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Patriots exec Eliot Wolf to have final say during 2024 NFL Draft, wants to model approach after Packers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf is revamping New England's evaluation process as the club moves on from the Bill Belichick era.

The son of longtime NFL exec Ron Wolf, Eliot grew up in the Green Bay Packers organization, spending 14 seasons in Wisconsin, rising up the organization. After two seasons in Cleveland, the 41-year-old spent the past four years in New England under Belichick.

Wolf noted on Tuesday at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine that he's adjusted the Patriots draft grading system, which will now look more like what he ran in Green Bay.

"We changed the grading system," he said. "It's a little bit more similar to what we did in Green Bay. The previous Patriots system was more 'this is what the role is' and this is kind of value-based. So, it makes it a lot easier for scouts to rate guys and put them in a stack of 'this guys is the best,' 'this guy is the worst' and everything in between falls into place. Rather than more nuanced approaches. I just think it accounts value better and it makes it easier for the scouts."

Wolf noted that the new system will be more "collaborative" and the front office will hear more from the scouts as they work through the pre-draft process. 

The change isn't the only way Wolf wants the Patriots to follow the Packers' method, noting that the keystone of his program will be drafting, developing and extending core players from within. 

"I think there is going to be a little bit more reliance on playing young players," he said when asked what the difference in his program will be. "I think it's really important to play young players and develop from within.

Two of home-grown talents Wolf wants to keep heading toward free agency are offensive tackle Mike Onwenu and safety Kyle Dugger. Wolf said "all options are on the table" in attempting to keep them both in Foxborough and didn't rule out the franchise tag.

When asked about new head coach Jerod Mayo's comments that the club was ready to “burn cash” in free agency, Wolf noted that some of that money could be earmarked to keeping those players in New England.

"We're going to aggressively try to help the team," Wolf said. "Take that however you want it but we will try to do what's right. Whether that means spending or saving, TBD." 

All options being on the table was a theme of Wolf's media session. 

The scouting director used the phrase when asked if he planned to shop the No. 3 overall pick, and when asked about the QB position, with Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe the holdovers currently on the roster. 

"Like any position, we're going to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to determine who fits for us," Wolf said on Tuesday of the QBs in play. "We're pretty early in the process here. I haven't met any of these guys, Jerod hasn't met any of these guys. So going through the process here will determine what's best for the team. One thing about the quarterbacks in this draft specifically that I'm excited about is that they all look like they're really tough guys, which is obviously great at any position, but the quarterback position especially."

Added Wolf: "We have to determine who can handle being the quarterback of the New England Patriots."

The scouting director noted that while it's a cooperative process when deciding what to do with the No. 3 pick, he will have the final say. 

"It's going to be a collaborative effort, coach Mayo, (director of player personnel) Matt Groh, myself, the whole staff," he said. "At the end of the day somebody has to make that pick and that will be myself."

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