants; 2015 SB against Seahawks (Brady’s 28 points and Pete Carrol saved him); 2018 SB against Eagles; 2019 AFCCG against Chiefs (Brady saved him).

    That is from a so called genius.

  10. The college coach is always going to rave about their players. The higher they go in the draft, the better it is for him and his program. This draft strategy has only endured because he had the best deodorant for these stinky drafts, TB12. And we are now in the “we are out of deodorant” phase.

  11. It’s time for Belichick to rethink his approach to the draft. What he’s doing now clearly isn’t working.

  12. Belichik is a great coach, but, let’s face it, as time goes on, it’s becoming more and more clear that the bulk of his success is attributed to the one in a million fluke of stumbling into an All-Timer with a 6th round pick in Brady.

  13. I just went through Belichick’s drafts from 2000 through 2018. Hard to evaluate the last two yet.

    I counted 44 excellent or very good picks. He was particularly good with 1st round picks (Seymour, Wilfork, McCourty, Hightower, Chandler Jones, Mankins, Solder, Mayo, Warren, Watson, Graham) and late round picks. I counted just one 1st round big miss (Easley) and 1 weak pick (Brown).

    Great late round picks include Brady, Edelman, Givens, Cassel (traded for a 2nd), and Denard.

    He had several big hits (Gronk, Chung, Branch) and big misses (Brace) in the second round.

    Excellent at picking offensive linemen across rounds. Part of that may have been Scarnecchia’s development but Onwenu this year was the equivalent of a 1st round picked in the 6th.

    Excellent at picking TEs: Graham (1st), Watson (1st), Gronk (2nd), Hernandez (4th), Thomas (3rd) Saints, Smith (5th) Bills, Derby (6th) Broncos, and Izzo (7th) either excelled or had long careers as late round picks. Every tight-end pick made an NFL roster and contributed.

    Excellent at picking defensive backs but some of his best pickups there were trades and free agents.

    Running backs always seem to make the roster and contribute but no real stars.

    He has been excellent at picking specialists in rounds 4 thru 6: Gostkowski, Mesko, Bailey, Slater, Ebner, Cardona. Missed with a placekicker this year but fixed the error nicely.

    He picked only 3 talented players that proved to be character problems: Hernandez, Meriweather and Spikes that forced him to dump them despite talent.

  14. Most coaches are smart, and some are brilliant. Some of the most brilliant coaches never won super bowls, but lots of average coaches with HOF QB’s have. The last time New England missed the playoffs entirely was 2008 when Tom Brady missed the season with an injury. Tampa Bay hadn’t won a single playoff game in 18 years before Brady went down there and won it all his first season. Bill Belichick might be the greatest coach ever, but he won the super bowls because an assistant coach begged and pleaded with him to draft a kid named Brady, and Brady only got on the field because of an injury. There are plenty of coaches that would have blown it if they were dealt the same hand as Belichick, but there are also plenty that would have had the same amount of success, and we’d be calling them the GOAT. Did you ever watch The Wizard of Oz, and see the scene when the dog pulled the curtain back and exposed the almighty wizard? That’s kind of what’s happening with Belichick. He’s just a man, after all.

  15. The revisionist history in this thread should not go unanswered. In 2008 the Patriots started their backup QB, who not only never started and NFL game, he never started a college game. The Patriots went 11-5 and missed out on the playoffs in a tiebreaker.

    The year Peyton Manning sat out the Colts went 2-14, after going 11-6 the year before.

  16. Meanwhile, Brady leaves the Pats, the organization knew it was coming for a while and Bellicheck drafted so well they had no quarterback and no players to get a quarterback to the playoffs. His evaluation of players in the draft has been so genius lately that to get back in contention the Patriots had to go out and pinch drafted players from other teams with money.
    He’s a great coach for sure but his ability to draft talent isn’t genius level. he’s finding less hall of fame talent in the draft than coaches that can’t win Super Bowls. Brady never took what he was worth while in New England and that allowed Bill to keep players they otherwise would have let go.
    I love his ability to prepare and coach especially on defense but his drafts aren’t amazing even Kraft had to admit they have been failing in the draft .

  17. How many people has Belichick drafted that are still in football, especially in rounds 1-3? Say what you want about Belichick, but even Robert Kraft believes they’ve been terrible at drafting players.

  18. I love the online experts disparaging Belichick’s drafting. Most couldn’t name the first rounders from their own division from last year’s draft. They have no idea who the Patriots have drafted other than N’Keal Harry. In the last 5 years I could find a similar first round bust for all of the other 31 teams. And Harry was pick 32.
    Other than Patriots fans, if I asked who was the Patriots first round pick last year, most wouldn’t know the answer.
    (as thousands google the question)

  19. I mean, our last few drafts have been tough, but let’s look at 2010-2020

    10 D-Mac/Gronk/Spikes (decent run stopping LB)/Hernandez if he wasn’t a scum bag

    11-Solder/Vereen/Ridley/Cannon

    12-HT/Jones/Ebner

    13-trades the first to MN who drafted Patterson: Collins/Harmon/Ryan

    14-Jimmy/white/Stork (serviceable)

    15-trey flowers:Shaq Mason/Brown

    16-thuney/Brisett/Mitchell

    17-trades the first for cooks otherwise bad draft

    18-Wynn/MichelBentley

    19-winovich-otherwise ugly

    20- digger/Uche/Jennings

    So yeah, not perfect but many of these drafts led to 3 super bowl titles in 5 appearances

  20. “The revisionist history in this thread should not go unanswered. In 2008 the Patriots started their backup QB, who not only never started and NFL game, he never started a college game. The Patriots went 11-5 and missed out on the playoffs in a tiebreaker.

    The year Peyton Manning sat out the Colts went 2-14, after going 11-6 the year before.”

    _______________________________________________

    People cite that 11-5 record quite a bit. But that was a season after having one of the best teams of all time, who went undefeated in the regular season.

    Going from 16-0 to 11-5 is a very significant drop.

  21. tigerlilac,

    Troy Brown, David Patten, Deion Branch, David Givens, Reche Caldwell, Wes Welker, Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelmen, Dion Lewis, James White, etc.

    You think they would be as good without Brady? You think Belichick will still be able to build offense with bunches of cheap short slot receiver?

  22. I love his ability to prepare and coach especially on defense

    —————————————–

    Really? you mean ONLY ONE great playoff game in last 10 years against a depleted Rams offense that lost its top 2 play makers?

  23. Belichik is a great coach, but, let’s face it, as time goes on, it’s becoming more and more clear that the bulk of his success is attributed to the one in a million fluke of stumbling into an All-Timer with a 6th round pick in Brady.
    ———————-
    So whats the excuses of teams that had say Dan Marino? Winning a SB or 6 should have been a slam dunk with a QB like that.

    Patriots and the draft. Its been a juggernaut up here for so long, with veteran SB winners in most positions that the Pats looked at the draft differently. They didn’t have massive gaps to fill, so they took flyers on risky players with upside-most which were not slated to be a lock for the linuep.
    There are some huge misses–WR for example, but the Pats most years used the draft differently than other teams. It wasn’t being use to retool or restock at all. BB always would rather have the proven NFL player than a rookie, exceptions being DL and OL players or when there was a massive need– LB drafts, TE drafts.

  24. If he would just pick BPA off the scouts chart, pats would always have top tier talent.

    Binds some gems, but many guys he drafts would have been UDFA.

    Biggest issue are the 2nd round reaches, Tavon Wilson when no team would have thought about drafting him before round 5 is just dumb. He does this across his draft every year.

  25. “So whats the excuses of teams that had say Dan Marino? Winning a SB or 6 should have been a slam dunk with a QB like that.”
    _____________________________________

    I don’t think Marino is a good comparison. For starters, I don’t remember him taking pay cuts so that Miami could afford to surround him with better players. The way Brady structured his contracts made things much easier for NE to attract and keep talent.

    Beyond that, the AFC East was so different back then. Marino had to deal w/ real competition. Buffalo was a regular SB contender, and the Jets had some very good years throughout the ’90’s. The division was very competitive.

    The Patriots dominated at a pretty fortuitous time in terms of division competition. With a few exceptions, most years were characterized by the other teams being managed & coached poorly, and having mediocre teams at best.

    Even today, the division is much tougher. It’s not likely that the Pats would have had as much success w/ the level of the competition that exists in the AFCE today compared to, say, 10 years ago.

  26. billsrthefuture says:
    April 9, 2021 at 12:42 pm
    “So whats the excuses of teams that had say Dan Marino? Winning a SB or 6 should have been a slam dunk with a QB like that.”
    _____________________________________

    I don’t think Marino is a good comparison. For starters, I don’t remember him taking pay cuts so that Miami could afford to surround him with better players. The way Brady structured his contracts made things much easier for NE to attract and keep talent.

    —–

    Salary cap in the NFL didnt start until 1994, so 10-11 years into Marinos career. They could pay anyone top dollar at any position, didnt matter if he took more.

    Basically, Miami had the Marks bothers for almost 10 years with Marino.

    The Jets had 2 good seasons between 1983 -1997, which was basically marinos career. They were horrible from 87-96.

    The Colts werent good then either (they were in the AFCE)

    The Pats actually made 2 SB’s during marinos career and had 5 10+ win seasons.

  27. Lane, NFL teams do call college coaches about prospects. They just don’t call you. A self-serving jerk and an overrated coach if there ever was one.

  28. Or he’s not listening to the college coaches and picking who he wants. That’s what I believe. 2 way street

  29. tigerlilac says:
    April 8, 2021 at 9:22 pm
    The revisionist history in this thread should not go unanswered. In 2008 the Patriots started their backup QB, who not only never started and NFL game, he never started a college game. The Patriots went 11-5 and missed out on the playoffs in a tiebreaker.

    The year Peyton Manning sat out the Colts went 2-14, after going 11-6 the year before.
    ==================================================================================
    I don’t know about revisionist history. Before Belichick drafted Cassel in the 7th round in 2005, he spent a 4th rounder on Rohan Davey in 2002 and a 6th rounder on Kliff Kingsbury in 2003, who collectively threw 20 NFL passes. Cassel turned out to be adequate, as the 16-0 Patriots team from the year before fell to 11-5. He was fortunate to be throwing to Wes Welker, Randy Moss, and Ben Watson. Cassel also went 10-6 for the Chiefs a couple of years later.

    When Manning was out, Painter and Orlovsky were just awful QB’s who shouldn’t have been in the league.

  30. Lotta good it’s done. All those safeties he’s drafted 3 rounds too high have been super. The early Pats teams had some hits, and there have been a few here and there… but at this point it’d be ok w me if he listened to scouts more than his old coaching buddies.

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