April 1 (UPI) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was critical of his team’s latest NFL Draft history and said he wants to “solidify” the quarterback position, despite the off-season re-signing of Cam Newton.
Kraft, who has owned the team since 1994, spoke to reporters Wednesday during a conference call. The Patriots won six Super Bowls from 2001 through 2018.
They also posted a winning record for 19 consecutive seasons before the 2020 season. The team then moved on from longtime quarterback Tom Brady last off-season and finished 7-9 in 2020. The Patriots have the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft as a result of their subpar campaign.
“Really, the teams who draft well are the ones who will be consistently good,” Kraft told reporters. “I don’t feel like we’ve done the greatest job the last few years and I really hope and believe I’ve seen a different approach this year.
“In the end, it all comes down to what happens on the field and how people execute and you really don’t know how good a draft is for at least two years. Especially in the environment we’re in now, I’m not quite sure still what our off-season training and learning abilities will be.”
The Patriots have failed to get major contributions from players they have selected in the first round of the last several drafts. That group includes: wide receiver N’Keal Harry, running back Sony Michel, offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, linebacker Derek Rivers and offensive lineman Antonio Garcia.
The team also hasn’t been able to find as many late-round contributors. The Patriots have attempted to add talent through free agent signings this off-season.
They signed tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in March. They also signed linebackers Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy, wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and safety Jalen Mills, in addition to re-signing several players who were on the team last year.
The Patriots also re-signed quarterback Cam Newton, who struggled last season. Backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala also are on the roster, but the Patriots could opt to select a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“I don’t know that Jarrett has ever really gotten a fair shot,” Kraft said. “We have to wait and see what happens, and we still have the draft.
“Quarterback is the most important position on the team. One way or the other, we have to get that position solidified.”
Newton, 31, completed 65.8% of his throws for 2,657 yards, eight scores and 10 interceptions in 15 starts last season. He also had 592 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in 2020, but posted a 7-8 record as a starter.