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New Patriots De-Facto GM Eliot Wolf Lays Out his Vision for 2024 at the NFL Combine

Earlier this morning, we got our first chance to hear from Eliot Wolf publicly since the organizational reshuffling done at 1 Patriot Place. Although his technical title is "Director of Scouting", we now know from the man himself that he is effectively the general manager of the New England Patriots, just without the official nametag.

Now leading the ship, this was a great opportunity for Patriots fans to get to know Wolf much better than from second and third-hand sources, understating how he views this team as of now and moving forward, roster-building philosophy, what it's been like working with Jerod Mayo so far, etc. To me though, here were the key things to take away from what Wolf had to say in Indy.

A New Day

It's not exactly a secret at this point that things will seemingly be done differently than when Bill Belichick had full control over this team, extending beyond coaching. Intended or not, Wolf was the latest to take an indirect shot at Belichick, stating that they are trying to have less of a "hard-ass vibe" relating to the team culture. Now, the core pieces of the Patriots culture from the last 20 can still work in today's NFL, but just by seeing quotes and soundbites from the Dynasty doc, things took their toll on even the most loyal of Patriots lifers. Striking a good balance should do everybody some good moving forward.

Perhaps the most interesting thing Wolf brought up, to me at least, is how the Patriots are evaluating draft prospects moving forward. He stated that in years past, the team would grade players based on the role they would play, and moving forward, things would be based on simple value, which would be easier for the scouting department and make things less nuanced. Also, this was another direct quote that jumped out from Wolf talking about the pros to this line of thinking, "We hear from the scouts more". Yeah, I don't think that was said without purpose with that many cameras around.


Although Wolf brought up that he feels the Patriots need to add some offensive weapons and get faster on defense in the coming months, what should be their current top priority is keeping both Michael Onwenu and Kyle Dugger around for the long haul. These are two homegrown guys who've done everything right from the moment they arrived in New England and are both more than worthy of second contracts with this team.

Fortunately, Wolf appears to be of that mindset, specifically calling Onwenu "a core player". He also addressed the rumors that the Franchise Tag is in play for Dugger (expected to be 16 million dollars for safeties this year) and effectively said it's on the table, but they've been in extension talks for both guys. Only Washington has more cap space than the Patriots, and they can get an extra 14 million in space by cutting J.C. Jackson. In reality, they have little to no excuse to not have both guys back this year.

The Future of the Quarterback Position

Although none of the top three quarterbacks in this year's draft (Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels) are expected to throw this week in Indy, the position is a hot topic in New England for obvious reasons, and reading between the lines, I'm almost positive he came as close to saying they're taking a quarterback at three without actually saying it.

"First of all, being someone that can elevate his teammates. Someone that his teammates want to play for, I think that's an extremely underrated thing people don't talk about that much...and obviously, physical talent." - Wolf on what he looks for in a QB
"Body language on the field is very important at that position. You don't want a guy that's throwing his hands up after a bad play, or you can see him physically pointing at somebody...Everybody's looking at the quarterback." - Wolf on QB Body Language

Might just be me, but I don't know how you read that and think they're sticking with either Bailey Zappe or Mac Jones, even if they were to trade down. He also directly stated that it's a great year for quarterbacks, so I will be fascinated to see how this week goes with prospect meetings and the perception of who they like more between Maye and Daniels specifically. According to Wolf, the plan is their meeting with all three top guys. I don't think Williams is in play unless they jump from three to one, and to be honest, I would give that serious consideration if Chicago is willing to play ball.

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