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Eliot Wolf Meets the Media at the NFL Scouting Combine



New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Eliot Wolf did not inherit a new title in the offseason, but he certainly seems to have more power in the New England Patriots front office. Wolf remains the Patriots director of scouting, though he could just as easily be called the general manager, the head of football operations, or whichever other title indicates he is the man in charge. He did make it clear the decision-making process in Foxboro would be a collaborative one, though he would ultimately have the final say.

Wolf met with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and touched on several subjects.

Bad News for Incumbant Quarterbacks?

A question was asked about the quarterback situation in New England and the team’s returning players, Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. Wolf would only state there were “a lot of options on the table” for the Patriots quarterback situation. But in terms of Jones and Zappe, Wolf stated, “We’re not going to be talking about these guys through the media.”

However, while talking about the quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft, Wolf spoke in a way that many may interpret as being ready to move on from New England’s current crop of QBs.

“I think it’s a really good year for quarterbacks,” Wolf said. He went on to add, “One thing about the quarterbacks in this draft specifically that I’m excited about is they all look like they’re really tough guys.”

Wolf was asked about evaluating the mental toughness of prospects and acknowledged that was important.

“We have to determine who can handle being the quarterback of the New England Patriots.”

He added that they are looking for, “Someone that can elevate their teammates, someone their teammates want to play for.”

In many ways, it sounded like Eliot Wolf was hoping to draft Tom Brady, which is not a bad strategy.

Wolf was also asked about the quarterback’s body language, something Jones in particular has been criticized over in New England.

“Body language on the field is very important at that position,” he said of the quarterback. “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.”

Good News for Patriots Free Agents?

Eliot Wolf made it clear that he was hoping to bring back a couple of the New England Patriots prized free agents.

“We want to keep Mike (Onwenu) and Kyle (Dugger).”

Wolf had particular praise for Onwenu, who was awarded the John Hannah Award here last season as the Patriots Offensive Player of the Year.

“Mike’s a core player for us. No secret we want to try to keep Mike (Onwenu),” Wolf stated. “He’s certainly someone we view as a cornerstone for us.”

As for their other offseason goals, including free agency, Wolf said New England will aggressively try to help the team. This means trying to weaponize the offense and getting faster and more explosive on defense.

Plan for the No. 3 Pick

Eliot Wolf did not tip his hand on who the New England Patriots would select with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Aside from the aforementioned comments about this year’s quarterback class, he did add that “When you look throughout the league, most of the quarterbacks are first-rounders.”

Wolf added that neither he nor Jerod Mayo had met with any of the QB prospects yet.

The only prospect Wolf was specifically asked about was Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. He is considered the most likely prospect to be first off the board of the non-quarterbacks. Wolf would only state the obvious.

“He’s a good player. He can translate into any offense in the NFL.”

The Packer Way

In these parts “The Patriots Way” has been talked about for years. Wolf was asked about “The Packer Way” about his roots with Green Bay.

“Draft and develop. Extend your core performers from within,” he explained. “And again, it’s about honesty, respect, and treating people the right way.”

Wolf seems to have faith in head coach Jerod Mayo being able to lead in such a fashion. He praised Mayo’s leadership, believing Mayo would be a selling point to any potential Patriots addition.

Other Tidbits

Eliot Wolf also mentioned both Matt Groh and Richard Miller as being very helpful in running things for New England. He said that ownership “prefers to stay out of football,” but would likely make their opinions known.

He did touch on the philosophy of having more reliance on young players and providing them with more opportunities. Wolf also indicated the scouting/grading system would shift from how the Patriots had been doing things to how the Packers did. This means less reliance on fitting a specific system or role Targeting the best players is the goal.

The New England Patriots are trying to portray this new era as more personable. Eliot Wolf certainly comes across as an excellent face of the franchise in that regard. He came across as open, honest, and knowledgeable. He also cracked a soft joke or two.

Wolf did say the Patriots want to establish a less “hard-ass vibe” moving forward. This is a point that has been echoed throughout multiple press conferences at this point. While New England wants this to be clear, there is no need to explicitly state it. There is no doubt it is coming across as anti-Belichick to a large segment of the fanbase, and the Belichick years happened to be the most successful in professional football history.

There is now no doubt that Eliot Wolf, regardless of title, is the chief decision-maker for the New England Patriots.