In his celebrated tenure as New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick has made it clear that he dislikes analytics. The six-time Super Bowl winner has often shared the Pats’ franchise doesn’t use number-crunching data when it comes to making personnel decisions.  Are analytics and the 2021 NFL Draft compatible for this great organization?

Nick Caserio was a Patriots front office executive from 2006-2020 before joining the Houston Texas as GM this past January. Earlier this month, Caserio contradicted Belichick and shared that analytics has been used extensively by New England in recent years to help them with player evaluation models.  At an MIT sports analytics conference, Caserio had some surprising comments about the Pats’ talent evaluation process. One being that arm length and height did not have a strong correlation to success for offensive tackles.   Caserio emphasizes that there is not a battle going on between traditional scouting vs. analytics to choose players.  

Instead, adaptability and mental makeup are traits to be considered by an executive along with raw athletic skills to see the whole picture.  World-class speed and strength won’t help a player climb the depth chart if he’s not an adept student in the team’s film and classroom.  Pats Owner Bob Kraft has acknowledged that New England has underperformed as a franchise when it comes to draft selections panning out in recent years.  Kraft himself mentioned the importance of analytics in team building.  Cerataily

Sports data has become big business.  Now, teams try to choose players with a basis of predictive analytics on how they’ll perform on the field.  To learn more about companies who make these analytic tools, take a closer look here at the competitive landscape of NFL analytics solutions. “Scouting in the NFL May Never Be the Same,”


Insofar as the NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens have a need for speed.  Top speed, acceleration, and deceleration are all measured by the Ravens.  It’s not just about a stopwatch and the 40 times.  Today, they are looking carefully at GPS tracking data.  From making the data more inclusive of other variables, it’s possible to determine a running back’s velocity, chart a linebacker’s path to the ball, or measure a wide receiver’s separation on go routes. 

Corey Krawiec is the Ravens’ manager of player evaluation and analytics, This job is to support and inform the team’s college scouting, pro scouting, and salary cap departments with data analysis and research.   The Ravens don’t just have a computer science prodigy in some isolated room punching up numbers and quantitative formulas.  It’s inclusive with the GM and player personnel now.  Scots and quants communicate frequently. 

Eric DeCosta has been the Ravens Exec VP and GM since 2019.  De Costa also believes in the probability of finding players through amassing extra draft picks. The philosophy is simple, more draft picks mean you can hit successfully on more players, So, compensatory draft picks are very important to the Ravens draft strategy.   


Sarah Bailey is a statistician for the LA Rams robust analytics department. For the 2021 Draft, The Rams first selection will come in the second round at pick #57. Bailey has developed so many analytical models, she can optimize which trade for the #57 pick will be the most attractive.   This allows her to analyze the likelihood of getting an NFL starter from the deal via the trade route should the Rams accept a trade.  

This is not just crazy scrambling in the war room on draft today.  Bailey has found the nine most likely teams to offer a trade deal for pick #57 and assess what is the best deal for the Rams.  Of course, there is guesswork in the inexact science of choosing a college player that will succeed at the professional level.  However, there is a growing reliance on this data in sound football decision-making. 

For the Rams, they have been ahead of the curve with technology and virtual meetings.  In 2017, the Rams had already extensively scaled back their travel to visit campuses and meet with other team executives.  The Zoom meeting and sending digital video files was an “old hat” for the technologically savvy Rams team.  Some NFL franchises were still fighting tooth and nail against the wave of analytics technology and statistical inference.  But not the Rams.

However, the analytics staff is growing on all 32 NFL teams.  Of course, you can’t depend on data dumps to analyze every aspect of the caliber of a football prospect.  Take a look at Austin’s Smith 2021 NFL Draft Top 100 Big Board for a great blend of analysis and high football IQ.   

2021 NFL Draft: Austin Smith’s Top 100 Big Board


Leave a Reply