Patriots scouting director Eliot Wolf will have final say on personnel decisions

INDIANAPOLIS — Eliot Wolf’s first trip to the NFL Scouting Combine was in 1993. The new leader of the New England Patriots front office was 10 at the time, the son of legendary Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf. Younger Eliot sat between Bill Parcells and Al Davis.

The combine was different back then, a bit more chaotic. A pre-teen Wolf watched fights break out between coaches and scouts who wanted to be the next to interview prospects. “It was kind of wild,” Wolf said.

Thirty-one years later (and having attended every combine since), Wolf, New England’s director of scouting, is in charge of a team for the first time. He doesn’t hold the “general manager” title, but after blending ideas in what he hopes will be a collaborative process with other team executives and coaches, he’s the one who will make the final decisions for the Patriots in free agency and the draft.

Wolf spoke to the media here Tuesday, his first public words since joining the franchise three years ago. Here are 10 things we learned from his news conference.

1. “I think it’s a really good year for quarterbacks.”

That’s what Wolf said when asked about the position and the prospects that’ll be available in the NFL Draft at the end of April.

Wolf didn’t shy away from the obvious — that the Pats are considering drafting a quarterback with the No. 3 pick.

“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,” Wolf said.

2. The Patriots are meeting with Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina) and Jayden Daniels (LSU).

That shouldn’t come as a surprise — they are the top three quarterbacks in the draft class. But it’s still noteworthy that Wolf admitted those three interviews will happen.

New coach Jerod Mayo wasn’t here as of Tuesday morning, but he is flying into town to take part in those interviews.

3. The Krafts are staying out of the decision-making process when it comes to how to use the No. 3 pick. The same goes for how the Patriots will use the nearly $100 million in cap space they have, according to Wolf.

“They prefer to stay out of football,” he said. “But they’ve been very supportive of Jerod and myself and (director of player personnel) Matt (Groh).”


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4. Wolf talked about what he looks for in a quarterback — he said you need someone who elevates his teammates. But it’s what he said about a quarterback’s body language that was especially interesting.

Mac Jones has been criticized during games for his body language and for openly complaining, which made Wolf’s comments feel more pointed.

“Body language on the field is very important at that position,” Wolf said. “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. Body language is important. Everybody’s looking at the quarterback.”

5. The idea of a new culture has been one of the biggest changes inside Gillette Stadium since the team parted ways with Bill Belichick.

“Certainly there’s more of an open, less hard-ass-type vibe in the building that we can move forward with,” Wolf said.

What kind of culture is he hoping to build?

“I think it’s about people developing people, it’s about doing the right thing, being honest and open, and feeling comfortable that if there’s an issue to say something,” Wolf said.

6. That leads us to “the Packer Way.” Wolf got his start in the league in Green Bay where his dad served as the general manager from 1991 to 2000. In the last month, he has brought several people with whom he had ties in Green Bay to New England.

So what was the Packer Way in his eyes?

“Draft and develop,” Wolf said. “Extend your core performers from within. It’s about honesty, respect and treating people the right way.”

7. One of Wolf’s first tasks with the Patriots was updating the team’s grading system for draft prospects. Under Belichick, the Patriots used a grading system that focused on the role a prospect could play. Under Wolf’s system, which he learned in Green Bay, players are graded more on the value they could bring since some positions — quarterback, for example — are more valuable than others.

“I think it makes it a lot easier for scouts to rate guys and put them in a stack of, ‘This guy’s the best, this guy’s the worst,’ and everything in between falls into place,” Wolf said. “I just think it accounts for value better and it also makes it easier for the scouts in the fall as well as in the spring, where guys are going to be drafted.”



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8. The Patriots want to re-sign guard/tackle Mike Onwenu, but there’s a wrinkle. Onwenu recently fired his agent and will be conducting his own negotiations for his looming free agency.

“That doesn’t impact us,” Wolf said. “Mike’s a core player for us and it’s no secret we want to try to keep Mike, and it’ll just be a little bit of a wrinkle dealing with him. Mike’s really smart and he’s introspective and he’s thoughtful. He knows what he wants, which is always good when you’re dealing with a player. And he’s certainly someone that we view as a cornerstone for us.”

9. Wolf added Alonzo Highsmith to the Patriots’ front office but said Tuesday that Groh — not Highsmith — will serve as the No. 2 executive.

“Groh grew up in the Patriots system and is believed in in a lot of ways. And I believe in a lot of things from the Patriots system,” Wolf said.

10. Wolf wasn’t afraid to set expectations for 2024 on Tuesday. Asked what a successful season would look like, he said, “Really just showing good progress and turning the culture around and competing for the playoffs is something we’re not going to shy away from.”

(Photo: Nick Cammett / Diamond Images via Getty Images)

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